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Kashmir, Pakistan and the Indo-Afghan Treaty

Book Cover, Amal Kiran

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This essay was simply titled “Two Important Events” and 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 first part of the article is published below as is, except for the added emphasis. The second part concerns events in Yugoslavia, which is not included below.
The opening line in the essay refers to “the matter of Red China” – This refers to a significant turning point in the 20th century, when the Chinese Communists under the leadership of Mao overthrew the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek and demanded recognition as a new country from the world. Their proposed constitution was markedly anti-democratic, and portended a severe regression in civilisational values. Amal Kiran published two articles in Mother India discouraging the Indian government from recognizing Red China – “Should Red China be Recognised?” & “No Recognition for Red China”. On principle, the US recognized only Kai-shek’s government-in-exile in Taiwan, and refused to recognise the PRC for another 30 years, while Nehru’s bent of mind pushed him to recognize the PRC in six months.

Two Important Events

In the midst of the deplorable failure of both logic and vision among a host of democratic countries, in the matter of Red China – in the midst of the terrible danger to which hurried recognition has exposed India and the rest of Asia – two events of substantial significance for the cause of civilisation have taken place. They may seem to be local in their bearings, but behind them are mighty issues at stake and it is worthwhile indicating these issues and their backgrounds.

The events in question are concerned with Kashmir and Yugoslavia. The Kashmir issue, if we glance at its background, is pretty clear. For many years the popular party in this province has been the one headed by Sheikh Abdullah. It is that party which, during British rule, carried on a campaign both against the British and against the autocratic Maharaja. Congress supported it throughout, while the Muslim League took no hand here, as also it took no hand anywhere else, in helping the cause of the people of India. In 1947 Kashmir was invaded by trans-frontier tribesmen aided and abetted by Pakistan: the marauders occupied Muzzaffarabad, sacked Baramula, murdered and looted on a grand scale, committed unrestricted arson, and were within an ace of taking Srinagar. At this moment the Maharaja appealed to India for help and negotiated the instrument of accession by which India’s help would be rendered perfectly legitimate. What is of greater meaning, he handed over the reins of government to the popular party of Sheikh Abdullah which was stoutly opposed to the inroads of the tribesmen. Thus when India sent troops by air to Kashmir she went to the assistance really not of the mere Maharaja but of the Kashmiri people.

Against the truly representative party of Sheikh Abdullah a puppet government was set up by Pakistan – the so-called Azad Kashmir Government which was hand-in-glove with the bandits from across the Frontier. Further, when it seemed that the Indian army would sweep the country clean of the tribesmen, Pakistan despatched her own troops into Kashmir. Her action, therefore, was not just confined to inspiring and equipping the tribal invaders: it came actually to invasion by herself of territory which was India’s by a legal right backed up by the people of Kashmir. But both her part in the original entry of tribesmen and her own violation of foreign territory were sought to be kept secret by her and she went on denying her double complicity until it could no longer be concealed from the U.N. Commission. Another highly objectionable action by her is that under the very nose of the U.N. Commission she has gone on strengthening and organising the Azad forces so that what was once a small band of rebels is now swollen to 32 regular battalions. These are the facts of the case and there can be no doubt that Pakistan is absolutely in the wrong and that no solution of the Kashmir problem by a free plebiscite is possible before Pakistani troops are withdrawn from Kashmiri soil and the Azad forces totally disbanded and disarmed. What makes Pakistan an all the more odious interloper is her bigoted persecuting sectarian mentality. She is avowedly an Islamic State with a strong antipathy to Hindus and with a record of heartless harrassment of them. Intellectually, too, she is obscurantist: the latest example of her ridiculous intolerance in matters of the mind is her strict ban on the entry into Pakistan of H.G. Wells’s History of the World in any edition because it contains a chapter on Muhammed and Islam which does not toe the official line of thought in Karachi! Any territorial advancement by such a country cannot help being a move against civilised values. Hence India, in refusing to accept Pakistan’s presence and the terrorist Azad Government in any part of Kashmir, is not only politically but also spiritually right. And she is confirmed in her stand by most other Muslim countries themselves. Dr. Hatta of Indonesia1 gave recently a slap in Pakistan’s face by expressly declaring: “We are an Asiatic State rather than an Islamic State.” Even apart from this, Indonesia’s staunch sympathy with Nehru’s India in everything is well-known. Further, India’s election to the U.N. Security Council was supported unreservedly by seven Muslim countries: Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. This shows the confidence even the whole Muslim world, barring Pakistan, has in the ideals which India stands for.

But Pakistan has no intention of allowing a just solution of the Kashmir problem. The cry of “War!” is all the time on her lips. As Sardar Patel said on January 4 in Bombay, there are many groups in Pakistan ‘Openly declaring their wish to fly the green flag not only over Srinagar but also over Delhi’. And Pakistan’s feverish activity in the arms market is now public knowledge. In addition to buying arms in various continental countries, especially Italy, she has bought nominally demilitarised tanks from Britain and is busy trying to purchase aircraft which are intended for transport purposes but can be used in an emergency as bombers. From Canada she has imported guns, rifles and cartridges valued at $7,000,000. She knows that without war she has no chance of keeping a foothold in Kashmir. She will not consent to any arrangement which, however fair, would endanger this foothold.

She accepted the suggestion by Truman and Attlee for arbitration because she knew that it meant the partitioning of Kashmir, with the militarily advantageous northern territory falling into her own hands. She was also not unwilling to abide by General McNaughton’s recent proposal that her armies should withdraw from Kashmir, but here too the rest of the McNaughton plan was in her favour. General McNaughton2 urged the equated progressive withdrawal of the Indian and Pakistani troops simultaneously with the demilitarisation of the Azad forces, and the administration of the northern areas by local authority rather than by the Kashmir and Jammu Government. The whole arrangement was unsound. The northern areas would remain practically under Pakistan’s influence, and the withdrawal of India’s army, simultaneously with that of Pakistan’s and with the disbanding and disarming of the Azad forces, would put India at a serious disadvantage for two reasons: first, there would be little check on the Azad forces secretly regrouping and becoming again a terrorist agency – second, as an article in the New Statesman and Nation reminds us, India’s withdrawal would cover hundreds of miles of arduous transport involving months, while Pakistan would withdraw easily over a good motor road through the Jhelum Valley to Rawalpindi, and the Azad forces would remain where they were, though without arms; with the result that these forces could at once take up arms if necessary and Pakistan could quickly return and occupy the Kashmir Valley whereas India would have to struggle for a long time over difficult terrain in order to cope with the emergency.

No, Pakistan’s show of agreeableness to plans and proposals has not the least desire behind it to admit her utterly unjustifiable position. And such being the case, she is bound to put her trust in the sword. All the signs go to spell an outbreak of hostilities with the passing of winter. Pandit Nehru has indeed made an effort to rule out war. He sent a proposal to the Pakistan Government to the effect that a joint declaration should be issued stating that in no event should there be a recourse to war for a solution of any problem facing the two countries. A guarded, much qualified response has come. And no response will let Kashmir be at rest unless India goes back on her stand and lets the strategic north remain in Pakistan’s control. India cannot agree to partition, as partition would mean not only allowing an unlawful intruder to get away with his misdeed but also put India militarily at his mercy. If it is argued that no military danger will arise, since the pact ruling out war will be in force, the answer must be made: “The situation of Pakistan dominating the Kashmir Valley from a military advantageous north provides the occasion for clearly confessing that a peace-pact with Pakistan has little value because a fanatic Islamic State with marked hatred for Hindus cannot ever have peaceful intentions: its very ideology precludes the principle of ‘live and let live’ “. We may be accused of prejudging the case, but insight into the nature of the party we have to deal with as well as past experience of its tactics makes us suspicious and in our view India would commit a mistake if she stopped being militarily vigilant under any conditions.

The Indian Government has to be ready for unpleasant emergencies. And it is in connection with this that the event about which we spoke at the beginning of our article acquires significance. The event is the Indo-Afghan Peace Treaty signed in New Delhi and its significance is multi fold. In the first place, it explodes once again the myth fostered by Pakistan that India is a menace to Islam. A Muslim country, a neighbour of Pakistan herself, has declared deep friendship with India. In the second place, it makes short work of the claim frequently heard in Karachi that Muslim countries have some special exclusive affinity among themselves because of their religion. It is a blow to the attempt at reviving bigotry and sustaining it by a sort of Pan-Islam association to offset India’s status in South Asia. In the third place, it is an indirect restraint both upon Pakistan’s ambitions against India and upon her high-handedness with the Pathans in the North-West Frontier Province. Kabul is in complete favour of the Pakhtoon movement which is gaining ground in that province and she has laid claim to the entire area between the Indus and the hills as her terra irridenta3. So her joining hands with India in a treaty of friendship precluding all war throws into the boldest relief the rather uncomfortable position of Pakistan, almost wedged as she is between India and Afghanistan. Emphatically, though between the lines, is Pakistan made to read that in the event of any armed conflict with India she will get not the slightest countenance from Afghanistan but on the contrary Afghanistan may feel inclined to press more strongly her own claim and pay Pakistan back for the several arrogant acts towards her of which she is guilty. Of course, all this is not said in so many words in the treaty. In fact, the operative articles in the treaty are so worded as to avoid all complexion of a defence-pact against a common enemy. What is stressed is only the strengthening of the cordial relations existing between the peoples of the two countries and what is agreed upon by the two Governments is enhancement of the cultural ties and assistance in industrial and agricultural progress. But we must not forget that, when the treaty agrees not only to continue the existing trade agencies but also to establish more, it implies an ever-growing passage of Indo-Afghan trade through Pakistan which is the intervening territory. Any unwillingness on Pakistan’s part to permit this trade, such as her recent peevish disqualification of Afghan lorries from carrying merchandise to India, is bound to strain relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan no less than between the latter and our own country. The treaty creates a somewhat ticklish all-round situation for Pakistan. Whatever absence of military commitment there may be in the operative articles, the open concordat between the Indian Government and the Afghan on a pretty comprehensive scale is a very significant event in the prospect of a possible flare-up of Indo-Pak hostilities after the winter. In its own innocuously phrased way it constitutes a considerable triumph for India in her civilised endeavour to check the bellicose fever of narrow religionism and communalism from blowing unpleasant breaths across her north-western borders or else to meet it squarely with armed force and make an end of it.

 

[1] Mohammad Hatta, PM of Indonesia at the time.

[2] President of the Security Council of the U.N in 1949. Full text of his proposal in Dec ’49 is here.

[3] “a region that is under the political jurisdiction of one nation but is related to another by reason of cultural, historical, and ethnic ties”

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