Churchill called Hindus beastly people with a beastly religion. In a meeting with Mountbatten, he described Muslims as Britain’s allies and accused him of planning and organizing ‘the first victory of Hindustan (He refused to call it India) against Pakistan by sending British trained soldiers and British equipment to crush and oppress the Muslims in Kashmir and that it was an act of gross betrayal” (1)
British intention was to put in place a very week federal structure of India which will break in to many nations in due course of time. Mountbatten wanted to set up independent Hyderabad in the belly of India, also wanted Maharaja of Kashmir to accede to Pakistan. But he was helpless at the hands of Sardar Patel who will not let his machinations work and could tell him bluntly on his face. Western powers also wanted to appease and are even now appeasing the Muslim Umma by placating Pakistan on Kashmir. This article will delineate all such designs right from 1947 onwards.
We start with Edwina Mountbatten. Lady Pamela Hicks, daughter of late Viceroy has said in her book and later corroborated it in an interview to Karan Thapar that “it could have been possible that Jawaharlal Nehru took the decision to refer Kashmir to the United Nations under the advice of Mountbatten and that later used Edwina Mountbatten’s emotional influence on Pandit ji for getting it through” (2)
“Gilgit agency had been acquired by the British from an extremely reluctant Maharaja Hari Singh on 60 years lease basis in 1935. But towards the end of July 1947, it was returned to him. Then there was a revolt against the Maharaja by Gilgit scouts led by a Scotsman Major Brown. Christopher Thomas an eminent journalist and a writer of the time has said “It is entirely possible that the British incited the revolt to ensure that this strategically vital region came under Pakistan’s jurisdiction in the expectation that Pakistan would cooperate in the Western defence pacts to block Russian ambitions” (3)
General Ismay Chief of staff to Mountbatten as also Field Marshal Lord Montgomery were of the view that “British strategy required the use of bases in the sub continent and that the relations with the whole Mussalman block had to be considered” C.Das Gupta, an illustrious diplomat has further said “By August 1947, the British authorities had determined that their strategic interests in the subcontinent lay primarily in Pakistan. This was buttressed by the view that Britain’s relations with the ‘whole Mussulman bloc’ would be jeopardised in the absence of close ties with Pakistan”(4)
Lt. General L.P.Sen, the then Brigade Commander who led the first counter offensive against the Pak forces had this to say on the empathy of British Commanders of Pak army for the Pakistani cause that “Major General Akbar Khan who led the Pak tribals, was a regular officer of the Pakistan army and had established his HQrs at Rawalpindi in the same building where Pak army Hqrs had been located. How was it that the British C-in-C of Pak army was not aware of it?”(5) Bias is apparent from what Philip Ziegler, an official biographer of Lord Mountbatten commented on the issue of J&K’s accession to India that “Secretary of state for Commonwealth Relations while spelling out the British approach observed “It would have been natural for Kashmir to eventually have acceded to Pakistan on agreed terms, because of her predominantly Muslim population” (6)
What happened after a reference was made to the U.N? As per H.V.Hodson, an eminent British historian, Pt Nehru said “He was shocked to find that power politics and not the ethics were ruling the United Nations and was convinced that the United Nations organization was being completely run by the Americans and that Senator Warren Austin, the American representative had made no bones of his sympathy for the Pakistan cause. Similarly Mr Noel Baker, the secretary of state for common wealth relations and leader of the United Kingdom’s Delegation had been as hostile to India as Warren Austin. The belief spread was that the United Kingdom wished to please the cause of Muslim solidarity in the Middle East and that the United states wished to rehabilitate their position visa-vis the Arabs after their advocacy of partition of Palestine.” (7)
Sardar Patel had always been opposed to any reference to the Security Council. Indirectly hinting on the role of Mountbatten, Gen. Ismay and some others, Patel told Arthur Henderson, British Under Secretary of state “Unfortunately, it is my experience that the attitude of an average Englishman in India is instinctively against us….We should never have gone to the UNO…At the UNO, not only has the dispute been prolonged but the merits of our case have been completely lost in the interaction of power politics….We were terribly disappointed at the attitude of your delegation….it was we maintain, the attitude of Noel Baker that tilted the balance against us. But for his lead, I doubt if The USA and some other powers would have gone against us” (8)
In 1953, Mr Adlai Stevenson the then Governor of Illinois (USA) met Sheikh Abdullah in Sri Nagar. Commenting on this meeting, Manchester Guardian disclosed in August 1953, that he (Mr Stevenson) “seems to have listened to suggestions that the best status for Kashmir could be independence from both India and Pakistan” and that Sheikh Abdullah had been encouraged by Adlai Stevenson. “Sheikh was suspected of planning a session of the constituent Assembly which instead of ratifying the accession to India, would declare the vale of Kashmir, independent.” According to New York Times July, 1953 “Kashmir valley would gain independence, possibly guaranteed by both countries and the rest of the state would be partitioned between them roughly along the present cease-fire line. It was said that John Foster Dulles, U.S Secretary of State supported a solution of this nature”
According to Ex-US ambassador Dennis Klux, in 1953 U.S. President Truman endorsed the UN Commission suggestion of arbitration to solve Indo-Pak differences on Kashmir. Pt. Nehru rejected it though in his meeting with John Foster Dulles, he agreed that partition might be a better way to solve the problem than the plebiscite” (9) Again in 1957-58, South Asia specialists of the U.S.State Deptt, put major sources of India-Pak tensions–Kashmir, Indus water and arms race in to a single negotiating basket for working out the solutions for all these problems. President Dwight Eisenhower reacted enthusiastically to the proposal. Pt Nehru however did not give a positive response.
Later John F. Kennedy, the then US President decided to send a team headed by Averall Harriman to the sub-continent. The British dispatched a parallel mission headed by Common Wealth Relations Secretary Duncan Sandys. Nehru scuttled the negotiations and wrote back “To give up valley to Pakistan or to countenance its internationalization, poses political and strategic problems for India which render such solutions impossible”
U.S. State Department experts outlined yet another solution, that is, joint India-Pakistan presence in the valley and partition of the rest of Jammu and Kashmir and sought President’s approval to step up U.S involvement. Kennedy agreed and proposed former World Bank President Eugene Black to serve as the mediator. Nehru however rejected the proposal.
Admittedly under pressure from the United States, talks were held with Pakistan in 1962-63. Indian delegation led by Sardar Sawaran Singh proposed modification of the cease-fire line in favour of Pakistan. Six rounds of talks were held but yielded no result. However in 1963, Kennedy approved the release of US-UK paper outlining elements of settlement which were as follows:
• Giving both India and Pakistan a substantial position in the vale
• Ensuring India’s access through the vale for defense of Ladakh.
• Ensuring Pakistan’s interest in the head waters of Chenab River.
• Ensuring some local self rule in the vale and free movement of people to India and Pakistan and enhancing economic development.
In April 1963 Ambassador Galbraith raised the Kashmir issue twice with Pt. Nehru. Prime Minister took a hard line against the partition of the valley and wrote to Kennedy that “I am convinced that these ill considered and ill conceived initiatives, however well intentioned they may be, have at least for the present made it impossible to reach any settlement on this rather involved and complicated question”
Stephen Philip Cohen, an expert on South Asia gives the glimpses of the US strategy that “American officials now seem to accept facilitation as a legitimate and a useful role. The formula to deal with such issues is not to wait until they are ripe for resolution or turn away or to search for a definitive solution when none is available” (10)
Strobe Talbot, then a senior diplomat in the US foreign office has referred to his talks with Sh. Jaswant Singh the then Foreign Minister of India that “The first full cast session of the US-Indian dialogue took place in July 1998 at Frankfurt airport. Jaswant was prepared to talk about his Govt. converting the line of control in to an international boundary” (11)
Now let us talk about one much discussed personality viz., Farooq Kathwari, a member of the influential US Council on Foreign Relations. He is the chairman of the Kashmir Study Group which he founded in 1996. Its members are all well up in the policy making higher echelons of the US Govt. It published a report, titled ‘Livingston Proposal: Kashmir, A Way Forward’ Also known as the Farooq Kathwari report, the document aims at diluting Indian sovereignty in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, envisages creation of two Kashmir entities – one each on either side of the LOC and each with its own government, constitution or a single Kashmiri entity with its own constitutional framework and Government. Indirectly, it is the US vision of settling the Kashmir dispute.
Praveen Swami in his article in Frontline referred to the then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah’s conclave with Farooq Kathwari whom he described as United States based secessionist leader and assessed it as part of a larger U.S. sponsored covert dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir. One can say that as a follow up to this, in March 1999 Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz met at Colombo. The tentative agreement, inter alia, suggested plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir on regional/district basis, division of Jammu province along Chenab River on communal lines, “maximum possible autonomy to Kashmir and its adjoining areas” and “annexation” of the remaining areas of Jammu province and Ladakh region by India. Singh and Aziz were to meet again after a month to give concrete shape to this agreement. However we saw the Kargil invasion. Round about this time, Rand Corporation, considered as the most prominent think tank, influencing the policies of USA published a report elaborating on various options for the settlement of Kashmir.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in the autumn of 2002, Secretary General Kofi Annan identified hostility between India and Pakistan as one of the most perilous threats to global peace and security. He ‘gladly’ acknowledged and strongly welcomed efforts made by ‘well placed’ U.N. member-states to persuade the two countries to reduce tension. And that if another confrontation between India and Pakistan threatened to ignite war, Annan warned “the international community might have a role to play” Later a top US official source indicated that during discussion in New York, Annan and US President George W. Bush “had agreed on their hope to move beyond crisis management to real solutions on Kashmir”
The US Embassy in Pakistan had prepared a goal paper in 2002. It had fixed 2005 as the target year for solving the Kashmir issue by achieving (A) Regular movement of civilian traffic across the LOC (B) Kashmir politicians assume prominence in political discourse (C) Evolve a framework for eventual political resolution of the Kashmir problem. In a way, it had started happening with our Prime Minister’s desire to make the borders irrelevant and Musharraf’s plan of demilitarization and joint governance.
What was Musharraf’s formula? He told reporters everywhere that “I came out with a broad outline which included gradual demilitarization of the Line of Control and Kashmiri cities; maximum self-governance on both sides of the Line of Control; a joint governing mechanism for Kashmir; to include Pakistanis, Indians and local Kashmiri leaders and most important a porous Line of Control… I wanted to make the Line of Control irrelevant” This Pakistan-promoted option had the heavy endorsement of Washington.
Again as a follow up to Musharraf’s formula, former US President Bill Clinton suggested a Northern Ire land’s Good Friday Agreement which creates a broadly inclusive power sharing arrangements providing for equal representation in the Govt for the pro-British (Unionists) and pro-Irish (Nationalists) and the cross border institutionalised framework.
The then U.S Commander General David Petraeus had a strategy security review with Ahmed Rashid, an acknowledged authority on Taliban and Afghanistan. Rashid projected his latest proposal, called “grand bargain”, central argument of which draws the same connection between solving terrorism in Afghanistan and solving Kashmir. President Obama has also been advocating that Pakistan would be persuaded to stop supporting terrorism if India can be persuaded to solve Kashmir.
Another dice on the chess board of USA is ‘Go for a Kashmir solution for a ticket to UN Security Council membership and fulfilling your big power aspirations’ This is what Chidanand Rajghatta wrote from Washington in TNN in Sep 2010. That was the broad message of President Barack Obama.
Bob Woodward, an American investigative journalist and non-fiction author. who has written a famous book on US President Obama, gives the clearest insight into Obama’s thinking on the matter. In this book, top US policy makers are shown mulling on defusing the Kashmir situation as part of an exit strategy for US. “Why can’t we have straightforward talks with India on why a stable Pakistan is crucial?” Obama is reported as musing at one meeting. President Obama’s strategy for dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan always needed a settlement of Kashmir (12)
Bruce Riedel, author of the Obama administration’s Af-Pak strategy, has canvassed the centrality of the Kashmir issue to peace and stability in the region. In fact, the solution Washington has in mind is on the same lines of what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan’s deposed military leader Pervez Musharraf had broadly agreed on earlier. Riedel said before the scheduled visit of President Obama to India that he will quietly help Islamabad and New Delhi to get back to the deal, Musharraf and Singh had negotiated.
S. Rajagopalan wrote from Washington in The Pioneer dated April 2010 that “Pentagon has emerged as an active lobbyist for more pressure on India to take Pakistan’s concerns more seriously and that Admiral Mike Mullen, the then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US Govenment’s the then prime interlocutor with the powerful Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, was for “encouraging New Delhi to cooperate more with Pakistan”. Recently another columnist Siddharth Varadarajan wrote from Washington that US had moved from de-hyphenation to dual-hyphenation- “Whether valid or not, Obama administration and the rest of the world see a link between Afghanistan and the India-Pakistan relationship, between the ongoing military instability on the Afghanistan- Pakistan border and the unsettled relationship between New Delhi and Islamabad.
I shall end my presentation with two quotable quotes from our Prime Minister that “Gilani is a man of peace” and that Pak army wants peace with India. Let us keep our fingers crossed. As discussed above, syndicate of Western powers led by USA are determined to foist upon us their diabolic designs on Kashmir. We ought to be more watchful about the intentions of the world powers, build up the military muscle, dominate the world economy, play the diplomatic cards with confidence and with the cleverness of Chanakya otherwise we will lose Kashmir which will open the flood gates of secessionist activities across the country.
1) Indian Summer by Alex Von Tunzelmann
2) India Remembered: A Personal Account of the Mountbattens During the Transfer of Power by Pamela Mountbatten
3) Faultline: Kashmir by Christopher Thomas
4) C.Das Gupta says in War & Diplomacy in Kashmir
5) Slender was the Thread by Lt. General L.P.Sen
6) Mountbatten- The Official Biography by Philip Ziegler
7) The Great Divide by H.V.Hodson
8) Sardar Patel’s correspondence-Vol. VI, page 387
9) Disenchanted Allies by Ex-US Ambassador Dennis Klux
10) The Idea of Pakistan by Stephen Philip Cohen
11) Engaging India by Strobe Talbot
12) Obama’s War by Bob Woodward