By Shabir Choudhry
Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a seminar arranged by Kashmir National Party to observe and condemn ‘Tribal Invasion’ which Pakistani government managed on 22 October 1947 to capture the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr. Chairman, friends and colleagues Assalam o Alikum
I want to thank Asim Mirza and other people who helped to arrange this seminar to observe Black Day. KNP leadership can rightly take credit for being the first one to take this courageous step and tell the Kashmiri nation that Black Day should be observed on 22 October and not on 27 October as we have been observing in the past.
On advice and on instructions of JKLF senior leadership, and under influence of propaganda and wrong history taught to us (prepared by Pakistani bureaucrats to advance their imperialist aims in Jammu and Kashmir), we always observed Black Day on 27 October to coincide with the landing of the Indian army in Jammu and Kashmir. This wrong history and propaganda of Islamabad under the cover of religion is taught to us right from the childhood, and aim of that is to make us obedient slaves of Pakistan rather than rational human beings and loyal citizens of Jammu and Kashmir.
KNP leaders said after the lapse of the British Paramountcy, Jammu and Kashmir emerged as an independent state on 15 August 1947, and this fact was acknowledged by Pakistani leaders and they concluded a Standstill Agreement with the government of Jammu and Kashmir. When KNP leadership announced that we should observe a Black Day on 22 October because it was on this day Pakistan and Pakistani backed tribesmen attacked sovereignty of the State of Jammu and Kashmir by violating terms of the Standstill Agreement there was an outcry against this move.
Some Kashmiri parties, including some JKLF leaders accused us for promoting a pro Indian agenda, as in their view we were diverting attention away from the Valley; and they accused us for creating problems on the Pakistani side of Jammu and Kashmir and weakening the struggle. When I looked at todays Urdu papers of Azad Kashmir it gave me immense satisfaction and a real sense of achievement, as papers were full of news items showing that different Kashmiri parties observed 22 October as a Black Day. My pleasure and sense of achievement was enhanced with news that the JKLF also observed 22 October as a Black day.
This proves that we were right at that time, and we are right now. We are trend setters and our thinking is ahead of other parties and political activists. Whenever something new is introduced, and even when it is not new and has been hidden by those who occupy us, people will oppose that either due to lack of knowledge or on instructions of those powers which want to maintain the status quo. KNP leadership is determined to bring out facts and educate the young Kashmiris about our rich historical past, about events of 1940s and the present day forced division that they can make informed decisions as to how to fight those who occupy us and take forward our struggle in line with international requirements.
Root cause of our present troubles, and trouble since 1947 is that unprovoked aggression against us which started on 22 October 1947, and resulted in killing of tens of thousands of innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir, looting arson, rapes and kidnapping of Kashmiri women. Furthermore it forced the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir to seek help from India to save his State, life, property and honour of his subjects. The Indian help came only after the Maharaja agreed to sign an Instrument of Accession with India which was provisionally accepted and had to be ratified by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Of course, to date we have not had an opportunity to ratify or reject that Provisional Accession.
The Indian forces landed in Kashmir on the morning of 27 October 1947; and Pakistani governments and Pakistani backed parties are encouraged and helped to observe that day as a Black Day. I have no problem with that. However, this fact should be understood that if there was no tribal attack on 22 October 1947, there would not have been any need to seek help from India, and the Indian troops would not have landed on 27 October. In other words, 27 October is a by product of the events that started on 22 October; and without this unprovoked aggression, aim of which was to capture the Kashmiri Capital, we could have been an independent State.
Furthermore, whereas Pakistan and Pakistani backed tribesmen entered the State territory by violating the Standstill Agreement, and against the wishes of the government and the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir; the Indian troops entered the Kashmiri territory on the request of the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir and as a result of a treaty between the two States.
It must be pointed out here that the present role of the Indian army and para military forces goes far beyond the terms of the agreement under which they entered the State. I and my other colleagues condemn all human rights abuses taking place in Jammu and Kashmir whether committed by men in uniform, secret agencies or jihadi groups or other militants; but we must understand historical facts and who did what in name of Kashmir dispute.
Some people in order to justify the ‘Tribal Invasion’ claim that the tribesmen came there to help Muslims who were being butchered by Hindus and Sikhs in Jammu. This story is totally wrong; and is advanced only to provide a cover to the atrocities of these savage tribesmen. Communal riots started in Jammu in third week of August 1947 when non Muslims uprooted from Pakistani Punjab poured in to Jammu from Sialkot and Gujrat areas. Horror stories and condition of these ‘migrants’ provided fuel required to start riots and non Muslims from outside the State also took part in these riots in which Muslims were the main target.
If aim of this tribal attack was to help Muslims who were killed in riots then they should have proceeded towards Jammu where Muslims were in minority. They could have entered the State territory from Sialkot which is only about 28 miles from Jammu or from Gujrat. Furthermore, why did they wait till 22 October (two months) before they launched this tribal attack, Muslims of Jammu needed urgent help in August 1947, but Pakistani government and these Tribesmen did not make any move, they did not even issues a statement against these riots.
The reason for this is that until mid October 1947, Pakistani authorities were under this impression that the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir will accede with Pakistan; and by helping Muslims of Jammu (when they were under attack) or by speaking in their support the Government of Pakistan did not want to annoy the Maharaja and risk losing Jammu and Kashmir. However, when Pakistani government realised that the Maharaja did not want to join Pakistan and wanted to remain independent; and he even refused to allow Mohammed Ali Jinnah to visit Srinagar for a holiday, they decided to teach him a lesson.
Pakistani government was really annoyed and felt humiliated and let down. They decided to punish the Maharaja and take over Kashmir by force. In complete violation of the Standstill Agreement they stopped all the essential supplies including food and oil entering the State; and despite repeated requests from the Maharaja government, Pakistan did not allow resumption of supplies of essential goods to Jammu and Kashmir.
To make matters worse for the Maharaja, Pakistan government encouraged a rebellion in Poonch where Muslims were very resentful. Muslim soldiers who took part in the Second World War had returned to their homes and were more conscious of their rights and use of gun. Furthermore Pakistan accused the Maharajah government for attacking Pakistani territory; and demanded that either the Maharaja or his Prime Minister should immediately visit Karachi (Pakistan) to resolve these issues.
The Maharaja denied these charges, and said how his small army (8000, in total and scattered in various parts of the State) could attack Pakistan; and for what purpose he would do that. Both governments exchanged telegrams to resolve these issues between second week of October and 19th October 1947; and the Maharaja suggested to set up a Joint Commission to investigate these matters. Pakistani government showed no interest in any kind of investigation or any Commission; and while these communications were going on, Pakistan assembled tribesmen from North West Frontier in name of Jihad and attacked the Valley of Kashmir which had overwhelming Muslim majority, and where there were no riots and Muslims were not under attack.
Clearly the aim was not to help surrounded Muslims of Jammu, but to punish the Maharaja by capturing his capital – Srinagar. As noted earlier if the aim was to help Muslims of Jammu then the tribesmen should have been directed to Jammu Province via Sialkot and Gujrat; and that attack should have taken place in August 1947, and not on 22 October.
In this brutal attack non Muslims were the main target – their men were systematically killed, their women were raped and kidnapped and taken back to North West Frontier. Their houses were burnt; however, the tribesmen showed great equality when it came to looting- they looted everyone; even those items which were stored in a Masjid (Mosque) by Muslims and non Muslims hoping that Muslim tribesmen will not loot their belongings from a place of worship, were also looted. Any Muslim who tried to protect non Muslims and criticised these tribesmen were also killed on spot. It is believed that more than 30 thousands people lost their lives in this brutal attack.
To us 22 October is rightly called a Black Day, but to rub salt in our wounds, and to hide their crimes, imperialists of Pakistan and their foot soldiers camouflaged their crimes in name of religion and fabricated false stories to justify their atrocities and naked aggression. Sad thing is that these people have not learnt anything, and they still continue to promote those policies which divide people in name of religion; and time has come that we people of Jammu and Kashmir stand up and be counted.
Situation Gilgit Baltistan
Yesterday I received a phone call from a nationalist leader from Gilgit who is under detention there just because he spoke out against policies of Pakistan. This man, Baba Jan is a political leader and believes in peaceful struggle. He demands fundamental rights for the people of Gilgit Baltistan and exposes Pakistani oppression and exploitation. He has not committed any crime; and yet he is suffering in prison because he believes Pakistani occupation of these areas is illegal and against the wishes and interests of the local people.
While talking to me Baba Jan said: ‘Dr Shabir Choudhry, give my Salam (greetings) to my brothers of Azad Kashmir who are observing a Black Day to condemn and expose the Pakistan’s Kashmir policy and the tribal invasion. Tell them I fully support you and wish you all the best for your seminar. While you talk about your miseries and problems, please do not forget about the problems we face in Gilgit Baltistan.’
Baba Jan further said, ‘like you people we are also occupied, but we are in worst condition because we don’t even enjoy those rights which you people have been enjoying for many decades. I support struggle of those people who are fighting for their rights and freedom on the Indian side of the LOC. I also support your struggle, but I cannot go to Muzaffarbad or Srinagar and fight for you because I am also in chains in Gilgit Baltistan. I believe my struggle is on this side of the divide where I am occupied and oppressed. I can only help you or fight to liberate you brothers once I am free; and those people who ask you to liberate the Indian side of the Jammu and Kashmir first are not sincere, as they are promoting the agenda of Islamabad to hide their crimes and keep attention away from these areas which in many ways are still living in dark ages.’
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your patience and for allowing me to pass on message of Baba Jan who is another victim of Pakistani secret agencies, and who is suffering because of his political views.
Writer is a leader of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.