By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
I have been writing on Kashmir for many years now—from 1968 onwards. From the very outset, I have been of the firm view that unrealistic politics have devastated Kashmir, and that now, through practical and realistic politics, a progressive Kashmir can come into being.
The Kashmiri Muslims seem to have become upset with just about everyone. They are living in an atmosphere of mistrust. It is, however, possible, for the Kashmiris to start a new life at any moment if they want. But for this, there are two necessary conditions. Firstly, the Kashmiris must admit that they themselves are responsible for the unpleasant situation they find themselves in today. As long as they continue to blame others for this situation, it will not be possible for them to start a new life.
The second indispensible condition is that the Kashmiris must step out of their imaginary world and start living in the real world. In other words, they must come out of the wishful thinking that their incapable leaders have been instigating. Adopting methods that are in harmony with present-day conditions, they should make plans for their progress.
Conditions have decreed that the Kashmiri Muslims must willingly, and not out of compulsion, take the bold step of accepting that Fate has ordained them to be a part of India and that now they have no option but to gladly accept this decision. Furthermore, they must accept that there is nothing at all wrong in this, and that from every angle it is definitely good for them. India is a big country. It enjoys freedom and democracy. It is home to almost 200 million of their Muslim co-religionists. Most of the bigger Islamic institutions in the Indian Subcontinent are located in India. All across India are scattered the memories of a thousand and more years of Muslim presence in the region, which continue to provide a sense of determination to the country’s Muslims. Above all, India provides enormous opportunities for dawah. A hadith report (contained in the collections by Imam al-Nasai and Imam Ahmad) provides the good news of salvation in the Hereafter for this task of dawah.
Once, I was in Karachi for a few days. There, I met a Muslim industrialist. He told me that Muslims in India were in a better position than Pakistanis. When I asked him why, he answered, ‘Pakistan is a small country. If we manufacture something here, we have a very small potential market for it. In contrast, India is a vast country. If you produce something there, you have a huge market you can sell it to.’
What this Pakistani industrialist said to me has become a fact of life. In the 21st century, the Muslims of India have emerged as the most progressive Muslim community in the whole of South Asia. This is no exaggeration, and one can easily prove it through a comparative study.
If the Muslims of Kashmir were to willingly and wholeheartedly join India, they would find that all opportunities for great progress would be opened up to them. The possibilities that they would enjoy to progress economically, educationally and in other ways in India are not available anywhere else.
Moreover, even in terms of politics, the Kashmiri Muslims have great opportunities to progress in India. Some time ago, an article I wrote was published in various Urdu, Hindi and English papers. Therein I stressed that if the Muslims of Kashmir abandon their policy of confrontation and wholeheartedly accept India and become part of it, it is quite possible that one day in the future, and democratic India’s first Muslim Prime Minister will be a Kashmiri Muslim. I have absolutely no doubt at all about this.
The Kashmiri Leadership
I have been seriously pondering on the Kashmir issue for decades now. With God’s blessings, the views that I held about the subject when I started off still appear to me to be valid. With God’s grace, I have never had the need to change them.
According to the published records, I have been writing on Kashmir from 1968 onwards. Probably my first article on the subject was published in the 14th June, 1968 edition of the Urdu weekly Al-Jamiat, the official organ of the Jamiat ul-Ulema-e Hind. Therein I commented that the then Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah was a sincere Kashmiri. Because of his bravery and sacrifices, he truly deserved to be called Sher-e Kashmir, the ‘Lion of Kashmir’. But his moves for Kashmiri independence were simply unrealistic. I wrote that in 1947 he was in a position in which, had he been realistic, he could have decided the fate of Kashmir according to his wishes. But now, I said, when he had lost the power to decide things, he was going about raking up a hue and cry. This furore, a crying out for justice on moral grounds, had no value in the world of today.
I described Shaikh Abdullah’s predicament with the help of the following analogy. Once, a young man decided to open a shop. He had just stepped into the real world and had no idea as to the precautions one should take to survive in the world. And so, he used only a very ordinary lock for his shop.
One day, the young man returned from his shop looking very downcast. Seeing him, an elderly man asked, ‘What’s the matter? You seem very sad.’
‘My shop has been robbed!’ the young man replied.
‘How did that happen?’ asked the old man.
‘The lock was just an ordinary one, and so the robber easily broke it and looted whatever was inside,’ the young man said.
‘Then, it is your fault!’ commented the old man.
‘Yes,’ the young man replied. ‘Now I’ve learnt that one should use a good, strong lock to keep one’s shop safe.’
‘Is this something to learn only after making a mistake? When you decided to become a shopkeeper, you should have known, from the very first day itself, that you should use a strong lock for your shop!’
In matters like one’s shop or other such personal affairs, I wrote, it is possible that if you make a mistake, you can correct yourself. But it is entirely different when it comes to national questions. In personal matters, after once suffering a loss it is possible to again turn the situation in your favour through hard work. But in national affairs, the moment you lose the handle that controls the power to make decisions, the problem becomes very complicated, and also very difficult to resolve.
I further remarked that leadership of a nation is only for those who can envision the future in the present. People whose vision is limited only to the present and the past, and who see the future only when it turns into a reality and bombards them, simply cannot lead a country—although, through their unwise actions, they can certainly entangle it in enormous problems.
I have continuously repeated this line in various other articles that I have been writing on the Kashmir issue over the last many years. If all that I have written on the subject were put together, it would form a voluminous book.
It is with God’s grace that thousands of Kashmiris have benefitted through these efforts I have made. Many of them have cleansed themselves of their militant mentality and are engaged in positive work. I keep receiving letters and telephone calls from Kashmiris in this regard.
Every movement is attributed to a community or the general public, but, in actual fact, it is movement of and for its leaders. A few leaders incite people though their writings and speeches, and then extract the price of their leadership in the name of the people. Such a situation greatly increases the leaders’ responsibilities. Under such conditions, a leader should have undergone the necessary preparation and be capable of handling the responsibilities that go with leadership. If someone becomes a leader without this necessary preparation, he commits a major crime in the eyes of God, even if he may be very popular among people.
The Kashmiris are now faced with the final hour, as it were, when they must rise above their leaders and look at the whole question of Kashmir afresh. They must chart the course of their life, not in the light of the utterances of their leaders, but, rather, in the light of reality. There is simply no other way for them to succeed.
Lessons from Nature
When a stream is blocked by a boulder, it changes its course. Skirting around the boulder, it carries on ahead. However, we foolish human beings act differently. We struggle in vain to seek to break the boulder and move ahead, even if this means that our journey comes to an end, once and for all.
The armed uprising in Kashmir against India began in October 1989. Just a month before this, I visited Kashmir, where I spoke at the Tagore Hall in Srinagar. Besides, on that trip I met with numerous Kashmiris.
One day during this trip, I went with some Kashmiri Muslims to a valley outside Srinagar. The place was arrestingly beautiful. From the towering peaks streams tumbled into the valley below. My companions and I sat on the banks of a brook. I noticed the way the brook flowed, till it arrived at a massive rock. The brook did not bang its head against the rock, seeking to break it and move ahead. Rather, when it met the rock, it swerved around it and kept on with its forward journey uninterrupted.
I turned to my Kashmiri companions and said, ‘This is a message from Nature to you. This phenomenon of Nature tells you that if in the journey of life you face a hurdle, you should not seek to hurl yourself against it to carry on ahead. Rather, what you must do is to carefully avoid the hurdle and continue with your journey. This is the secret for success in life. It applies in the same way to communities as it does to individuals. The only way to progress is to ignore the hurdles one comes up against, and, instead, to focus on, and make use of, the available opportunities to build one’s life.’
Personally, I do not regard the military or political presence of India in Kashmir as a hurdle for the Kashmiris. In the present democratic age, politics is simply a headache and an army is only a guard on the frontiers. Before 1989, the Indian Army in Kashmir was only stationed along the borders of Kashmir. Indian soldiers did not enter Kashmiri localities. But when in October 1989 Kashmiri activists picked up guns and took to the path of violence, the Indian Army entered Kashmiri settlements in order to combat the uprising, because the militants were based there.
Even if, for the sake of argument, the Kashmiri Muslims consider the presence of Indian soldiers in Kashmir to be an obstacle in their path, the only sensible way for them to succeed and progress is what Nature tells them in its own language—‘Ignore the problems and avail the existing opportunities’.
This is not a principle that one should follow out of compulsion. Nor does it apply only to the Kashmir case. Rather, it is a universal principle. It applies to all individuals and groups. It applies just as much to Muslim-majority countries as it does to countries where Muslims are a minority.
A basic principle for a successful life in this world is that if we have a dispute with someone over something, we must, at the very start itself, willingly accept whatever we are getting. If we do not do this at the very outset, and, instead, in a bid to get more than what we are getting, we delay the solution of the dispute, the dispute is bound to become even more intractable. Consequently, it will become impossible for us to get even what we were getting at the very outset.
A good illustration of this principle is the ongoing problem of Palestine. In 1917, the British drew up a plan to partition Palestine. It is commonly known as the Balfour Declaration. This partition scheme was clearly in favour of the Arabs. Under the scheme, less than a third of the territory of Palestine was given to Israel, and more than two-thirds was set aside for the Arabs. As per the scheme, the whole city of Jerusalem and the entire area of the Bayt ul-Muqaddas was given to the Arabs. However, the Muslim leadership of that time refused to accept this scheme. A certain Arab scholar took a realistic stance on the matter and suggested that the scheme be accepted, for which he was accused of betraying Arab interests. This scholar died, uttering the following verse:
Soon my people will come to know that I have not betrayed them.
And no matter how long the night is, the morning simply has to come!
If the Muslim or Arab leaders had adopted a pragmatic and realistic approach, and, accepting whatever was being offered to them at the very outset, had concentrated all their efforts on the work of construction and progress, the Palestinian Arab Muslims today would have been much better off than the Jews of the region. However, because of their unrealistic approach, the Palestinians got nothing but utter destruction.
Exactly the same thing happened in Jammu and Kashmir. Both the Kashmiri and the Pakistani leadership have been victims of extreme ineptitude. Facts reveal that the present Kashmir problem is a result of the injudiciousness of the Kashmiri leaders themselves, rather than of the oppression or conspiracy of others.
In this regard, the record of the injudiciousness of Muslim leaders is a long one. I will allude to just one aspect of this here. In 1947, when India was partitioned, Pakistani leaders adopted a completely unrealistic stance and staked their claim to two Hindu-majority Indian princely states: Junagadh and Hyderabad. Had the Pakistani leaders adopted a realistic approach and not claimed Junagadh and Hyderabad (which Pakistan was definitely not going to get in any case), the question of Kashmir would never have turned into a serious conflict. It could then have very easily been solved in favour of Pakistan. But the two-pronged thrust of the Pakistani leadership in trying to grab Hyderabad and Junagadh and also Kashmir, resulted in Pakistan getting not even one of them.
Let me cite some facts to confirm this point. Chaudhry Muhamnmad Ali was the Prime Minister of Pakistan for a short period in the mid-1950s. Prior to this, he had been a minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan. In his voluminous book Emergence of Pakistan, he relates that shortly after the Partition, the Muslim ruler of the princely state of Junagadh declared his state’s accession to Pakistan, even though Junagadh had a Hindu majority. India did not accept this accession and, through its forces, took over the state and incorporated it into India. After this, a meeting was held in Delhi, attended by Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, from the Indian side, and Liaqat Ali Khan and Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, from the Pakistani side.
Chaudhry Muhammad Ali writes:
Sardar Patel, although a bitter enemy of Pakistan, was a greater realist than Nehru. In one of the discussions between the two Prime Ministers, at which Patel and I were also present, Liaqat Ali Khan dwelt on the inconsistency of the Indian stand with regard to Junagadh and Kashmir. If Junagadh, despite its Muslim ruler’s accession to Pakistan, belonged to India because of its Hindu majority, how could Kashmir, with its Muslim majority, be a part of India simply by virtue of its Hindu ruler having signed a conditional instrument of accession to India? If the instrument of accession signed by the Muslim ruler of Junagadh was of no validity, the instrument of accession signed by the Hindu ruler of Kashmir was also invalid. If the will of the people was to prevail in Junagadh, it must prevail in Kashmir as well. India could not claim both Junagadh and Kashmir.
When Liaqat made these incontrovertible points, Patel could not contain himself and burst out: “Why do you compare Junagadh with Kashmir? Talk of Hyderabad and Kashmir, and we could reach an agreement.” Patel’s view at this time, and even later, was that India’s efforts to retain Muslim-majority areas against the will of the people were a source not of strength but of weakness to India. He felt that if India and Pakistan agreed to let Kashmir go to Pakistan and Hyderabad to India, the problems of Kashmir and of Hyderabad could be solved peacefully and to the mutual advantage of India and Pakistan.
If what Chaudhry Muhammad Ali says is true, it is incontrovertible proof that the conflict over Kashmir is the creation of the Pakistani leaders themselves, and not of the Indian leaders.
Further proof of this is available in another book by the well-known Pakistani leader, Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan. This book was originally written in English, under the title The Nation That Lost Its Soul. Its Urdu edition, titled Gumgashta-e-Qaum, was published from Lahore. Here are some excerpts from this book:
Later, during the attack on Kashmir, Mountbatten came to Lahore. At a dinner attended by [the then Pakistani Prime Minister] Liaqat [Ali Khan], Governor Mudie and four Ministers of West Punjab, Lord Mountbatten conveyed a message from Patel, the strongman of India, asking Liaqat to abide by the rules regarding the future of the princely States previously agreed upon between the Congress and the Muslim League: that they would accede to either India or Pakistan on the basis of the majority of their inhabitants and their contiguity to [either India or Pakistan]. Patel had said that Pakistan could take Kashmir and let go Hyderabad Deccan, which had a majority Hindu population and was nowhere near Pakistan, by sea or land. After delivering this message, Lord Mountbatten went to rest in the Lahore Government House.
I, being overall in charge of the Kashmir operations, went to Liaqat Ali Khan. I suggested to him that as the Indian Army had entered Kashmir and we would be unable to annex Kashmir with the help of the tribesmen, or even with our inadequate armed forces, we should make haste to accept Patel’s proposal. Nawabzada [Liaqat Ali Khan] turned round to me and said, ‘Sardar Sahib! Have I gone mad to give up Hyderabad State, which is much larger than the Punjab, for the sake of the rocks of Kashmir?’
I was stunned by the Prime Minister’s reaction and his ignorance of our geography and his lack of wisdom. I thought he was living in a fool’s paradise and did not understand the importance of Kashmir to Pakistan, while hoping to get Hyderabad, which at best was only quixotic, wishful thinking. It was not connected with Pakistan anywhere. In protest, I resigned from the position I was holding in the Kashmir operations.
If one accepts what Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan says as true, it is clear evidence that the conflict over Kashmir was created entirely and solely by the Muslim leadership and no one else. Here, I will add that according to a fixed law of Nature, it is not possible for any individual or community to exact the price of its own mistakes from others. A person has to pay the price of his follies himself, and definitely Pakistan is no exception to this rule.