Articles

Kashmir – International Cockpit

Book Cover, Amal Kiran

Left: Cover of the Book from which this is excerpted. Right : Amal Kiran (K.D. Sethna), 1904-2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was originally published in the monthly journal ‘Mother India’ sometime between 1949–50, and is currently excerpted from the book “India and the World Scene”. The article is published below as is, except for the added emphasis.

Kashmir- International Cockpit

The Vital World-Issues at Stake

When President Truman and Prime Minister Attlee made an
appeal to India and Pakistan to submit to arbitration on the
Kashmir issue, what had appeared to many people a purely local
affair, a merely Indo-Pak problem, stood out in its true colours as a
question of international importance. To see precisely the pattern, so
to speak, of this importance it is necessary to cast a look backward at
the very creation of the two dominions that are now contending over
Kashmir.

Pakistan and Kashmir from Britain’s Viewpoint

Pakistan, no doubt, was a child of Mr. Jinnah’s brain, but every
child has a mother as well as a father. The two-nations theory on
which Mr. Jinnah sought to build Pakistan was assiduously encouraged
by the British Government, first as a means of dividing and
thereby weakening the country it desired to keep within its power, but
afterwards as an instrument by which it could secure in South Asia a
bastion against Soviet expansion. While Congress was foolishly
sitting on the fence between Russia and the western democracies,
even casting sympathetic glances towards the former, the Muslim
League under Mr. Jinnah’s leadership cleverly produced the impression
of being distinctly anti-Soviet on grounds of religion and also of
gratitude to the British for open or secret support against Congress.
The partition of India, therefore, seemed to assure Britain of an
excellent military base from which Russia’s aggressive designs in the
Asian continent could be counteracted.

With China going Communist, Pakistan became doubly valuable
for the western democracies, especially as India had not yet shed her
somewhat pro-Soviet inclinations. Pakistan’s growth in value turned
western eyes more anxiously upon Kashmir. For, in Kashmir there
was a common border between Russia and South Asia, leading
directly to the Indian subcontinent. Moreover, the region around this
border was of great strategic significance for a swoop down either on
India or Pakistan. Pakistan coveted Kashmir not only because she had
the fear-complex in an acute form but also because, as Pandit Nehru
has lately declared, certain parties in Pakistan have always been
acutely war-minded and set up the slogan: “First Kashmir, then
Patiala and then on to Delhi.” But it was not Pakistan alone that
wanted Kashmir within her fold: Britain too did so, in the belief that
world-safety called for the accession of this province to the Muslim
Dominion.

Russia’s Relations with India and Pakistan

The partiality of Britain and also America for Pakistan in the
Kashmir affair was a matter of considerable pain to India. But surely,
at that time, India herself was half to blame for the western democracies’
attitude. Unable easily to give up her animosity against what
she named Anglo-American imperialism, she had seen in the strength
of the Red Army in Europe the only real reason why Britain had made
friendly gestures to her: she suspected that if the Red Army were to be
defeated in Europe, Britain and other “imperialist” countries would
stretch again a greedy hand towards Asia. Consequently, India
planned never to come into conflict with Soviet interests. With such
an outlook she was bound to drive the western democracies into
Pakistan’s camp. She, however, counted on Russia to exert international
pressure on her behalf. When she took the Kashmir dispute to
the U.N.O., she expected that Russia would throw her whole weight
against Pakistan. Russia did nothing of the sort. The Soviet press, on
the outbreak of hostilities in Kashmir, had indicted Pakistan with
brutal aggression against the people of Kashmir, but in the U.N.O’s
Security Council Russia refused to vote against Pakistan. She remained
neutral. This was a terrible eye-opener for India and it
precipitated the realisation that had been slowly growing   - namely,
that Russia had little in common with India’s cultural no less than
political aspirations. A definite trend towards the Western bloc took
place in the mind of India’s government: she still desired not to be
mixed up in European power-politics but she could not help understanding
on what side her own cultural and political interests lay. As a
result Nehru opted to remain within the Commonwealth even while
affirming his country’s independent republican status.

A little foresight should have told India that Russia would always
have been too shrewd to come out openly against Pakistan. Firstly, she
has a considerable Muslim population of her own in Tadjistan,
Turkmenistan and her other Central Asian republics. Secondly, she
was not any too sure about India herself, dependent as India was in so
many respects on Britain. Thirdly, she was not meeting with all the
success she had hoped for in the issue of the Berlin-blockade, and
would not therefore miss any chance offered by circumstances to feel
for an opening in Asia. Fourthly, there was something in the Pakistani
mentality that struck Russia as being opportunist and easily temptable,
besides being not really in tune with the spirit of the West. Thus
it was not unnatural for Russia to stand aloof from India’s protest in
the U.N.O. and to wait and see whether any developments would
bring the important north-western parts of Kashmir within her sphere
of influence. And when India chose to retain her link with the
Commonwealth, Russia as good as made up her mind to take a hand
against her as soon as the slightest opportunity came along. Not a
slight but a huge opportunity presented itself when Pakistan and
Afghanistan developed a controversy over the Durand Line. If
Afghanistan’s claims were granted, Pakistan would be broken up
beyond repair, for the former demanded the whole of the region
between the Indus and the hills as her terra irridenta. Now Russia
threatened to back up Afghanistan and supply her with arms. Pakistan,
in mortal terror, changed her policy overnight: hence the projected
visit of Liaquat Ali Khan to Moscow in November in response to
Stalin’s invitation. Furthermore, Pakistan had been feeling rather
slighted and neglected ever since the Commonwealth Conference
where Nehru had been made much of and Liaquat Ali Khan had to
play a very small second fiddle. Soviet friendship would not only
teach the western kaffirs to be more attentive but also get Pakistan
concrete military aid both from Russia and from Czechoslovakia
which is a prominent armament-producing country and is totally
under Stalin’s thumb. The buying of very expensive arms from Italy
would be obviated and there would be a first-rate equipped army
ready to face all emergencies. Pakistan has grabbed the hand of
friendship stretched out by Stalin: The Dawn, her mouthpiece, has
even announced that Pakistan will be prepared to change her ways of
living and approximate as much as possible to the Russia ideology.
All this must be veritable vodka to Stalin. Not that he cares a rouble
for Liaquat Ali Khan: he would take the first chance to eat up
Pakistan, but – at the moment it pays him to play at being cordial
neighbours. At the least, Pakistan will refuse to lend a base in Gilgit to
the Anglo-American powers; at the most he himself, with Pakistan’s
friendliness towards him, will hover near enough to Gilgit to send a
shiver up the spines of both Truman and Attlee, not to mention the
naughty Nehru who had the effrontery to keep India within the
Commonwealth and who persists in preventing the Indian Communists
from turning his country into a chaos.

The Mistake of Truman and Attlee

Truman and Attlee have succumbed to the cold war waged by
Russia and Pakistan. Their arbitration-appeal clearly indicates a
desire to appease Pakistan by reopening the question whether there
should be disbandment and disarmament of the “Azad” Kashmir
bandits and by suggesting the partition of Kashmir so that the strategic
north may remain with Pakistan and that Pakistan, thus appeased, may
drop the idea of the proposed entente cordiale between herself and
Russia. We must not blame the American President and the British
Premier too much: hurriedly thinking in terms of international
politics, they have failed to gauge the uncertain nature of Indo-Pak
relations as well as the true posture of the Kashmir dispute. They fear
lest the dispute should spell the establishment of Soviet influence in
Gilgit and the areas around  –  with perilous possibilities as regards the
whole of South Asia. But, while understanding their intense concern
for the world at large, we must point out their grave mistake. Luckily,
Nehru has stood like a rock and, against his firm conviction that under
no circumstances can India compromise, Truman and Attlee are likely
to get jolted into a realisation of the folly they were countenancing. To
partition Kashmir would not cut across Stalin’s scheme to penetrate
into Pakistan and cast a grim shadow over India. The claim of
Afghanistan will still serve as a counter for putting his own demands
across. There is no law against supplying arms inexhaustibly to the
Afghan Government, and Pakistan would be pretty helpless against an
enemy backed by Russian resources. If England and America try to
placate Pakistan they will hardly succeed in restraining the endless
ambition of Russia who is resolved to make Kashmir a stepping-stone
to the aggrandisement of her ideology in both Pakistan and India.
What England and America will only achieve is India’s utter
enfeeblement and the dissolution of the democratic party of the
Muslims under Sheikh Abdullah, who are giving the coup de grace to
the two-nations theory. Nehru knows all this and therefore has
rejected the fatuous proposal for arbitration. If only he could throw the
real situation into clear relief before the eyes of Truman and Attlee,
the deadliest danger to which India and the rest of South Asia have
been exposed up to now will be averted.

Nehru’s Vision and True World-Peace

If Truman and Attlee are genuinely desirous of saving the
international situation in Kashmir from becoming explosive, they
should adopt here the same policy that they did when Russia
blockaded Berlin. The least appeasement then would have resulted in
a major defeat of the cause of true world-peace. At present it is not by
giving in to Russia and her friends that world-peace can be maintained
with honour: a determined and fully armed front has to be shown, for
only the readiness to meet the Russian monster serves as a restraining
force on the advance of the Godless and soulless darkness that is made
visible by the Red Star. The recent disclosure that Stalin has the atom
bomb should make no difference. On the contrary, now that Russia is
almost evenly matched with the U.S.A., there is all the more reason
for eschewing a policy of appeasement which may enhance her sense
of power and encourage her ambition. If, against the cordial relations
sought to be established between Stalin and Liaquat Ali Khan, there is
pitted a staunch friendship between Nehru and the heads of the
American and British Governments  –  if Truman and Attlee insist with
Nehru on spurning the idea of Kashmir’s partition and on holding a
free plebiscite whose sine qua non is the disbandment and disarmament
of the “Azad” forces, Russia will know that her support to
Pakistan will avail her nothing in securing a sphere of influence in the
Gilgit region and that any further egging on of either Pakistan against
India or Afghanistan against Pakistan will mean ultimately an atomic
world-war involving America and Britain and herself. Realising this,
she will drop her aggressive attitude, relax the tension she is creating
and leave interfering in a direct manner with South Asia as she has left
interfering in a direct manner with Western Europe. Kashmir is today
as much an international cockpit fraught with terrible possibilities of
democracy’s defeat on a world-scale as Berlin was a little while ago.
Let the western powers adopt the same method as they did in that testcase
and history will happily repeat itself. We should be thankful that
we have amongst us a statesman like Nehru whose eyes are not blind
to fundamentals and whose international standing is high enough to
bring him respectful hearing from both Truman and Attlee. On his
vision and resolution the safety of the world appears to hinge. The
mind and heart of every true Indian is with him in this crisis and we
wish his coming visit to the U.S.A. unqualified success in taking the
blinkers off the eyes of the American President.

 

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