NELSON UK 4 May 2011 .I have had the opportunity reading an article written by Mr Shabir Choudhry. It’s been more than quarter centuries that I have been reading him write in English as well as in Urdu. As always in his article again his typically hysterical attack on Pakistan full of distortions and speculations led me to say some thing to keep the record clean. In the first paragraph, the writer has interpreted the UN resolution of 21 April 1948 as that the ‘people of Kashmir had only two options…either join Pakistan or India’ - this is largely because the ‘ Jammu and Kashmir Question’ or India and Pakistan Question’, as it was later called, was represented by the officials of India and Pakistan , so they presented the case as it suited their national interests. Then later in the article he speculates that: ‘Had welfare of the Kashmiri people and principle of self determination being Pakistan’s first priority, then perhaps the government would have acted differently’ and: 1. Would not have changed the title of the case from ‘The Jammu and Kashmir Question’ to ‘India and Pakistan Question’; 2. Would not have limited the choice of the Kashmiri people to accession to India or Pakistan’. But he fails to state when and why it was changed? When I say he speculates, his hate and distrust for Pakistan becomes evident and he forgets to resort and exhibit any evidence to support his assertions and claims. As far as representatives of both countries presenting the case to suit their national interests is concerned that’s obviously what they were there for but I am sure Mr Choudhry is aware that Sheikh Abdullah and Sardar Ibrahim (both Kashmiri leaders) were there well before 21st April, presenting Kashmiri views too.
Lets read Michael Brecher ‘The struggle for Kashmir’ (1953) what he says on pages 66-67 ‘Pakistani representative stating before the SC ‘What is happening in Kashmir is a continuance of the process which has reached its culmination in the State of East Punjab ( the communal riots) and cannot be divorced from it (S/P.V.229,p.117)’’ and later the Indian delegate remarked : ‘There is no doubt that the security Council now has before it both the Jammu and Kashmir question and situations other than this question which have been brought to the attention of the Security Council by Pakistan. (S.P.V.231, 22.1,48, p. 161)...Brecher writes ‘The Council, too, acquiesced in this approach as evidenced by its decision of January 22nd to alter the title of the issue under consideration from ‘’ the Jammu-Kashmir Question’’ to ‘’ The India-Pakistan Question’’, thereby giving U.N sanction to the Pakistani view of the actual scope of their dispute.’’ And he states on page 77 that ‘this became evident on January 22nd 1948, when, over the serious objections of India, the Security Council decided to alter the item on its agenda from the ‘’ Jammu and Kashmir Question’’ to the India-Pakistan Question’’. So the title was changed well before 21st April 1948. During this debate the British and Soviet delegates were favourable to India’s view, while the representative of Syria, Argentine and Colombia were markedly pro-Pakistan, calling for a ‘consideration of all the points in the India-Pakistan problem’ (S/P.V. 231, 22.1.48, pp 144-164). This clears the mist Mr Choudhry creates in all his writings. Now, if the readers are not fully aware of Mr Shabir Choudhry being contentious then they must continue reading on the next page that ‘This seemingly innocuous semantic change, which was carried in the World press, was a logical by-product of the provisions of the January 20th Resolution (1948), and served Pakistan’s primary purpose of enlarging the scope of the issue under U.N. consideration. This decision of Council represented a Pakistani victory in still another sense for the very little ‘ India-Pakistan Question’’ implied that both States were equal parties to the dispute…..’ here readers must note that the issue was taken to the UN by India on 1st January 1948, so the title was changed from the outset on 22nd January 1948. In between there were two Resolutions, 38 and 39, presented by the Belgium delegate. The 7 points Resolution (39) adopted by the UNSC on 20th January 1948 suggested the Commission of the SC be established and its composition with all detail of Commission work. On the same day ‘The President therefore announced that India and Pakistan had agreed to the appointment of a Commission to mediate between them’. (Lord Birdwood, Two Nations and Kashmir p88)
The writer also creates ambiguity in second Para by referring to the Resolution of 21st April in third Para. Lets clear this up that whether that time on the International forum how popular was the writer’s slogan of ‘Independence’. On 16th January 1948, Sheikh Abdullah was with Indian delegate speaking before the SC. Lord Birdwood in his book ‘Two Nations and Kashmir’ on page 87 and 89 writes I quote ‘ Concerning the future status of Kashmir from her accession to India, and either accede to India or remain independent with a right to claim admission as a member of the United Nations-all this we have recognised to be a matter for unfetted decision by the people of Kashmir after normal life is restored to them.’ Lord Birdwood comments ‘’ so far as I am aware, this is the only occasion on which it was ever stated on the Indian side that freedom of choice would involve a definite withdrawal from accession. Furthermore, the recognition by the Indian delegate of a possible status of complete independence must have taken the Indian government by surprise. Years later independence was the last development which they were prepared to countenance; and we only suppose that in 1948 the suggestion was so improbable as to involve no risk in its proposal.’ The readers must note that Sheikh has not even mentioned Pakistan. But later on 4th February 1948 bursting out I quote (p89) again some lines from the same book ‘Abdullah himself was now available to present the Kashmir case. But it was not a very conciliatory argument. He had not a magic lamp, he said, with which to discover what Pakistan had done and was doing in Kashmir, but he could assure the Council that ‘’ the souls of Hitler and Gobbles have transmigrated to Pakistan’’! He said that when the Kashmiris had gained their freedom it would be for them to vote on the question either of accession or independence.’’ Lord Birdwood says ‘’ Again the reference to independence, as coming from Abdullah, seems at that early stage to have attracted surprisingly little attention’’.
Now comes the Resolution of 21st April 1948 as Mr Choudhry says, ‘stated that the people of Kashmir could only accede to India or Pakistan’’, then he brings in ‘the resolution of 13th August 1948’, which says, that the ‘future status of the state shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people.’ Diabolically deviating from the fact by focusing on a phrase ‘’future status’’ he interprets to suit him and accusing Pakistan’ Fearing the possibility of an independent Kashmir , the Pakistan Foreign Office, in a letter to the SC, enquired if the words ‘ future status’ could mean the Kashmiri people could have an independent Kashmir if that was the majority decision’; Shabir Ch claims that Pakistan government decided to suggest an amendment to this resolution… and he quotes the wording also. Let first see that the UNCIP 13 August 1948 Resolution part iii reads as ‘’ The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State Jammu and Kashmir shall determine in accordance with the will of the people and to that end, upon acceptance of the Truce Agreement both governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured’’. Mr Choudhry again failed to exhibit any evidence of any letter written to AGL McNaughton dating 28 December 1948 however letters from both the Government of India and Pakistan were received to UNCIP those are confirmed in the UNCIP meeting and its Resolution of 5th January 1949 which are dated 23rd and 25th Decemeber, 1948 (not 28 Dec 1948) and UNICIP Resolution 5 January 1949 states that ‘ respectively their acceptance of the principle which are supplementary to the Commission’s Resolution of August 13, 1948.’’. However, the SC Resolution (51) adopted on 3 June 1948 does mention a letter written by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan , dated 15th January 1948 and directs the Commission to study and report the matter raised in the letter ‘in the order outlined in Paragraph D of Council Resolution 39 (20 January 1948). Here point one that most of the SC Resolutions use the word ‘Reaffirm’ that clearly meant and understood generally that what ever has been decided previously, unless changed, will carry the same meaning so it was the case in 13th Aug 1948. Secondly it further clears reading UNICIP Resolution of 5 Jan 1949 which states ‘’Upon the signature of the Truce Agreement ( mentioned in Resolution of 13 Aug 48 in Part iii along with ‘reaffirm’) the detail of the foregoing proposals will be elaborated in the consultation envisaged in Part iii of the Commission’s Resolution of 13 Aug 1948. Thirdly McNaughton may have been the President of SC but did not enter in the scenario until December 17, 1949 when he was appointed an ‘informal Mediator’ by the SC. (Michael Brecher, The struggle for Kashmir p105 and Alastair Lamb , KASHMIR, A disputed legacy 1846-1990, p170) So if Mr Shabir Choudhry is suggesting that Pakistan has had some ‘back-handed’ contacts and was covertly in contact with SC President in December 1948, according to him a year before. Well! I’ve nothing much to say about that but on the contrary we don’t see hitherto Pakistan has much gained!
After further distortions and with speculations he blames Pakistan not fulfilling her obligations he states that ‘’ Under the SC Resolution, Pakistan had to withdraw all of her troops from the state’’ and again ‘the plebiscite would have gone against Pakistan’ speculating because Sheikh Abdullah was the ‘most popular’ leader and at the helm of political affairs result of the plebiscite could well have gone in India’s favour’ Dear Readers! According to the 1941 census the total population of the State was 4,021,616 of these 77% Muslim and 23 % the non-Muslim. The State consisted of several regions Kashmir (vale of) population of 1,728,705 of which 93.7% were Muslim. The other regions-Gilgit, Baltistan, and Ladakh-are almost entirely Muslims with the exception of one region of Ladakh adjacent to Tibet, where 40,939 Buddhists live’. ( Josef Korbel, Danger in Kashmir p6). Population statistics of Jammu and Kashmir State according to the government of India Census of 1941: Muslims 3,101,247 and non-Muslims 920,369 with Jammu Province consisting Jammu, with districts of Kathua, Udhampur, Reasi, Mirpur with Chenani and Poonch Jagirs; Kashmir Province districts of Baramula, Anantnag and Muzaffarabad also called ‘frontier districts’ Ladakh, Astore, Gilgit (leased area) and Gilgit Agency. (Lord Birdwood’s Two Nations and Kashmir p209) As above I state that Kashmir province having 93%, Jammu having 61% Muslim and the Frontier districts having more than 95% Muslim. I wonder if Mr Choudhry lives in cuckoo land? We cannot forget the unrest and the struggle that the people of Kashmir have been through for their basic rights and how they have seen the light of hope through the achievement of Muslims of British India, during the popular Muslim movement, surely the people of Jammu and Kashmir were not as narrow minded as Mr Shabir Choudhry speculates! Also at that time we see in history the people overwhelmingly were in favour of acceding to Pakistan.
Lets analyze how the writer speaks of Sh Abdullah ‘the most popular leader at the helm of political affairs’, about what was he thinking and how his mental state was. Also Mr Choudhry has blamed the ‘ officials of both countries all the time shadowed them’ the members of UNCIP visiting the region. Lord Birdwood analyses as: ‘ In disappointment the Commission visited Kashmir, Mr Huddle going to the Azad side, Mr Korbel proceeding to Srinagar. Korbel found Sheikh Abdullah disinclined to co-operation. He had resented the fact that negotiation had not been initiated on his own soil, and said so in no uncertain terms…Later , however , he thawed, and in a long interview he spoke of the various alternatives which faced him. He expressed his willingness to meet Ghulam Abbass…having discussed his dilemma he made a statement which appears astonishing, bearing in mind the position in 1948. ‘ there is in my opinion’ (Sheikh said) only one solution open. That is the division of the country.’ It is also of interest that throughout this interview he approached his topic as if accession was equally feasible either to India or Pakistan. (Two Nations and Kashmir p 97-98). How wise and right he was unlike Mr Choudhry that ‘if it is not achieved, the fighting will continue; India and Pakistan will prolong the quarrel indefinitely and our people’s suffering will go on’’ (Josef Korbel, Danger in Kashmir p147) Korbel also states that ‘ The Indian government had indicated previously its willingness to divide Kashmir between India and Pakistan.’’ He goes on ‘But there seemed to be this important difference-that while India seemed ready to divide the country as a realistic solution, Sheikh Abdullah saw in it an act of desperation and last resort’. Regarding Pakistani view he says ‘we knew, however, that Pakistan would refuse to consider any division of the country which would give the Valley of Kashmir with its overwhelming majority of Muslims to India. She felt she could not abandon the fate of the Kashmiris who preferred (the Pakistanis were sure) to join Pakistan. And indeed the Commission’s experience in Kashmir supported this opinion’. (Ditto p148). Do the facts support Shabir’s ‘the plebiscite would have gone against Pakistan’ and ‘ demoralising and disappointing to note that Pakistan too was interested in territorial gains’ speculations plus his distortions?
I’d like to conclude with response to Mr Shabir assertion in the second paragraph where he has stated about the Commission members in Sub continent that ‘the officials of both countries all the time shadowed them, they opened the door for an independent Kashmir’. To gauge authenticity of his assertion please read this quote ‘One morning the government at Srinagar arranged an excursion for the Commission to Baramula, a town thirty five miles from the capital……The Commission went from one place to another encircled by police and accompanied by thousands of wretched people. At one place a meeting was arranged and some one spoke, groups of people among the crowed responded with ‘India, Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah, Zindabad! Long live the union between India and Kashmir!’’ Anyone who had lived in a totalitarian country immediately recognised that the methods of organising a ‘spontaneous’ expression of the masses were the same the totalitarian world over. At one moment a young man broke the police cordon, threw a paper in front of the Commission, and shouted in English, ‘ I want to tell you that these people oppress us’. The police took him away immediately, but one could still hear him shouting from among the crowd, Long live Pakistan’. Korbel writes that this was a disturbing scene for the Commission which had been assured that the people enjoyed political freedom. The Commission asked the host (DC) to bring that man before the Commission. A few minutes later a man appeared, but it was quite obviously not the young man who had spoken to us’. When this fact was brought to the Commissioner’s (DC) attention, he insisted that it was the same man…but the man spoke himself ‘Yes’ he said, I am somebody else. My friend is in prison, but it does not matter; I can also tell you that we want to join Pakistan’’. (Josef Korbel, Danger in Kashmir, p148-49)
Wake up Mr Shabir, wake up!
Readers! I respect and appreciate all the views on Jammu and Kashmir’s future status but sometimes Mr Choudhry and people like him with agenda of hate and division, propels my instinct to strongly challenge the distortions with facts of history. Being a son of Kashmiri refugee from occupied Kashmir I love Pakistan and also accept the historical mistakes and flaws in government of Pakistan policy but will not tolerate ranting and questioning for pleasure, the integrity of Muslim leaders of that time. I challenge Mr Choudhry to come up with facts backed with historical reference and I assure you that I will not deprive you, as you do, or the readers to see the source of the information I quote. I request the readers to go and read, at least, the sources I’ve quoted and find out for yourselves what is right and wrong.. Shabir Choudhry has the problem that Zufliqar Ali Bhutto states in his book ‘Third World’ that when an ideology becomes slogan it looses its essence.