Dr Syed Nazir Gilani
The best way to help the people of Kashmir should not be a ritual and a general condemnation, but properly qualified
27 October 2022 completes 75 years of the landing of Indian Forces in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The day also completes 3 years, 2 months and 22 days of Indian action of 5 August 2019. We condemn India on both of these dates. The condemnation is the easiest of all actions. It is unhelpful and we duck the required action.
We have continued to misdirect our actions required regarding the presence of the Indian Army in a part of the State. We have failed to take the right and helpful steps. The day is observed as a black day and we leave it for a repeat in the next year. The condemnation needs to be qualified, to keep the constituency of support in India intact and retain its vestiges as much as possible.
It does not help the people of the State faced with a repressive force of nearly 900000 soldiers and a broad spread of other surveillance. People in Azad Kashmir, GB, supporters and sympathisers in Pakistan and around the world mark the day with great anguish and condemnation. Pakistan missions around the world organise special events to highlight the date and condemn India. It is neither enough nor a targeted action.
The first and foremost action on this day should be that we engage the government of Britain. A day before landing the Indian troops in Srinagar, the Prime Minister of India informed the Prime Minister of Britain that it had “received an urgent appeal for assistance from Kashmir Government”. Prime Minister of India stated “I should like to make it clear that the question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the State to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any disputed territory or State must be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people and we adhere to this view. It is quite clear, however, that no free expression of the will of people of Kashmir is possible if external aggression succeeds in imperilling the integrity of its territory”.
On 27 October 1947 Prime Minister of Britain shared the communication with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Indian assurance that “the question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the State to accede to India”, is highlighted.
On 28 October 1947 Prime Minister of India sent a telegram to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and informed him about the situation in Kashmir and sending of Indian troops. Prime Minister of India has made it clear that “They have no desire to intervene in affairs of Kashmir State after raiders have been driven away and law and order established. In regard to accession also it has been made clear that this is subject to reference to people of State and their decision. The government of India have no desire to impose any decision and will abide by people’s wishes, but those cannot be ascertained till peace and law and order prevail. Protection of Kashmir from armed raids thus becomes the first objective and in this, we trust we shall have your support”.
The government of India has subjected itself to certain qualifications and discipline to land its troops in Kashmir. The landing of troops was based on a “request” and troops had to restore peace, law and order, for the people. In addition these troops had a specified schedule of duties. These included to help the Kashmir forces to “defend the territory and to protect the lives, property and honour of Kashmiri people.”
Government of India before going to UN Security Council in January 1948, has given written assurances to Britain, Government of Kashmir and to Pakistan, that the decision of sending of Indian troops was temporary and under a schedule of duties. The State has fractured into three administrations and the purpose of sending Indian troops to Kashmir has been defeated. It is an interesting question as to which one out of the three administrations could terminate this temporary agreement with the Government of India and ask the Indian troops to leave.
Under UN template, it would be the Government at Srinagar, which could ask the Indian troops to leave the territory. The Plebiscite Administrator and Government at Srinagar have the final say in taking a decision in regard to the presence and further need of Indian troops. UN Security Council Resolution of 21 April 1948, has concluded a discipline on the behaviour, number and location of India troops in Kashmir.
Indian troops in Kashmir are subject to a schedule of duties outlined in the letter of 27 October 1947 addressed to the Maharaja of Kashmir, their temporary presence and their non-interference is assured by Government of India to Britain on 26 October and to Pakistan on 28 October 1947. These forces do not have a carte blanche in their activity and presence in Kashmir.
People of the State have suffered at the hands of Indian troops. We have lost a generation. People of Kashmir have been denied a quality of life. The best way to help the people of Kashmir should not be a ritual and a general condemnation, but the condemnation should be properly qualified so that the Indian people and civil society do not misunderstand us.
Those who look after Kashmir in Azad Kashmir and in Pakistan, have hurt the Kashmir case more than Government of India could have done. There is a huge literature on Kashmir. Part of it based on the jurisprudence of Kashmir case and a large part of it is sheer propaganda. Neutral and credible authors of “The Meadow” and “Pakistan eye of the storm” and the JKCHR documents (and other documents) released by the UN Secretary General at the UN Human Rights Council have addressed the landing of Indian troops in its right perspective.
There is an urgent need that we move from a ritual condemnation to the question whether there is any need to have and in what manner, these Indian troops in Kashmir? Just a condemnation of India is unhelpful. We are ducking the required action.