People in Kashmir, particularly the National Conference rank-and-file, believe that Muhammad Ali Jinnah had ignored Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in the run-up to the subcontinent's independence and partition. But this is not true. A number of emissaries were sent to persuade Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah to join Pakistan but his efforts bore no fruit.
He (Quaid-e-Azam) sent Shaukat Hayat Khan to Kashmir a month ahead of the birth of Pakistan, a visit confirmed by a long letter Khan wrote to the Quaid-e-Azam from Srinagar on July 11, 1947 (published in the Frontline and the Hindu in 2007):
"I went underground to meet Ghulam Mohiuddin, their (the National Conference's) underground leader. He has achieved considerable amount of popularity…. He is not at all averse to Pakistan, but says he is handicapped by our silence. If, he says, a little sympathy was shown to them, they would see that (the) Pakistan issue is not decided upon adversely. They feel that the interests of thirty lakh of your subjects were being sacrificed at the altar of Hyderabad and Bhopal.
Though they understood that your moves have (a) greater strategy in view on account of various repressions, they were impatient of (the) delay and may be reluctant to make greater sacrifices required of them. It was suggested that even a little bit of sympathy from us, in the form of a statement for (the) release of Abbas (and) Shaukat of the Muslim Conference, and Sheikh Abdullah of the National Conference, in addition to a recommendation for the grant of basic civil rights to the people would give an excuse for them to support Pakistan openly.
They discounted the news of Abdullah's assurance to the Maharaja and said that he was in favour of a referendum. My impression was that this party is still (the) most powerful and had the support of the intelligentsia. They had (the) advantage of having a good many honest workers. I did not think that they were in the pay of the Congress…. They are curiously torn between two loyalties, one to Pakistan and the other to Abdullah. They are indeed bewildered. They pray for Pakistan and for the release of Abdullah in almost the same breath. If Abdullah fights against Pakistan, it would be a very hard test for these poor people and God knows what the result is going to be?"
When Muhammad Ali Jinnah's emissary, Shaukat Hayat Khan, met Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, who had then assumed office as the state's emergency administrator, he asked him why he had opted for India against the wishes of the people.
Abdullah responded angrily.
"Who are you to question my decision?" he said. "I want to give an independent empire to Kashmiris. Go away or I (will) get you arrested."
Khan had to go into hiding. The chilly weather told adversely upon his health, and he contracted pneumonia. But the Quaid-e-Azam's emissary escaped from Kashmir with the help of Dr. Jagat Mohini, who had been a neighbour of his father, Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan, in Lahore.
Married to Dr. Omkar Nath, a widower running a hospital named after Ratan Rani, his late wife, the lady doctor recounted the story to the author during an interview in December 2007:
"In January 1948, a man came to me saying that a patient needed my consultation. I was reluctant at first, but then he disclosed the patient's name."
`He is the son of Sir Sikander Hayat Khan. He is hiding in a houseboat in the Nigeen Lake.'
"I was moved, and decided to accompany the man. But my husband warned me against the adventure. So I took his associate, Comrade Noor Muhammad, a member of the Radical Democrats, along.
"Fortunately, penicillin had been invented around the same time. Nehru had gifted a pack of injections to Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah who gave it to Dr Peshin. He would sell them at Rs 100 per vial. We got some for Khan, and he recovered. Then I arranged an ambulance and took him
to Uri. He crossed over safely."
Sends another Emissary:
Biographical accounts also suggest that the Quaid-e-Azam may not have given up efforts to bring the Sher-e-Kashmir round to his point of view. Even after Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah's haughty treatment of Shaukat Hayat Khan, Jinnah is said to have sent another emissary to Srinagar in the post-partition era. KH Khurshid, also known as Khurshid Hassan, who as a young, educated Kashmiri had made an impression on the Quaid during one of his early visits to the Valley and gone on to become his private secretary and win his confidence, was dispatched to Srinagar to meet Abdullah. But he was arrested.
The news upset Jinnah so much that he wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India: "My work is suffering greatly and I want Khurshid back." (My Leader by Jinnah's biographer, NA Husain).
Khurshid was released after 13 months in exchange of a soldier, Ghansara Singh. But by then the Quaid-e-Azam had passed away.