The other side

The book has a wealth of new information about the Pakistan strategy even before the accession of J&K to India
"The state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir gets highlighted from time to time in the international media. However, what is happening in the portion of Jammu and Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan hardly gets any mention."
"The state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir gets highlighted from time to time in the international media. However, what is happening in the portion of Jammu and Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan hardly gets any mention."Special arrangement


The book is written by an accomplished diplomat Dinkar P Srivastava on the history and current state of the people of the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) which have generally eluded attention of the writers.

It is largely based on Pakistani sources and the author has attempted to look at the issue in terms of Pakistan’s position and aspirations of the people of the PoK and the GB which makes it an unconventional work. The book has a wealth of new information about the Pakistan strategy even before the accession of J&K to India.

The author has sought Pakistani writings on the subject which include the writings of two prominent actors: Major General Akbar Khan, who as Lieutenant Colonel led the ‘tribal invasion’ in 1947, and Justice M.Y. Saraf, who was a Muslim Conference activist. The author has used Urdu sources too: for instance, Qudrat Ullah Shahab of the Indian Civil Service (ICS), who wrote on the formative years of Pakistan in his book Shahabnama.

The author has described the details in which the PoK and the GB have been reduced to being Pakistani colonies with their people deprived of their fundamental human rights and being forced to live under the jackboot of the Pakistani state.

The state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir gets highlighted from time to time in the international media. However, what is happening in the portion of Jammu and Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan hardly gets any mention.

It has tried to explain developments in PoK and GB against the background of developments in Pakistan. “The areas are more tightly controlled than Pakistan’s provinces, as the chapters on ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act, 1974’ and the Gilgit-Baltistan Orders of 2009 and 2018 show. The former was run on the basis of executive fiats by Pakistan till 1974; only in 1975 did PoK get an elected assembly. Gilgit-Baltistan got an elected assembly and government only in 2009,” he writes.

Pakistan acquired PoK by committing aggression and the GB by manipulation in tandem with the British Indian government. The author has given a lucid account of all this. Often, the story of the GB is ignored or rendered inaccurately. One of the merits of this book is that little-known facts have been brought to light.

The book has exposed how Pakistan always took decisions on Kashmir without consulting its people. “The Kashmiris were absent not only in the higher echelons of decision-making in Pakistan, but even within the Muslim Conference leadership…. Most of the Muslim Conference leaders were from Jammu, with little or no following in Kashmir,” he writes.

The book opens with a chapter on Invasion, where the author has quoted from Maj General Akbar Khan’s ‘The Raider in Kashmir’ to show that the decision was taken in meetings chaired by Pakistan Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. He has also cited Yusuf Sarraf, who was a Muslim Conference activist and a close associate of Choudhary Ghulam Abbas. Saraf writes that no Kashmiri leader was involved in the decision-making at higher levels even though they had by then crossed over to Pakistan. The book comprehensively debunks Pakistan’s contention that what transpired in Kashmir in 1947 was an indigenous uprising and conclusively proves that it was in fact a tribal invasion planned and supported with men and materials by Pakistan and later led by Col Akbar Khan. This exposes the myth that this was an indigenous uprising.

The author tells us about the little-known Karachi Agreement of April 1949 that made the so-called Azad Kashmir government an instrument at the disposal of Pakistan. It was an agreement secretly concluded between Pakistan on the one hand and the Muslim Conference and the president of the PoK government on the other.

The commonly used, but much misunderstood concepts like self-determination, wishes of the people and plebiscite were used by Pakistan to suit its convenience without commitment to any of these. In the third chapter the author describes how the issue of J&K was dealt with at the U.N. with irrefutable logic to demolish Pakistan’s case. A plebiscite as proposed by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was accepted by Pakistan in December 1948. If Pakistan were sure of winning the plebiscite, it could have withdrawn its forces and insisted on holding the plebiscite. The author states: “It did not want to relinquish the territory it had gained for the uncertain outcome of the plebiscite.”

The seventh chapter is about the Simla Agreement of 1972 and how Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then Pakistan Prime Minister, tightened Islamabad’s grip on PoK. “Apart from the commitment to resolve issues bilaterally and respect the LoC, there is the third aspect of the Simla agreement, which neither mentions neither previous UNSC resolutions nor the ‘right to self-determination of Kashmiri people’,” he writes.

The book has a splendid chapter titled “Wishes of the People” wherein it traces the evolution of the concept of self determination and examines the extent of its applicability to Jammu and Kashmir. “The debate on the Kashmir issue in the UNSC coincided with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This did not include the right of self-determination. It has a very faint echo in the UN Charter under which this right extended to nations not sub national groups or parts of territories,” he writes.

The book also deals with three telling judicial interventions relating to PoK and Azad Kashmir which in a nutshell are testimony to the skullduggery perpetrated there by Pakistan. The first case was moved inter alia by the Muslim Conference and the PoK government against the Pakistan Government calling for the restoration of the Northern Areas to PoK. The PoK High Court ruled in favour of the Plaintiffs in 1993 and called on Pakistan to restore the Northern Areas to PoK as its separation thereof was illegal.

The last chapter, titled ‘Ideology, Strategy, and Future of PoK’, starts with a quotation from Gibran Peshimam, a Pakistani journalist, on the pathetic condition of the people there: “It is a land and a people with a past, and perhaps a future—but with no present.” The Constitution is “interim”, though with 13 amendments since 1973. The people have no representation in Pakistan’s National Assembly.

“A whole generation has passed in 73-years since Partition. PoK continues to remain under an Interim Constitution despite thirteen amendments since 1973. The word ‘interim’ is a reference to the UN-mandated plebiscite to decide the final settlement on the Kashmir issue in Pakistan’s narrative. But there is nothing in the UN resolutions to prevent Pakistan from giving the people of PoK and G-B a fair deal in the meantime,” the author writes.

The book has also graphical details as to how Pakistan has exploited the G-B and the PoK and milked the natural resources of the region for its own benefit. As a case in point specific mention is made of the Mangla Dam in PoK which generates more than 1000 MW of power and irrigates 3 million acres. The prime beneficiary of this has been Pakistani province of Punjab and the main sufferer in terms of displacement of population has been PoK.

The book written by the author, who has served in Pakistan and dealt with J&K affairs in the Ministry of External Affairs for eight years, is bound to generate interest to the general public as well as to scholars on both sides of the border. The facts are absorbing and revelatory enough to read it with sustained interest and to treasure it as a valuable historical document. The book could have included a few maps, photographs, and a chronology which can be considered for future editions.

The book was released by J&K Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha in March this year and he appreciated the author for unmasking Pakistan’s conspiracy and atrocities on the people of PoK over the past seven decades, and creating a better understanding of Pakistan’s motivations for its policies in the region.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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