I remember a very interesting conversation with my grandfather about Kashmir relating with the remarkable speech made by K Krishna Menon at the United Nations in January 1957. Menon was at that time commanding the Indian delegation to the United Nations.
Menon in a marathon 8-hour address to the world body had left Pakistan stumped and red faced as he presented the Indian defence point by point, tearing into the lies that the neighbour had presented to the UN. On the way he created a Guinness Book of World Record for making the longest speech at the world body, and possibly in the history of mankind.
It is a sad fact that while all the assertions that he made 60 years back are as valid today as they were then, Pakistan continues to turn a blind eye to them; using terror, felony and mendacious means to keep the Kashmir burner alive.
The Uri attack on September 18 this year is one such in a chain of nefarious ventures to destabilize the region and perpetuate violence and hate.
Interestingly, the attack which was the deadliest on Indian Army in two decades coincided closely with the day when Pakistan first unveiled its policy of aggression in the region. Our newly minted neighbour had first set off invaders into Kashmir on September 17, 1947 barely a month after India gained Independence from British colonial rule and the Partition.
In this context, K Krishna Menon’s speech 60 years back makes for an interesting case study giving an overview of Pakistan’s stand through history and its duplicity in actions. And India’s solid and logical counterpoint.
India’s counterpoint 1: Pakistan had designs on Kashmir from the start and took up the policy of aggression even before it fully settled down as an independent country. It deliberately created a problem so as to expand its territory.
Krishna Menon presented the true picture: “On 4 September (1947), on the basis of a telegraphic report submitted by its Chief of Staff, Major-General Scott, the Kashmir Government protested by telegram to the West Punjab Government against armed Muslims from Rawalpindi district infiltrating into the State… On 17 September – we are now only one month from Independence – a band of 400 armed raiders, twelve miles south-east of Ranbirsinghpura drove away herds of cattle belonging to State nationals. On 18 September, railway service between Sialkot and Jammu was suspended by Pakistan authorities without any reason and in contravention of the standstill agreement. Armed gangs entered Kashmir in Palandri (Poonch), across the State border. On 28 September hundreds of armed men with service rifles, automatics and spears attacked a Kashmir State patrol near Chak Harka. On 30 September hundreds of armed Pathans entered Dhirkot Than inside the State territory. On 3 October, the Jammu and Kashmir Government protested telegraphically to Pakistan against hundreds of armed people from Murree Hills in Pakistan operating in Poonch – part of which is now occupied by Pakistan..That is the second violation (by Pakistan) of the standstill agreement.
On 4 October armed men renewed their activities in the Chirala area and near the Jhelum river and fighting between the raiders and the State forces began. Now we have reached a state of war. On 10 October two sections of the Pakistan Army followed by an armed gang attacked Pansar village in Jammu. I submit with great respect and a sense of responsibility that what I have now read out is one of the key points in the consideration of the whole of this question – that is to say, Pakistan informed us that they were not involved in this matter.”
Pakistan standpoint 2: Pakistan has taken up the Kashmir issue on humanitarian grounds and because of a sense of brotherhood. It has deep sympathies with the people of J&K and it is extending moral support against Indian suppression.
Indian counterpoint 2: Pakistan was the first one to adopt a policy of violence and unleashed unimaginable brutalities against the people of J&K through the invasion. India has made mistakes, but these came only later. It has tried to bring democracy and semblance of peace to the Valley, but its efforts have been thwarted by militants, sponsored from across the border.
Menon argues about how it all started and turns to smithereens Pakistan’s claim of interference on humane grounds: “The political importance is that if the Kashmir territory were aligned with Pakistan by kinship, by links of blood, race or religion, that was a strange way of showing that friendship – by invading its country; and the rapine and plunder of the raiding force continued up to Baramula, which is only a few miles from Srinagar. The town was sacked and burned.”
Clearly, since the beginning Pakistan has been a sponsor of terror. Just like it has denied anything to do with terrorists’ infiltrating now, it had first denied and then taken a U-turn on Pakistani Army regulars being dressed as marauders.
Menon adds: “The Security Council resolution had asked for information with regard to any material change in the situation. I read again from the Commission’s report: ‘At the 19th meeting on 20 July, a confidential cable was drafted and dispatched informing the Security Council of the presence of Pakistan troops in Kashmir. The Commission adopted a resolution requesting the Secretary-General of the United Nations to appoint a military adviser.’ It was the presence of these troops – which had been denied all along, but was admitted by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan when the Commission arrived in Karachi – that created a new state of affairs.”
Pakistan standpoint 3: India arm-twisted the king of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh to sign the accession document in favour of India. This accession was not by the will of the king or the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Indian counterpoint 3: Kashmir has historically been a part of India. It did not practice orthodox Islam, followers of which asked for partition in the first place. And it was the king of Kashmir who first approached India with a request for help and an offer to join the India union.
Menon elaborates: “On 22 October, the Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister telegraphed the Prime Minister of the North-West Frontier Province – that is, a province of Pakistan – and the Deputy Commissioner of Rawalpindi, both in west Pakistan, about people armed with modern weapons infiltrating from Hazara and Rawalpindi districts in west Pakistan into the State and asked them to stop the infiltration. The invaders continued their progress along the Jhelum Valley road towards Srinagar. (Srinagar is the summer capital of Kashmir, founded about 2,300 years ago by the great Emperor Asoka.)
Their triumphant march was temporarily stemmed at Uri, a town fifty miles from Srinagar, by the demolition of a bridge and the gallant resistance of about 150 men under the command of a Brigadier of the Kashmir Army who was killed fighting a memorable last-ditch battle. The raiders managed to construct a diversion about a mile long, requiring considerable engineering skill, since, according to Dawn of Karachi of 7 December 1947, it was completed in two days – that is to say, in this invasion the Pakistan sappers or engineer regiments – their REME – must have participated. It was not possible for them to do otherwise. A fact will be noticed here to which I will refer later. These men were resisted only by the national militia, by the local populations. They were not welcome as liberators. They fought a last–ditch battle; they resisted these people.”
“On 24 October the Maharaja, who is the head of the State, appealed to India for military help…He is the head of the State and, according to the Constitution, the only person competent to sign an accession; nobody else can do it. May I halt here for a moment. Until now no one from India, neither Army, nor Ministers, nor anyone, has gone into Kashmir to persuade the Maharaja. No police have been sent. We did not put any pressure on him; if I may interpolate, in a previous period Lord Mountbatten, on behalf of the Government of India, told the Maharaja of Kashmir, ‘You will accede to Pakistan if you wish and we will not take it as an unfriendly act’ because the Government of India at that time was concerned about not having these States suspended in a vacuum.
On 26 October 1947 the Maharaja asked for protection – I shall deal with that letter when we come to the question of accession – and he offered accession to India.”
Pakistan Standpoint 4: Communal composition of Jammu and Kashmir shows that Muslims are in majority. And going by the two-nation theory, the state should have acceded to Pakistan. The Islamic Republic initially even argued that Lord Mountbatten had referred to this communal composition and advised that it should be taken into cognisance in context to Kashmir.
Indian Counterpoint 4: The state of Jammu and Kashmir was to accede to India or Pakistan depending on the choice of the ruling monarch and through the will of the people and not by the communal composition alone.
Moreover, Pakistan’s argument of the British Viceroy’s advice on the matter does not hold, as Mountbatten, though overseeing the Partition, had never made such a statement. This was one of Pakistan’s first white lies!
Krishna Menon had argued: “There is a statement of what Lord Mountbatten actually did say which appears in Mr Khan Noon’s statement, and we want to deal with that. It says: ‘The Viceroy and Governor-General, Lord Mountbatten, who represented the suzerain – the King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India – however, advised the Princes of India on 25 July 1947 that in deciding the question of accession, they must pay due regard to the communal composition, the wishes of their peoples and the geographical location of their States.’ I am not willing to rely on my memory in regard to this carefully considered document. We have done all the research we can; we are familiar with the subject. There is no such statement of that character. What is more, the statement does not refer to communal representation.”
Pakistan Standpoint 5: Addressing the United Nations this year, Nawaz Sharif once again raked up the issue of right to self-determination for Kashmiri people and renewed the demand for a plebiscite.
Indian Counterpoint 5: The fact of the matter is that the UN Commission in 1948 had adopted a three-point resolution, amending the earlier UN Security Council Resolution 47. It had dealt with and called for a complete ceasefire, a truce agreement and an ascertainment of the will of the people of the state. The word plebiscite was not used at all. And the will of the people was related with the entire Jammu and Kashmir region, including the part held by Pakistan.
Krishna Menon had questioned: “Why is that we have never heard voices in connection with the freedom of people under the suppression and tyranny of Pakistani authorities on the other side of the cease-fire line? Why is it that we have not heard here that in ten years these people have not seen a ballot paper? With what voice can either the Security Council or anyone coming before it demand a plebiscite for a people on our side who exercise franchise, who have freedom of speech, who function under a hundred local bodies?”
Admittedly, Kashmir has become a far too complex an issue today. Even more than it was in 1947.
In days to come, unfortunately, one see very little changing. The belligerent neighbour that is Pakistan will continue to use Kashmir as a knife to cut India, Kashmir will continue to burn and we will go on defending what we consider a legitimate stand point on the issue.
Unfortunately, our grandchildren may quote the same speech, but there would have been little that would have changed at ground level.