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Catch up on history, Mr Aziz

By Arvind Lavakare
Last updated on: April 05, 2005 13:03 IST
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Judging by what he told the elite gathered for the India Today Conclave in New Delhi last month, Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz is ignorant of: 1. his country's conventional stand on Kashmir or of 2. the history by which Jammu & Kashmir became a full-fledged state of the Indian Union or of 3. the principles of international law or 4. of all the preceding three.

Here's what he said then as reported in The Asian Age, Mumbai edition, of February 26, 2005: 'The J&K issue is not about territories and ideologies. It is a human problem. Kashmiris have been denied their right of self-determination.' There's more of what he said, but we'll come to that later.

For a Pakistani to say that J&K is not about a territory is as false and farcical as saying that Nawaz Sharif handed Pak's reins to Musharraf with a hug before retiring to sanyas in Saudi Arabia.

Let Shaukat Aziz look up the records of his country's long series of talks with Hindustan between December 1962 and May 1963. If those records are 'lost' in Pakistan, here's help from an eyewitness to those talks, Y D Gundevia, ICS, the last foreign secretary to Jawaharlal Nehru.

On pages 273 and 280 of his book Outside The Archives(Sangam Books India Pvt Ltd, 1984) Gundevia writes that during those talks at New Delhi in January 1973, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then prime minister of Pakistan, wanted a territorial division taking into account the population of J&K, the control of rivers, the requirement of defence and other considerations relevant to the determination of an international boundary line.

At Karachi the next month, Bhutto harped on 'isolating the problem of the valley' where, lest Mr Aziz doesn't know, Muslims were (and still are) by far the largest community. Hence, when the Indian delegation, wanting to understand what precisely Bhutto meant, spread the Kashmir map on the table and asked him to show exactly where he wished the new international boundary line to run, Bhutto leaned over the table, pointed to the little town of Kathua on the Kashmir-Himachal border, drew a circle round it with his forefinger and said, 'You can have this part of Kashmir. We want the rest.' How's that, Mr Aziz, about territory and religious ideology not being the issue in J&K?

More specific to ideology, Mr Aziz, every boss of Pakistan from Mohammed Ali Jinnah downwards has believed that Kashmir is the unfinished business of the 1947 Partition that was based on the two-nation theory of British India being carved into Hindustan for Hindus and Pakistan for Muslims?

Aziz's second contention that the 'Kashmiris have been denied their fundamental right to self-determination' is an ignorance that is unforgivable in any prime minister of any country that participates in any debate on the J&K issue on any international platform. It's a double whammy, really, because it betrays lack of knowledge about the historical emergence of the self-determination concept as well as of the evolution of J&K state as an integral part of India.

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 'Self-determination is a principle in international law that a people ought to be able to determine their own governmental forms and structure free from outside influence.' First articulated as 'self-rule' by Woodrow Wilson (US President 1912 to 1920), it was used for drawing the boundaries of Eastern Europe and affecting decolonisation after World War II. Later, at the ratification of the UN Charter in 1951, the self-determination clause was introduced to let former colonies have a say in their future.( wikipedia on Self-determination).

All the ignorant ones from India and Islamabad to Whitehall and Washington must be told once and for all that, excepting those parts that were seized by Pakistan in its brazen aggression of October 1947, Jammu & Kashmir has undergone a thorough self-determination exercise -- not only of the erstwhile state run under a monarchical system but also of the entire people living there. The state's accession to India signed by the J&K maharaja was not, repeat not, the self-determination one speaks of. Rather, the real, genuine self-determination was only initiated after the accession deed was signed and it was completed about a decade later. Here's how.

  • Even after its accession to the Indian Dominion, J&K's internal administration was governed, not by a diktat of New Delhi, but by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution Act, 1939. It was under this Act that Maharaja Hari Singh appointed his former adversary, Sheikh Abdullah, as the emergency administrator for the state. The appointment was a victory for the people who simply loved Abdullah. He began giving them a large share in the administration of the state's affairs.
  • Soon enough, the people demanded that the 'emergency administration' be changed into a 'responsible government.' Compelled by the public, Hari Singh issued a proclamation on March 5, 1948 announcing the formation of an interim government with Abdullah as the prime minister aided by such other ministers as he desired to constitute a cabinet. This arrangement, said the proclamation, was pending the framing of a fully democratic Constitution by a National Assembly based on adult suffrage.
  • In June 1949, Yuvraj Karan Singh, who had ascended the throne after his father's abdication in that very month, nominated four representatives to the Indian Constituent Assembly for deliberating on the framing of the Constitution of India. These four were the choice, not of the Yuvraj, but of Abdullah's council of ministers. These J&K representatives made it abundantly clear to the Indian Constituent Assembly that their state's association with India would be based only on the terms of the Instrument of Association, that the state was not committed to the acceptance of the Indian Constitution and that it would like to have its own Constitution.
  • On May 1, 1951, Yuvraj Karan Singh issued a proclamation declaring the convening of a State Constituent Assembly, consisting of representatives of the people on the basis of adult franchise, for framing a Constitution for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. For the purpose of elections to the proposed Constituent Assembly, the state was to be divided into territorial constituencies each with a population of 40,000 or thereabouts.
  • Elections to the Constituent Assembly were completed by August that year with the idolised Abdullah's National Conference Party simply sweeping the polls. Addressing its first meeting held on October 31 that year, Sheikh Abdullah declared that the assembly's objectives and functions included, inter alia, a reasoned conclusion regarding accession and the future of the state. He enumerated three alternatives: accession to India, accession to Pakistan and complete independence.
  • The 'Drafting Committee' of the above assembly presented its report on February 12, 1954. Its report, adopted on February 15, 1954, embodied the ratification of the state's accession to India, with 64 of the assembly's strength of 75 voting unanimously while 11 members were absent.
  • The State Constituent Assembly enacted, on November 17, 1956, a Constitution that is, today, the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir. It has 158 Sections. Section 3 therein says, 'The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.' Section 147 in it prohibits any bill to amend Section 3 from being introduced or moved in either House of the State Legislature.

Can self-determination be more complete and thorough than the above sequence, Mr Aziz?

Apart from the crap of territory and self-determination, the present Pakistan prime minister believes that because the Kashmiris were denied their freedom and basic rights, 'they waged a struggle' and 'when their peaceful struggle met with violence and repression, they did what all desperate people do. They fought back with all the means at their disposal. To dismiss the entire Kashmiri freedom struggle as cross-border terrorism would be an over-simplification.'

Well, well, well, Mr Aziz, did it take over 30 years from the enactment of their state Constitution for the Kashmiris to realise this so-called denial of freedom and basic rights to them? Why did the terrorism and ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits begin from about 1986 in Anantnag to 1990 and thereafter in the entire valley as well as Muslim majority areas bordering it from the Jammu side?

The first question brooks no reply. Answers to the second question will be available only with Pakistan's ISI and, perhaps, only in the anonymous diary in a small packet abandoned near the mound of rubble of one of the scores of burnt and vandalised homes of Kashmiri Pandits in Srinagar.

Getting the packet from a retired BSF officer, the diary in it has now been converted by Tej Dhar, a professor of English in a north-east African university, into a riveting book that is at once realistic and melancholic. Titled Under the shadow of militancy -- the diary of an unknown Kashmiri (Rupa & Co, 2002), the book is an account of what an ordinary, unknown man saw, experienced and reflected upon between the months of February and August 1990 -- August 23 to be precise because a half-blank page has that date, the date of the last entry obviously.

Space limits extensive quotes from that remarkable document, but pearls from just three pages therein provide logic as to why terrorism took root and spread in J&K. Here they are below for the benefit of Mr Aziz and all those ignorant ones from India to Islamabad and from Whitehall to Washington.

  • 'Is this violence a resurgence of the early phase of Islam, some kind of atavistic reawakening, or is it something new? My friends in the valley say that it is a new Pan-Islamic awareness, for Muslims are now dreaming of controlling the entire world. My friend Raju often quotes H G Wells on this: wherever the Muslims are in a minority, they plead for democratic rights; but where they are in a majority, they fight for a theocracy.
  • 'Our Communist friends in New Delhi explain it (violence) in purely secular terms. It is no religious war, they say; it is the downtrodden rising up against the classes which have been dominating the entire population of the Muslims. George Fernandes, who is a special minister for Kashmir affairs, visited the city several times, met hundreds of Muslims, and gave statement after statement that the community was aggrieved they were inadequately represented in the services. People like him should have known that Sheikh Abdullah and the chief ministers who followed him had devised a special preferential policy for Muslims, because of which jobs could not have gone to the Pandits.
  • 'The Pir spoke vehemently against all the older leaders of Kashmir for their lack of respect for the faith. Quite significantly, he spoke approvingly of Gilani who, as an elected member of the legislative assembly of the state, once quoted a verse from the Koran right on the floor of the House to prove how the secular ideal was a falsity legitimised by politicians.
  • 'Everywhere we heard stories of more and more people enlisting for going across the border. In fact, going across had become synonymous with adventure. Pakistani agents had succeeded in raising a large band of highly motivated local agents in the valley, who used all conceivable ways to enlist more people into their fold. Wherever it became necessary, they tempted them with huge offers of money, which they gave them or to their parents. The entire operation was labelled Jihad, which no Muslim could dare to oppose.'

You want that Diary, Mr Aziz? Just ask our PM.

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Arvind Lavakare