Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Prem Shekhar

Leaders of Muslim League vociferously spoke again and again for partition of the Indian Sub-continent and creation of a homeland for Indian Muslims.  Their actions, however, speak otherwise.  Mohammad Al Jinnah described Hindus and Muslims as two “nations” a myriad times till he got Pakistan, but, changed his tone the moment he became the chairman of Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly.  Addressing the Assembly from the chair on August 11, 1947 he called Hindus and Muslims as just two “Communities” and more importantly, declared Pakistan would become a modern secular state, not an Islamic state.  After assuming the prime ministerial office Liaqat Ali Khan openly declared that there was no place in Pakistan for Indian Muslims except those from East Punjab.  He forgot at that moment he was from United Province (today’s Uttar Pradesh), not from East Punjab.  Both Jinnah and Khan tried in vain to get ‘Hindu’ states of Udaipur, Jaipur and Jaisalmer acceded into ‘Muslim’ Pakistan.  Demographically the real Pakistan was East Pakistan as 56% of Pakistanis lived there.  But, in 1956 the then Pakistan prime minister Choudhury Mohammad Ali suggested to Indian leaders to take East Pakistan and give Jammu and Kashmir in return!

So, what emerges from these facts is that the Muslim League and the creators of Pakistan didn’t have any interest in the welfare of Muslims of the Sub-continent.  In reality they just wanted some territory for themselves to rule and they got it by using the religious card cleverly.  They successfully fooled the world by hiding the real reason and lying to the whole world that they, only they, were for the welfare of Indian Muslims.

This explains the “real” reason behind Pakistan’s quest for mastery over Jammu and Kashmir.  Pakistanis don’t have any love for Kashmiri Muslims, instead, they are interested only in the economic and strategic importance of J&K to their country.  All major rivers of Pakistan either originate in or flow through J&K.  Thus, J&K is the source of water for Pakistan and it’s anybody’s guess what will happen to that country if the whole of J&K falls into hostile hands.  The Leaguers’ futile attempt to get merged into East Pakistan the whole of Assam despite its overwhelming Hindu majority in all districts except Sylhet may be a case worth mentioning here.  Recognition of the future need for more land of the growing population of East Bengal was the only logical rationale they had in their designs for sparsely populated Assam that then included today’s states of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.  If they could recognize the future land requirements of East Pakistan before Partition, they, it can be safely assumed, had recognized the water requirements of West Pakistan as well.  Though the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 allotted three western rivers of Indus river basin –Indus, Jhelum and Chenab- fully to Pakistan, Islamabad’s worries did not disappear.  Pakistan has been visibly sensitive to any Indian plan to harness the waters of these three rivers for even the purpose of electricity generation which will not hamper or reduce the flow of water into Pakistan in any manner.

Although Karachi was the political capital of Pakistan when it came into being, the real seat of power was the garrison town of Rawalpindi.  It was obvious that the Pakistani Army was concerned about the safety of it’s headquarter.   Lt. Gen. Akbar Khan, the man who led Pakistan’s assault on J&K on the night of October 22-23, 1947 clearly states in his book “Raiders in the Valley” that in order not to jeopardize the security of Rawalpindi it was very much necessary to push Indian frontier as far away as possible.  This way he justifies his raid across Jhelum and his military move to get J&K merged into Pakistan.

Like Bengal and Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir too had clearly distinct and contiguous Muslim and non-Muslim majority areas.  The British would certainly have divided J&K too between India and Pakistan on religious basis if it were a British province instead of being a princely state in 1947.  The first Kashmir War of 1947-48 and the cease-fire of 1 January 1949 did give Muslim Pakistan control over almost all Muslim regions of Kashmir except the Valley.  Still, Islamabad has not given up its claim for the whole state despite the non-Muslim population in Jammu region and Ladakh as Kashmir as a whole is very vital for Pakistan’s economic viability and this very fact would have prompted the successive rulers in Islamabad to work for getting J&K into their Muslim Pakistan even if this hilly state had non-Muslim majority in all its regions.