Revisiting the Kashmir Solidarity Day

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Every year, On 5 February, Kashmir Solidarity Day is observed in AJK and Pakistan to demonstrate support to Kashmiri brethren. Have the elaborate speeches, long marches, seminars and protests helped practically the stranded Kashmiris or reaped any meaningful international support for Kashmiris? Have their sufferings been alleviated, their scars healed up? Would such commemorations bring about any good for Kashmir in future too?
This article intends to raise some scathing questions to highlight some harsh historical realities. We really need to understand which errors were committed in the past at the political and strategic fronts that paved the way for the Indian occupation in Kashmir and the subsequent sufferings of the Kashmiri people.
Unfortunately, it is not really deliberated that the emergence of National Conference was the first significant stride to the Indian occupation in Kashmir. Before taking that step, Sheikh Abdullah, following the instructions of Jawaharlal Nehru, visited the erstwhile Frontier Province (KPK) and held elaborate meetings with Bacha Khan and Abdul Samad Achakzai, leaders of Jamiat Ulema –e-Islam, and the representatives of Ameer Kabul. Following it, he went to Lahore and met with MD Taseer, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Moulana Zafar Ali Khan, Hameed Nizami and other members of Lahori Press. Having won the confidence of the aforementioned leaders and media personnel, he returned to Delhi and met with Jawaharlal Nehru. After that founded National Conference, breaking Muslim Conference which was the representative of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir.
At that time, sensing the gravity of the situation, Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, the head of Muslim Conference, visited Lahore and expressed deep anger and disappointment after meeting the journalists of Lahori Press. He warned that the establishment of National Conference would relentlessly hurt the struggle for Kashmir. Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas grieved on those developments in his autobiography: Kashmakash. Such acrimonious historical facts were also documented by Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan in The Nation That Lost Its Soul.
According to Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, Quaid e Azam alerted him about the nefarious schemes of Sheikh Abdullah, The Quaid termed Muslim Conference as the forward wing of Muslim League, and Kashmir as the jugular vein of Pakistan.
Quite shockingly, Hameed Nizami taunted Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas that you people had ill-advised Quaid e Azam about Sheikh Abdullah. At which the Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas rebuffed him, asserting that they profoundly respected the Quaid, not ill suggested him.
At the strategical level, in 1947, the decision to launch around fifteen thousand tribal men to Kashmir was totally ill thought out. Appallingly, that mis(adventure) was neither communicated to Quaid e Azam nor to the defence minister, lamented Khurshid Hassan Khurshid, the private secretory to Quaid e Azam in his Memories of Jinnah . Perhaps the plan was crafted by the PM Liaqat Ali Khan, keeping the Quaid utterly in dark.
Being a constitutionalist, Quaid e Azam was keen to contest the Kashmir issue on table, believing that he would bargain with Lord Mountbatten on the state of Junagarh and Hyderabad and extract concessions Vis a Vis Kashmir. Quaid e Azam had sent KH Khurshid to Kashmir to negotiate with the Maha Raja of Kashmir, but he was arrested at the directions of Sheikh Abdullah.
Even analyzing the situation from the strategical standpoint, there was totally no need to push those totally unorganized and command- less tribesmen to Kashmir in the presence of seventy some thousands well-trained men in Poonch and around sixty one thousand well(former Indian National Army) ,mentioned by Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim in The Kashmir Saga .
Many would be shocked to know that those tribesmen burnt district Mirpur and district Muzaffarabad. They also burnt Mehrua power station, the only power station present in Kashmir at that time. In an unbelievably shocking incident, they killed a Muslim teacher, master Abdullah in a mosque, who criticized them (the tribesmen) for plundering the locals.
Following it, the tribesmen marched to Uri and burnt it as well. Quite inexcusably, they snatched the salaries of around three hundred thousand civil servants, claiming the amount as war booty. Such gory accounts have been recorded in Raiders in Kashmir by Major General Akbar Khan. It is also a sad fact that those tribesmen halted their advancement and camped approximately 22 kilometers Baramulla. At that time total force of Maha Raja was mere nine Battalion, but it was in total disarray. Though there was one Sikh Battalion stationed in Srinagar, it could not have competed with five thousand well equipped tribesmen. But the criminal delay of forty eight hours allowed India to airdrop its three Sikh Companies and fifty ton ammunition. Following, those tribesmen flew from the battleground.
In this context, we must not forget the role of six brigades, including three Sudhan Brigades, One Tribesmen Brigade(comprising four thousand tribesmen), One Regular Brigade commanded by Brig. Akbar, Bagh Brigade ( commanded by Mujahid e Awal Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan), stationed at Poonch, besieging only three Dogra Companies in Poonch Garrison. Surprisingly, those six brigades did not attack those companies for six months. But, without any achievement, those six brigades kept on receiving funds and food from Rawalpindi.
Similarly, not many mention the point that the war was not limited to Srinagar only. In fact, in the north, the war veterans Lieutenant Babar and Col Hassan Mirza, commanding Tiger Force and Ibex Force respectively, had pushed the Indians to Sonamarg. They were all set to attack Srinagar. On the other side, Col. Akmal, Col. Rehmatullah Maj. Muhammad Hussain, Capt. Haq Mirza, of Haidari Force had conquered Rajouri, Peer Panjal and advanced to Shopian. But they did not receive any financial or logistic support from Pakistan.
Further south, Brigadier Habib ur Rahman had conquered Chumb and Bhimber and Lieutenant .Muzaffar Khan (Sitra e Jurat twice) had repulsed two brigades at Naushehra Mirpur Rout and Charhoi Rout. His swift actions forced the Indians to postpone their attack on Bagh, but he did not receive any assistance from the government either. Those faithful Mujahedeen, ill-equipped and unsupported, would live on grass soup (nullah) but remained steadfast till end. All first-hand details of wars and treachery were recorded in a war diary maintained meticulously by Col. M.A. Haq Nawaz Mirza , on day to day basis. Later, those treasured details were compiled in Lantha by a young Kashmiri writer, Anwar Ayyub Raja.
At the time, when the local Mujahedeen had conquered two third of Kashmir, but Srinagar was left in the control of India, by international forces and the local collaborators.Why? Had Capt. Babar, Col. Hassan and Capt. Haq Mirza known that they had surrounded Srinagar from three sides, they could have advanced to Srinagar, without seeking anyone’s permission or consent. But lack of communication and perhaps the plan of the collaborators kept them in dark so that at the snow fall, the Mujahedeen could retreat, vacating the conquered area. Thus the hard -earned victory was gifted to Indians, regrettably, and all struggle and sacrifices of Mujahedeen ended in vain.
While condemning the Indians, the war strategists and the historians must study the Chenab Formula devised by General MZ Kiyani and Brigadier Habib- ur- Rahman to push through Chumb and advance to Banihal Pass, thereby blocking land access to Srinagar. The plan in question could have besieged the Indian army in Srinagar and blocked the future deployment of its forces in the valley. Unfortunately, the strategists and political leaders did not consider and exploit that opportunity too. It is really eye opening to recall the desperate pleas for weapons which were made by Mujahedeen. Ironically, at that time there were twenty five lacks weapons lying in Lahore fort, but not a single one for the cause of Kashmir. Later those weapons were handed over to Punjab Police.
Similarly, observing the Kashmir Solidarity Day, people must not forget that in Shimla Agreement (1972), Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto altered the status of cease fire to line of control (LOC), thereby practically dividing people of Azad Kashmir and the occupied Kashmir. Later, the infamous four point formula advanced by general Musharraf followed by Mr. Asif Ali Zardari plan to freeze Kashmir for thirty years further damped and dumped the Kashmir issue. Mr. Nawaz Sharif also chose silence on Kashmir issue and preferred trade over the tragedies of Kashmir. Shockingly, he suggested the Kashmiri leadership to seek the solution to Kashmir, staying within the ambit of the Indian constitution.
Nations always learn from history and their mistakes. The people of Kashmir must read the history and learn to stand on their own feet. It is really compulsory for our youth to read: Muahhamd k Sipahi by Maj Meer Afzal Khan. They must not forget that no nation has ever won independence through commemorating the solidarity days, making marathon marches and organising seminars in luxurious hotels. The freedom comes after sustained struggle and unprecedented sacrifices. Are the people of Kashmir prepared for that?
The writer is an academic based in Islamabad and can be approached at sliklight55@gmail.com

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