Of 1947 Incursion, Invasion & intervention!
What happened, how and why? Questions that demand an answer
FEEDBACK BY DR.JAVID IQBAL
Kashmir accession by Munshi Ghulam Hassan’ merits a profound debate. His note ‘From the series of historic events, it is evident that tribal attack was launched only when Pakistan was satisfied that accession to India would be a fait-accompli. It was the time they knew they will have no opportunity to claim it later’ needs to be looked into in some detail. What he calls tribal attack has been variedly defined, the popular term being ‘Qabali Raid’. Qabaili [tribal] belongs to a ‘Qabila [tribe]’ of which ‘Qabail [tribes]’ is the pleural. Raid [forced entry, a robbery, a break in] is by its very meaning a short term measure, with the limited purpose of material gain. It has negativity written all over it. Was it merely a raid or a wider incursion [sortie, storming, spread] or Pakistani invasion [attack, assault] tribals being the proxy for regular troops, which India claims led to its intervention [interference, involvement, intercession] post 26th accession. Intervention is undertaken as a remedial measure, example-surgical intervention, in conditions, which cannot be treated otherwise- hence a highly positive measure. Does it hold water on a deeper scrutiny?
J&K had its own ‘Qabail [tribals]’-bona fide residents of J&K State- Sudhans’ Abbasis’ Rajputs’ Danials’ Durranis’ and Afghanis’ in Poonch. Calcutta Statesman’s Richard Symonds writing in his despatch of 4th February 1948 notes that ex-servicemen returning to Poonch found ‘there was tax on every hearth and every window. Every cow, buffalo and sheep was taxed and even every wife. Finally zaildari tax was introduced to pay for the cost of taxation’ [Allister Lamb’s ‘Birth of a Tragedy’ Kashmir 1947-page 61]. Twenty thousand Poonchis’ in First Word War multiplied thrice to around sixty thousand in Second. The resistance started with ‘no tax campaign’ soon turning into an armed campaign. It started in Bagh district of Poonch, in the village of Neela Bhat near Dheer Kot, a public meeting was fired upon on 25th August by state forces recounts Qudratulah Shohab [Jammu born ICS officer First Chief Secretary of Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK)] in his voluminous Urdu treatise [Shohab Nama page 377]. Allistar Lamb in [Birth of a Tragedy’ Kashmir 1947-page 62] puts the date as 26th August, he doesn’t specify the place, simply mentions a place near township of Bagh. While as Lamb says, Poonch rebels fired back in the meeting itself, Shohab says Sardar Qayoom, who prides in calling himself ‘Mujahid-i-Awal’ organized a guerrilla force and attacked state forces-army and police two days later in Dheer Kot camp and demolished it. Hari Singh took the resistance head on, as guerrilla groups multiplied.
Poonch tribals had sister tribes in Hazara district on NWFP providing succour and support. ‘On 12th September’ writes Owen Bennet Jones [Pakistan-Eye of Storm-pub: Yale university press-2002, Penguin books-2005, page: 66] Pakistan’s Premier Liaquat Ali Khan had become involved in drawing up plans to help the rebels’. Jones [for long BBC’s point man in Pakistan] states emphatically that Pakistan ‘formulated a policy to fight for Kashmir by proxy’ [page 66]. He thus finds Pakistan’s policy at variance with India, which stresses Jones on the same page ‘showed no such inhibition regarding difficult Princely States’. The oblique reference seems to be pointed to police action in Hyderabad.
As J&K tribals were joined by tribes in Hazara District and tribes on the other bank of Jhelum, some bearing the same tribal name, though not bona fide residents of J&K State and as the tribes’ further away to west joined the campaign, what was internal as borne by historical facts became interno-external, as an internal disorder manifesting externally could be defined. Qayoom Khan-NWFP Chief Minister with a Kashmiri ancestry provided help, though on a personal level. Liaquat down there seemed to be reluctance to eschew official commitment-ambivalences galore!
On ‘accession to India being a fait-accompli’ pre 27th October intervention, India had the ground situation sewed up; the deft moves had a telling effect and could be counted as:
Planting Lt. Col Kashmir Sigh Katoch [S/o Thakur Janak Singh-interim Kashmir premier as adviser [based on Kashmir Durbar request]…13th September
Arranging for the provision of one civilian aircraft [from Dalmia Jain Airways, presumably a DC 3] to run a special service between Delhi and Srinagar…28th. September
Supplying wireless equipment to assist all-weather operations at Srinagar airport, to which supply flights could now begin to take in loads of arms and ammunition to J&K state forces from Indian stocks (which so soon after Second World War were indeed massive)…Ist. October
Preparations afoot for more effective telegraphic communication between India and Jammu and Srinagar
Improvement of the road from Indian Punjab border near Madhopur to Jammu by Indian Army engineers and a pontoon bridge over Ravi leading to Kathua
Mid October-sending actual troops as well as arms and equipment from Patiala state army [published Patiala sources suggest the intervention took place at a personal request from Nehru to Maharaja Yadavindra Singh]
These moves are noted in Alistair Lamb’s [Birth of a tragedy-Kashmir 1947-pub: Roxford Books-p: 71] I have categorized to simplify.
Mid October saw Colonel Shah, a Pakistan foreign office official trying to straighten out the strains in Pak/Kashmir relations. Victoria Schofield in [Kashmir in Conflict-India, Pakistan and Unfinished Conflict, I.B. Tauris-2000-page: 46] notes that Shah urged accession to Pakistan. He found deaf and dumb audience. ‘It was too little, too late and Shah could not hope to reverse in a few days all the work that had been put by the Congress leaders over several months and years’ notes Owen Bennet Jones in his [Pakistan-Eye of the Storm-page:67].
‘Tribal attack’ nuances! “Don’t tell me anything about it, my conscience must be clear” said Governor General of Pakistan-Muhammad Ali Jinnah to his provincial Governor of NWFP-Cunningham, when he first heard from him of the tribesmen’s move [Owen Bennet Jones-Pakistan, Eye of a storm-Yale University 2002/Penguin 2005-Page 67/Victoria Schofield-Kashmir in Conflict-Page: 51] Owen Bennet Jones concedes Jinnah, the constitutionalist could well have made such a statement, however censors him by noting-‘such ambivalent leadership could hardly secure Kashmir.’ Ambivalence could better be attributed to Liaquat, who had assigned Col. Akbar Khan the task to remain in contact with tribals. Liaquat by this time had started drifting away from sick Jinnah, public show of solidarity withstanding. The ambivalence started with Major Khurshid Anwar leading the Domel crossing in northern sector on 22nd October, as he was injured sometime after Indian intervention-Colonel Akbar Khan took over. On the southern front in Poonch and beyond-deeper South in Mirpur/Rawalakot, Major Zaman Kiani was operating. Anwar and Zamani were not officers of regular Pakistan army and there was hardly any coordination worth the name. An armed confrontation on such a wide front would normally involve a corps [commanded by three star Lt. General] formed of several divisions or at least a division [commanded by a two star Major General]. Instead it was a confrontation involving majors and colonels; it was bound to meet the fate, which it did. As colonel Akbar Khan took over, some semblance of holding on to defence lines [lines from where the territory in possession in the rear could be defended] was worked out. Earlier hit and run apart from claiming the life of Col Dewan Rai near Baramulla and Major Somnath in Budgam made little strategic gains in the main valley. None could been expected, given the tribals confronting trained Indian formations with rich recent experience of fighting in Second World War, an experience that Pakistani army officers and men shared. As Mohammad Ali Jinnah ordered the deputising [for General (Sir) Messervy] CNC-General Sir Douglas Gracy to move in, he pleaded his inability, based on orders of Delhi based Supreme Commander of Indo/Pak Armed Forces-Field Marshall [Sir] Auchinleck.
Owen Bennet Jones is much closer to reality than other authorities. In [Pakistan-Eye of the Storm-page: 70/71] he notes Jinnah’s ‘monumental achievement’ Pakistan was based on ‘refusal to compromise and brilliant ability to grasp’ then he notes ‘his administration overwhelmed by arrival of refugees, his sickness and getting hampered by British military commanders’ this he calls the case made out by Jinnah apologists, and concedes these factors did play a part, but concludes by putting in ‘In terms of hard nosed real-politik, the Indian leaders in Delhi were leagues ahead’. Legalities of Indian or Pakistani case withstanding, Jone’s take seems to be much nearer to truth than weighty details, one way or the other
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
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Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Feb 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Feb 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 3 Feb 2011 00:00:00 IST
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