June 27, 2001


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Arvind Lavakare

Our Freudian fixation for peace-at-any-cost with Pakistan

Journalistic deadlines can be deadly in effect. Thus it was a slip of the pen in this column last week that put the price for allowing the thief to retain our stolen property of Pak Occupied Kashmir at Rs 10 billion when, in fact, the mind's intent was $ 10 billion for India forfeiting that territory and accepting the LoC as the international border.

While that error is regretted, there is no slip in putting the tag of some Rs 480 billion on 78,114 sq kms of our stolen property. Remember, PoK touches the border of Pakistan on the west, kisses Afghanistan (read Taleban) on the north-west and touches China on the east. It is therefore a gigantic, critically strategic crown that could well bottle up Srinagar along with the rest of India lying south if the centrifugal forces of economic uncertainty and social unrest stirring across PoK as well as Pak itself ultimately become a whirlpool of unimaginable proportions under fundamentalist fangs and the red dragon's fire.

No 'analyst' from Outlook magazine or JNU or the proliferating institutes of strategic studies and think-tanks has even hinted at that danger of centrifugal forces whirring in our north. Although Pranawa Deshmukh, a professor of atomic and molecular physics at IIT, Chennai, has drawn attention to it in his book on Jammu & Kashmir that, alas, has not yet found a publisher --- possibly because it expounds the hypothesis that J&K is the fountainhead of ancient Hindu culture and civilisation.

Consider what constitutes PoK which, Vajpayee now belatedly says, he will 'discuss' with the new three-in-one Musharraf. But knowing that Vajpayee is a master wordsmith, 'discuss' may not preclude giving it away in order to be on his 'high road to peace' on the LoC. It is therefore vital that Indians should at least fully understand the PoK pullav.

PoK has three constituents:
1. 'Azad' Kashmir with its 'capital' at Muzaffarabad on the edge of the original Pakistan created at the behest of Jinnah's TNT -- two-nation theory. Very close to Muzaffarabad is Domel, 180 kms north-west of Srinagar.
2. Chitral-Gilgit-Baltistan region in the north and hence called the Northern Areas that have been ruled over by Islamabad since the time of a LoCal rebellion in Gilgit, which is some 360 kms by road from Srinagar.
3. China Occupied Kashmir (COK I) of 5,248 sq kms -- the gifting of which by Pak was announced on its radio when, believe it or not, a high-level Indian team was in Rawalpindi on December 22, 1962 to begin the first of six summits held under Nehru. (COK II in Ladakh District measures 52,307 sq kms outside PoK.)

Since no map of Jammu and Kashmir approved by the Government of India shows the above position, the map below, not drawn to scale, is only indicative of the above position so as to enable an understanding of the geography of PoK, the Chinese inroads and the J&K that is left for the Indian nation to defend as well as feed but for Farooq Abdullah to govern or misgovern.

Muzaffarabad is where our J&K cancer originated. Sporadic raids from Pakistan into the princely state had begun during the 1947 communal riots of Punjab; these snowballed when the extremely poor, uncivilised and belligerent inhabitants of the hilly tribal territory -- lying between Afghanistan and North West Frontier Provinces and that had passed on to Pakistan after Partition -- were pushed into J&K by their co-religionists in Pakistan so as to secure for them the paradise on earth.

Marching through miles of Pak territory, a large force of these tribals, long appeased by the British out of Indian revenues, entered the mouth of the Kashmir Valley at Muzaffarabad in 300 lorries. They began looting and burning, armed with Bren guns, Sten guns, grenades, heavy mortars, anti-tank rifles, land mines and a seemingly endless supply of ammunition. The Pakistan hand behind all this was invisible only to the blind.

After sacking Muzaffarabad, the invaders continued their march along the Jhelum Valley road to reach Uri, 105 kms from Srinagar, and thence to Baramulla which they sacked for three days before entering Srinagar to be confronted by the Indian Army that had landed in Srinagar on October 27, 1947, a day after the J&K Maharaja had signed his state's accession to India legally and constitutionally under the Indian Independence Act, 1947.

Even as the Indian Army fought the snows and the logistics in pushing the tribals and the accompanying Pak Army back to Muzaffarabad, there came the cease-fire a minute before midnight on the first day of the year 1949. It came because Nehru chose to approach the United Nations rather than to let the valiant Indian Army capture Muzaffarabad and thereby abort the birth of 'Azad' Kashmir as well as of the remaining PoK. It was not to be; the stupid 'high road to peace' psyche of India had ensured the birth of a fundamentalist Frankenstein on our own sacred soil.

And what is the state of 'Azad' Kashmir today? A summary of the conditions there is available from the interview with Arif Shahid, a LoCal political leader, appearing in The Times of India, Mumbai, of November 26, 2000. Following are telling excerpts from that interview:

  • "At least 60 per cent of the population understand that Pakistan is merely exploiting them
  • "Our Prime Minister and President can be pushed around even by junior bureaucrats
  • "We have no medical college, no engineering college
  • "Our natural resources are usurped by Pakistan
  • "Election nomination forms require us to take an oath that we believe in Kashmir's accession to Pakistan
  • "We do not want to be slaves."

All who urge greater 'autonomy' to Abdullah's bankrupt J&K should note the above. So should Vajpayee when Musharraf mentions 'the will of the Kashmiri people' to him

Let's now go to Gilgit, 360 kms by road to the north of Srinagar. This region is one of perpetual intrigue and political turmoil. Though permanently annexed to J&K in 1859, the British became very suspicious of what they called 'the advance of Russia up to the frontiers of Afghanistan' and believed that 'the northern passes of Hindukush afford a force large enough to cause excitement if nothing worse in Kashmir'. Hence, the de facto administration of the Gilgit frontier passed into the hands of the British in 1889 through the political agency called the Gilgit Agency.

In pursuit of the British government's announcement that the control and administration of Gilgit would be returned to J&K State, the Maharaja deputed one of his men as governor of Gilgit in July 1947. But under the direction of certain British and Muslim officers of the military outfit known as Gilgit Scouts there was a revolt by which the governor was arrested on October 31, 1947 and a provisional government was formed under one Major Brown. On November 4, he ceremoniously hoisted the Pakistan flag in Gilgit and, two weeks later, Peshawar sent its agent to rule over Gilgit.

A few months later, Pak annexed Chitral, LoCated just below the Afghan border and some 150 kms north-west of Gilgit.

Before the UN-sponsored cease-fire could come into effect, the Chitral-Gilgit-Hunza-Nagir-Baltistan region -- called the Northern Areas -- was under Pakistan's control.

And what is the condition today of those Northern Areas of Pakistan? According to an unconfirmed account, the Pak Supreme Court ruled in May 1999 that 'Northern Areas are a disputed territory and the Government of Pakistan has no claim whatsoever over it.' However, Arif Shahid says that the 'Azad' Kashmir Supreme Court has held that these Northern Areas must be merged with 'Azad' Kashmir but the Pak Supreme Court has not ratified that verdict.

Whatever be the judicial truth, the fact is that Pakistan continues to divide the people of that region on Shia-Sunni basis even as the discontent there is spreading, with various political units agitating for people's rights on a wide spectrum. For details of the chaos and deprivation in the Northern Areas see Stirrings of rebellion in Gilgit.

Lastly, there's that audacious gift of 5,248 sq kms of PoK to China in February 1963 at an official function attended by Zulfiqar Bhutto in Peking. India didn't even squeal then. Will Vajpayee dare to "discuss" it now with the three-in-one nawab of Pakistan?

Judging by the prevailing ignorance-cum-indifference among Indians about PoK, it won't be a surprise if Vajpayee escapes with a mere blink on the issue. And, god forbid, even give some concessions on India-held J&K -- all in the interest of peace with Pakistan.

It will not be surprising because the New Delhi press conference on June 12 held by the president of the Panthers Party got scanty publicity although what he announced was, going by the UNI report, front page news: a march of 50,000 people to the capital to give Musharraf a memorandum with a million signatures demanding that Pakistan withdraw totally from PoK as mandated by the UN Resolution of August 13, 1948.

About our Freudian fixation for peace-at-any-cost with Pakistan, you see, nothing has changed from Nehru's times to those of VOI -- Vajpayee Occupied India.

Arvind Lavakare

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