Our leaders’ understanding of Kashmir dispute is pitiable. So is that of the jobbing “historians” who leave no stone unturned to conjure up sensational narratives with a storyline too far-fetched? On the one hand our leaders believe that Sheikh Sahib was signatory to the “Instrument of Accession” (pls. See SAS Geelani’s statement GK, May 17, 2013, which he seems to have made inadvertently) and on the other the jobbing “historians” absolve him of all the blame in this episode of infamy that mutilated the independence of Kashmir; leading to its occupation by disparate forces, with enormously irreconcilable and ill-assorted racial, cultural and religious differences, and to collective humiliation and bondage of its hapless, poor people. They even portray him as aggressively antagonistic to the very idea of Kashmir’s “Accession” to India and misconstrue the nature of his relationship with its people and their leaders. They also keep on harping that he was hard pushed towards India by none other than Muhammad Ali Jinnah whose devotion to upholding the partition ethics they misinterpret as his conceit and his negative response to “Mountbatteen’s proposal of plebiscite for Kashmir”; a wild accusation that has no legs to stand upon.
Both the categories of these people–the leaders and the hired writers–appear to be either discomfited by knowledge deficit on the Kashmir issue or are purposely confusing the people for political or other considerations.
To ascertain the truth and understand the issue–one of the greatest events of notoriety in the contemporary history of Kashmir–in its proper perspective both the leaders and the writers need to revisit history which I am sure will make them understand that Sheikh Sahib had no locus standi to become a signatory to the “Instrument of Accession”, nor was he in a position to be part of the line of action that was the prerogative of the Maharaja Bahadur. “Obviously such a depiction of Kashmir leadership is extremely illogical and unfounded; it is like establishing a tawny coloured Labrador as Jackal’s brother or white coloured tall donkey as a racing horse. If at all it played any role in those circumstances it was not as signatory but as facilitator of the clandestine plot of Indian occupation of Kashmir” and as host and receptionist to greet, guide and take care of the Indian Army in the Valley much before the phoney document was deposited in the chest of Home Ministry. (Dr. Ahad, Kashmir: Triumphs & Tragedies. P, 206)
A cautious and objective examination of historical material available with the State Archives will allow them a full grasp of the role played by the so called signatory to the “deed” in facilitating unnatural, forced and direct linkage between the two mismatched parts, Kashmir and India, through a fake, murky “Accession” with fudged dates and doubtful signature of the Maharaja (a copy of which can be seen @ ibid, pp 207-208). Even the CID reports of the time shed ample light on his pro-“Accession” leanings and anti-League vibes for which he was lauded by the Congress as a hero and “Lord Krishna” incarnate and reprimanded and castigated by the Muslim League as a “rotten egg”. His close association with the Nehru family which preceded the conversion of the Muslim Conference into the National Conference and was nurtured and raised to immutable heights by occasional and special dinners served to him by the only daughter of the Pariwar, and his unfriendly gestures and inhospitable and hostile attitude towards those who had set themselves up as crusaders for separate homeland for the Muslims can be seen as an inevitable prelude to his positive and active career as a surrogate of the Indian intervention into Kashmir. He made his anti-Pakistan and pro-India stance public much before August 1947 which, ultimately, inspired Sardar Vallahbhai Patel, the iron man of India, to forget and leave aside his differences with Nehru and come to the fore to strengthen his hands in seeking Kashmir’s “accession” to India by hook or by crook.
He was equally opposed to the idea of Sovereign Kashmir for which he put to disgrace its chief protagonist Pundit R. C. Kak; the Prime Minister who had succeeded to win the Maharaja to his side. As the Kak’s initiative of free, sovereign Kashmir was likely to put in jeopardy Kashmir leadership’s endeavours to make it just an appendage to India it implored its patrons and sponsors for help which they made available swiftly through Gandhi ji who prevailed upon the Maharaja not only to remove the Kak from the scene but also to release Sheikh Sahib from the jail. The powerful voice for independence was, thus, callously muzzled, once for all, to ensure Kashmir’s occupation by the Indian forces—unopposed and unchecked– with the active assistance of the local leadership that was overwhelmingly inimical to the very idea of Pakistan which it believed would scuttle the prospect of its political hegemony and plug all chances of self-aggrandizement and devastate the future of its progeny. Likewise it opposed vehemently the proposal of plebiscite. In one of his meetings with Josef Korbel Sheikh Sahib quite candidly opposed both the independence and plebiscite for Kashmir.
Envisioning an independent State was/is not a wishful thinking as presumed generally and more particularly by the hired advocates of perfidy. It was indisputably, a realistic idea and if chased in a practical way would have definitely materialized to resurrect a self-reliant, self-contained and prosperous Kashmir that had been bombed into oblivion in 1586 by the short-sightedness and impetuousness of its leadership. Kak was fervently eager to perk up a sovereign Kashmir to protect our national interest, culture and ethos against a foreign onslaught and also save his benefactor’s power and dynastic rule from extinction. Like pre-Mughal sovereign Kashmir, his independent Kashmir was all set to mobilize the rich indigenous resources: water, horticulture, agriculture, tourisms, handicrafts, minerals and medicinal herbs–the Valley of Kashmir abounds with and of which Jammu and Ladakh are so conspicuously devoid–to sustain its sovereignty. (To ascertain the extent to which these resources can keep going economic growth of an independent Kashmir See: Tarikh-i-Kalan-i-Kashmir (anonymous), Patiala Archives; Imperial Gazetteers Vol, xv; Foreign Secret Correspondence (1819 onwards), National Archives of India) The British Residency records too point towards this development and hold R. C. Kak responsible for persuading the Maharaja to join his chorus; making him so obsessive about independence that he began openly declining to merge with either of the dominions; declaring, thus, that his State would work out its “ own destiny without dictation from any quarter.” With the inclusion of the territories of Jammu and Ladakh Maharaja’s independent State would have been slightly different in its circumference from that of medieval sovereign State which was confined to the main Valley and its adjoining areas. His ambition was “to make Kashmir the Switzerland of the East” with guarantees from powers “not excluding Russia” and even China. But for the cold, calculating and manipulative politics of the times his aspiration remained unfulfilled; a mere dream which most of the Kashmiris are now trying to accomplish to the discomfiture and discomfort of those who zealously and religiously advocate that the Valley of Kashmir cannot be sovereign. Such a State, they maintain, is doomed to evaporate amidst the big powers that surround the territories of two Kashmir’s. How do the independent States, less significant, sparsely populated, so devoid of resources like water and minerals and smaller in size than the Valley of Kashmir, manage to coexist with great powers with conflicting interests is a big question which needs to be looked into objectively by the “historians”.
The Kashmir dispute is a child born out of an aberrant and unnatural wedlock facilitated by a local who acted as a go-between to try and work out an agenda at a critical juncture when the horrors of death and destruction of the most bloody of civil wars of contemporary history were still haunting the people of the Sub-continent. This Uncared Child of the Incomplete Partition was subsequently adopted by the UN; an international body that spared no efforts to groom it up with special care and parental affection which are profusely manifest in its Resolutions. These Resolutions are the very life and soul of the dispute. They are as relevant as the dispute itself. It is because of these Resolutions that Kashmir is universally recognized as a disputed territory.
(Dr. Abdul Ahad is the author of: Kashmir to Frankfurt; Kashmir Rediscovered; Kashmir: Triumphs & Tragedies. Legends of Unsung Heroes of Kashmir is his forthcoming publication)