Expert Speak India Matters
Published on Aug 10, 2016
India still playing catchup with Pak's propaganda on Kashmir?

Kashmir remains a hot button, notwithstanding the acts of commission and omission on both sides of the divide. It has permeated our consciousness, embedded deep in our memory recesses and yet the facts are unalterable despite Pakistan's best attempts to twist them. Of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's great speeches, there is one standout display of demagoguery which bears repetition as it pertains to Kashmir. On March 29, 1956, speaking in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Nehru slammed the door shut on all the detractors of his Kashmir policy. For Nehru, Kashmir was a shop window for his brand of secularism and mainstreaming a Kashmiri nationalist leader like Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah was part of his vision for a new unified India, one that included the Provinces and by virtue of the Treaties of Paramountcy with the British Empire, their extension — the Princelings who harboured all sorts of notions, including independence. Geopolitical and strategic importance of Jammu & Kashmir, which as an independent Princely State was bigger than France at that point in time, was not lost on anyone.

Nehru as usual spoke with great elan when he said in the Lok Sabha — "legally and constitutionally, Kashmir acceded to India. This is an undoubted fact. You may criticise the speed, with which this was done, the manner of it, but the fact is legally and constitutionally, the state of J&K acceded to India. Therefore, it became the duty of the Indian Union to defend and protect Kashmir from aggression and drive out the invaders. I would go a step further and say that even if Kashmir had not acceded to India, even then it would be our duty to defend it."

And then in typical Nehruvian style, showing his felicity with words, Nehru went on to lucidly disseminate why — "I am trying to develop a constitutional argument in stating the point. It is because of India being a continuing entity. That is we were India, and we are India and a part of it went out, opted out, let us say and became Pakistan. We allowed it to opt out. Now, whatever did not opt out remained with India till such time as something was done, some decision was taken. That is, our responsibilities continued in regard to every part of what was India until that part deliberately and positively became, not India. I am even taking into consideration that no final decision had been taken about Kashmir's accession to India, but the fact that it was not in Pakistan itself cast a duty upon us to protect it against any attack. But, however, this point does not arise because in effect it did acceded to India."

Then Nehru showed his pacifist face, one which had staked his entire political career on idealism. He had taken on even Mahatma Gandhi on the issue of strong Congress intervention in Princely States which were equally a part of India just as the Provinces were. Gandhi resisted for long for his ideological inclination towards the Princes was driven by the concept of trusteeship, as also the fact that his own father Koba Gandhi was earlier Dewan to the repressive Rajkot Thakore. Nehru was clear in his mind that 100 million Indian inhabitants of 565 odd States deserved independence and freedom from the British Raj, just as those residing in the provinces did. Freedom would come to all and mean the same to all Indians on the midnight of August 15, 1947. Many States resisted — J&K, Hyderabad et al, but eventually they all came around.

Anyway, back to Nehru's speech in parliament and his pacifist nature thrown into stark relief again. "When the first invasion took place in Kashmir and we sent our soldiers, I was very greatly worried. All our upbringing had been against war and for peace and our plunging in her and taking these risks of war developing upset me very much. And naturally I went to Gandhiji to seek his advice. I did not wish to drag him into this picture, but I could not help doing it as long as he was here. And his advice was that in the circumstances, it was the duty of India to go to the rescue of Kashmir with arms and with Armed Forces."

Peacenik Gandhiji gave Nehru the advice to defend Kashmir may not be something that the present generation will relate to, but this is a reality. Furthermore, Nehru in the same speech revealed that "subsequently when we had decided or were considering the question of our going to the UN, I remember taking to him a draft which we had prepared of the memorandum for the UN and showing it to him and consulting him about the phraseology of it and I think he made some suggestion in regard to it which we tried to embody."

Now let us examine the circumstances behind the tribal invasion and India defending itself. Top secret and confidential documents hitherto unpublished available with this writer show that Director of Intelligence Bureau, Pakistan, C. Ahmed, in an eyes only report on April 30, 1948 details a dangerous situation brewing on the North West Frontier and in contiguous areas as a result of the quadrangular alliance of forces inimical to Pakistan. He wrote, "These forces consist of Afghanistan, Faqir of Ipi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and the Indian Union. The centre of Afghan as well as Indian intrigues as also one of the principal instruments for the execution of these intrigues is the Faqir of Ipi. Emboldened by the withdrawal of troops from Waziristan, Ipi now seems determined to to make a bid for establishing control over it and as a first step, to occupy the Scout Posts vacated by the Pakistan Armed Forces in that area. In this design, he is actively being encouraged both by Afghanistan and India."

Such was the fear psychosis about big brother India that Pakistan's entire being was predicated not on theology but visceral hatred for India. Its template built rapidly with the help of large dollops of chicanery and subterfuge to decapitate Kashmir and India. Countering this, another top secret IB report, this time from the Indian side dated April 1, 1949 and addressed to Vishnu Sahay, then Secretary, Kashmir Affairs, (only available with this writer) offered a sneak peek of Pakistan's strategy, which incidentally has not changed over time by stating, "The Pakistan Government is clear that their Army should remain in all but name the Pakistan Army officered, manned, equipped and controlled as a regular unit of the Pakistan Army. Further, the administration in Azad Kashmir should be under the strict control of the Pakistan government and all the offices in the administration must be held by regular members of the Pakistan services. The UNO scheme according to them must be regarded as a Truce which has given them the opportunity to mobilise the full war potential of Pakistan for a final battle."

Contrast this with the impressions of British pacifists, Horace Alexander and Leslie Cross, who met Government of India officials in Delhi after a visit to Pakistan and raider-held areas in Kashmir sometime in September 1949. Both were clear in their mind that the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) had unfortunately been behaving differently with India and Pakistan by giving different impressions and different undertakings to the two Governments. The duo specifically mentioned Gilgit, the mountainous regions around it and the Azad Forces presence there. The Commission, they said, had given Pakistan to understand that on the conclusion of the Truce agreement, Gilgit and the Northern Areas would continue to be governed by the authorities which controlled them then and which Pakistan had annexed with typical cunning and duplicity. Moreover, UNCIP had also assured Pakistan that the areas controlled by Pakistan in Kashmir would be governed by the Azad Forces after the conclusion of the Truce Agreement. The local authorities would in effect mean Azad people.

And that is exactly how things panned out, the British pacifists nailing it right there and then. All this went against India's basic premise that Pakistan sponsored raiders had taken over the sovereign territory of the state of J&K as it stood on the ground on October 26, 1947. Significantly, Alexander and Cross were told by Pakistan and Azad authorities that the whole state would be divided into, say a 100 zones to start with, each zone under the control of a United Nations officer. This officer would conduct the Plebiscite and would be in charge of other affairs of the area. They added that he would be assisted by a representative each of the Kashmir National Conference and the J&K Muslim Conference.

There was obviously a calibrated plan which was being cooked up by Pakistan's dirty tricks department and UNCIP officials appeared to be a party to this. Once this was brought to the notice of Pandit Nehru and his A team on Kashmir — N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, Girja Shankar Bajpai and Vishnu Sahay — a corrective plan to neutralise these moves was put in place on the diplomatic front by the Government of India.

Look at the Pakistan propaganda pitch to the UNCIP at that time. It is cold blooded and steeped in deceit and lies where outsiders are shown as insiders, something that continues till this day — "Indian troops were spread over the whole state and the activities of the local patriots to rid their country of this foreign domination was characterised as a raid by outsiders and various steps were taken to put down the local people and prevent them from joining their brethren in arms. Sheikh Abdullah came handy to them and he in turn realised that the time for fulfillment of his dream to seize power from unwilling hands had arrived. He was installed as the head of the administration under the Govt of India's inspiration and though he claimed to be the people's representative, he set up a regime which excelled in all method barbarism and ruthlessness. On the pretext of the existence of an emergency, he put down with a heavy hand all opposition, threw a large number of people into jail."

Sadly, we seem to be playing catchup with Pakistan's propaganda and disinformation war since then. Add the asymmetrical warfare of death by a thousand cuts to this, and it leaves an India following rule of law as the vanquished, but morally the victor of this 69-year-old festering sore.

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