This is a rather self-contained excerpt from my two-part article in The Statesman of June 4-5, 2006 titled“Pakistan’s Allies”.
“Jammu & Kashmir and especially Gilgit-Baltistan adjoins the Pashtun regions whose capital has been Peshawar. In August-November 1947, a British coup d’etat against J&K State secured Gilgit-Baltistan for the new British Dominion of Pakistan.
The Treaty of Amritsar had nowhere required Gulab Singh’s dynasty to accept British political control in J&K as came to be exercised by British “Residents” in all other Indian “Native States”. Despite this, Delhi throughout the late 19th Century relentlessly pressed Gulab Singh’s successors Ranbir Singh and Partab Singh to accept political control. The Dogras acquiesced eventually. Delhi’s desire for control had less to do with the welfare of J&K’s people than with protection of increasing British interests in the area, like European migration to Srinagar Valley and guarding against Russian or German moves in Afghanistan.
“Sargin” or “Sargin Gilit”, later corrupted by the Sikhs and Dogras into “Gilgit”, had an ancient people who spoke an archaic Dardic language “intermediate between the Iranian and the Sanskritic”. “The Dards were located by Ptolemy with surprising accuracy on the West of the Upper Indus, beyond the headwaters of the Swat River (Greek: Soastus) and north of the Gandarae (i.e. Kandahar), who occupied Peshawar and the country north of it. This region was traversed by two Chinese pilgrims, Fa-Hsien, coming from the north about AD 400 and Hsuan Tsiang, ascending from Swat in AD 629, and both left records of their journeys.”
Gilgit had been historically ruled by a Hindu dynasty called Trakane; when they became extinct, Gilgit Valley “was desolated by successive invasions of neighbouring rulers, and in the 20 or 30 years ending with 1842 there had been five dynastic revolutions. The Sikhs entered Gilgit about 1842 and kept a garrison there.” When J&K came under Gulab Singh, “the Gilgit claims were transferred with it, and a boundary commission was sent” by the British. In 1852 the Dogras were driven out with 2,000 dead. In 1860 under Ranbir Singh, the Dogras “returned to Gilgit and took Yasin twice, but did not hold it. They also in 1866 invaded Darel, one of the most secluded Dard states, to the south of the Gilgit basin but withdrew again.”
The British appointed a Political Agent in Gilgit in 1877 but he was withdrawn in 1881. “In 1889, in order to guard against the advance of Russia, the British Government, acting as the suzerain power of Kashmir, established the Gilgit Agency”. The Agency was re-established under control of the British Resident in Jammu & Kashmir. “It comprised the Gilgit Wazarat; the State of Hunza and Nagar; the Punial Jagir; the Governorships of Yasin, Kuh-Ghizr and Ishkoman, and Chilas”. In 1935, the British demanded J&K lease to them for 60 years Gilgit town plus most of the Gilgit Agency and the hill-states Hunza, Nagar, Yasin and Ishkuman. Hari Singh had no choice but to acquiesce. The leased region was then treated as part of British India, administered by a Political Agent at Gilgit responsible to Delhi, first through the Resident in J& K and later a British Agent in Peshawar. J& K State no longer kept troops in Gilgit and a mercenary force, the Gilgit Scouts, was recruited with British officers and paid for by Delhi. In April 1947, Delhi decided to formally retrocede the leased areas to Hari Singh’s J& K State as of 15 August 1947. The transfer was to formally take place on 1 August.
On 31 July, Hari Singh’s Governor arrived to find “all the officers of the British Government had opted for service in Pakistan”. The Gilgit Scouts’ commander, a Major William Brown aged 25, and his adjutant, a Captain Mathieson, planned openly to engineer a coup détat against Hari Singh’s Government. Between August and October, Gilgit was in uneasy calm. At midnight on 31 October 1947, the Governor was surrounded by the Scouts and the next day he was “arrested” and a provisional government declared.
Hari Singh’s nearest forces were at Bunji, 34 miles from Gilgit, a few miles downstream from where the Indus is joined by Gilgit River. The 6th J& K Infantry Battalion there was a mixed Sikh-Muslim unit, typical of the State’s Army, commanded by a Lt Col. Majid Khan. Bunji controlled the road to Srinagar. Further upstream was Skardu, capital of Baltistan, part of Laddakh District where there was a small garrison. Following Brown’s coup in Gilgit, Muslim soldiers of the 6th Infantry massacred their Sikh brothers-at-arms at Bunji. The few Sikhs who survived escaped to the hills and from there found their way to the garrison at Skardu.
On 4 November 1947, Brown raised the new Pakistani flag in the Scouts’ lines, and by the third week of November a Political Agent from Pakistan had established himself at Gilgit. Brown had engineered Gilgit and its adjoining states to first secede from J&K, and, after some talk of being independent, had promptly acceded to Pakistan. His commander in Peshawar, a Col. Bacon, as well as Col. Iskander Mirza, Defence Secretary in the new Pakistan and later to lead the first military coup détat and become President of Pakistan, were pleased enough. In July 1948, Brown was awarded an MBE (Military) and the British Governor of the NWFP got him a civilian job with ICI~ which however sent him to Calcutta, where he came to be attacked and left for dead on the streets by Sikhs avenging the Bunji massacre. Brown survived, returned to England, started a riding school, and died in 1984. In March 1994, Pakistan awarded his widow the Sitara-I-Pakistan in recognition of his coup détat.
Gilgit’s ordinary people had not participated in Brown’s coup which carried their fortunes into the new Pakistan, and to this day appear to remain without legislative representation. It was merely assumed that since they were mostly Muslim in number they would wish to be part of Pakistan ~ which also became Liaquat Ali Khan’s assumption about J&K State as a whole in his 1950 statements in North America. What the Gilgit case demonstrates is that J&K State’s descent into a legal condition of ownerless anarchy open to “Military Decision” had begun even before the Pakistani invasion of 22 October 1947 (viz. “Solving Kashmir”, The Statesman, 1-3 December 2005). Also, whatever else the British said or did with respect to J & K, they were closely allied to the new Pakistan on the matter of Gilgit.”
Mr Kaiser Hameed Khan has sent in this informative comment:
Dear Dr. Roy,
Your perspective of Gilgit is mistaken.
Firstly Iskandar Mirza was not a military man, he was a bureaucrat and had served as DC Peshawar during the British India. You have tried to imply that the Military men supported each other in handing over Gilgit to Pakistan.
Secondly you have not mentioned the force which was sent from Bunji to extricate the beleagured Brigadier Ghansara Singh, it was massacared by the locals of Gilgit near Parri defile( Speaks of the love of the locals towards the Khalsas) Who hurled stones and boulders from the precipice towards the attacking military near Chamughrh.
Thirdly you forget to mention the local freedom fighters like Capt Hassan. I think this was a reaction towards the oppressive behavior of the Bunji Garrison towards the poor locals, who had a dearth of resources and scarce means of livelihood.The people of Gilgit are more aggressive than the Kashmiris who have been terrorised since 1947, had this area been with India rest assure India would have lost the whole of Kashmir by now. Or on the contrary like Kashmir a lot of civilians would have been killed by the indian Army under the garb of prevention of Terrorism.
Dear Sir the ground reality is that the people of Jaglot which is on the opposite bank of river Indus from Bunji,are still tribal in nature and do strongly resist any foreign suppression.It was in Jaglot that the locals first destroyed the Partab Pul which is still in that condition.And raised Pakistani Flag.The majority of these people are still proud for their actions of 1947.
I invite you to kindly visit this area and form an independent opinion before you start writing or distorting history.To be a Historian you have to rise above personal or National affiliations and establish your credibility, which I am afraid leaves much to be desired form what I have pointed out as incorrect in your article.
I am grateful to Mr Khan for his informative comment. Re Iskander Mirza, I was referring to the person mentioned below who clealy was a military man http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iskander_Mirza
but it is not impossible there were two persons of the same name and Mr Khan is referring to the other.
It is a custom of the Military that if you retire before you become a substantive Captain, you cannot write your rank. Iskander Mirza never became a substantive Captain before he shed his uniform to become a bureaucrat. Even MK Gandhi, a champion of peace was a havaldar in the British Indian Army, decorated by them for his role in the Zulu & Boer wars. Iskander Mirza had yet to see action. Iskander Mirza had assumed the Honourary rank of a Major General, which cost him his presidency.
Re Gilgit, it is food for thought that the Muslim officers in the J&K Army were locals of Gilgit whereas the Sikhs and Hindus in the Bunji Garrison were not locals. So were the J&K troops in Skardu also aliens. It is a natural phemenon that such people in authority are despised by the populace of the region, particularly when they were not very kind to the locals of Gilgit, Jaglot and Bunji. I am sure even if Major Brown had not been in Gilgit, Captain Hassan and other Muslim officers in Hari Singh’s Army would have taken the same action to liberate their area from the tyrannical rule.
After having carried out thorough research, I am led to a conclusion that Mr. Iskander Mirza was neither a Colonel nor a Major General. He had left the British Army as a newly promoted Captain to join the indian Civil Service. Neither was there another Civil or Military person by that name. I would request the learned Dr. Subroto Roy to put the record straight in his account of the revolt of Gilgit.
Iskandar Mirza was from the family of Mir Jaafar, Vazir of Sirajuddaula. Dr. Roy said something about President Mirza’s son marrying and coming to USA. It has nothing to do with what he wrote about Gilgit.
Greeks and Persians meant by Hindu people who lived beyond or east of Sindu or Indus or River Sindh. I know my father’s side became Muslim in the time of Aurangzeb from Rajputs and settled in Doaaba (Gurdaspure District). My mother’s side was Kashmiri pundit around seven generations ago. But I am a born Pakistani and a Muslim by family.
We may be Indians’ cousins a few generations back but as Pakistanis now we see things differently.
Mr Zaigham Ali may be surprised that his point is one I find consistent with my own, namely, the actions of the then-new British Dominion of Pakistan with respect to Gilgit in August-November 1947 were tantamount to ending the status in international law of the old State of Jammu & Kashmir that had originated in 1846. The then-new British Dominion of India did not ever have de facto control of Gilgit as a result. Hence, Mr Ali’s “Gilgit never belonged to India” is correct. Due to Pakistan’s action in Gilgit and then later the attack commencing October 22, the old State of J&K disintegrated between August and October 1947 into an ownerless entity in international law. Its territories came to be annexed by military decision by the new Pakistan and new India, and hence we have the LOC being the valid demarcation in international law.
I am a local of Gilgit-Baltistan and a student of history. Just a few comments:
Hassan Khan was a local, and serving in the J&K army as a colonel.
Gilgit-Baltistan’s accession to Pakistan was planned by the British and Maj. Brown was sent to Gilgit with the plan. When after capturing Ghansara Singh, Gilgit and Chitral Scouts moved towards Skardu and Ladakh and they had also captured Kargil and Gures Tehsils of Jammu they had reached Srinagar well before Indian Army’s arrival. They were called backed by Maj. Brown and all were punished including Col. Hassan Khan. Chhitral Scouts were sent to Chitral bare foot, they crossed Shandur pass in November without warm cloths and shoes…. many of them still alive and they tell their accounts.
I thank Mr Saud Ahmad Jan for his comment but I do not think a part of it squares with the facts. Brown’s coup, though planned since July-August, did not occur until October 30 — after the Pashtun invasion of the Valley had begun on October 22. As I recall the record, the Maharaja signed the accession papers on the 26th of October and the Indian Army airlift commenced on the 27th.
Skardu Fort was indeed captured by the Pakistan Army from the Indian Army some time in 1948; Kargil was taken and then lost by the Pakistanis; Leh could have been captured by the invaders from Pakistan but was not, and was then stoutly defended.
I would like details of Gilgit during 1928 -1932 as sometime during this period my grandfather Hira Singh Jamwal was wazir wazarat/Revenue Officer and my father was born there in 1930. I would like to visit with my father.
Riju raj Jamwal
Good conversation and arguments, please see below the research work done by Col Nadir Hassan the son of Late Col Mirza Hassan Khan (Hero of war of libation Gilgit Baltistan)
BOLOR (GILGIT-BALTISTAN) DUET AND DUEL IN KASHMIR EPITOME After all! There is twilight in forlorn Bolor and a light at the end of Kashmir’s Labyrinthed tunnel. The enormity of cobwebed dispute demands an indepth understanding and sharp mellowness. The epilepsy of a complete bigotedly sectarianised; so called Jehad in Kashmir, finally compelled the hero of Kargil episode to spell out the Kashmir epiphany. It is a crystal clear fact that the political regions connected with Kashmir dispute are Kargil (Purig)-Laddakh, Kashmir, Jammu,Bolor (Gilgit-Baltistan), Pakistani controlled Kashmir, the regions in China’s control i.e. Aksai Chin (wrested due to India’s folly)and areas intentionally ceded to China by Pakistan and finally the Bolor areas of Kohistan and Chitral ceded to NWFP province of Pakistan, as well as Taghdumbash Pamir ceded to Afghanistan by the superimposed British rulers of Kashmir. These areas after the exit of British; at the dying moments of the State of Kashmir or in other words birth of Kashmir dispute were politically rightly divided into three provinces i.e. Gilgit, unfortunately known as Northern Areas or Frontier regions of the State of J&K under Governor Brig Ghansar Singh, Kashmir with capital Sirinagar and Jammu with Capital Jammu. These regions are presently in four, with two each, political administrative control units of India and Pakistan. Kargil-Laddakh (Hill council with self rule), J&K State (Legislative Assembly and self rule), Northern Areas (cosmetic council without self rule) and AK (Legislative Assembly with self rule). The regions under China’s control are only required for friendly passages. The religion or sectarian based geographically political divisional confines of the countries connected with Kashmir dispute are humanly abhorrent, loathsome and impracticable. There is a sprinkling and pocketing of sects and religions everywhere in the former State. What about the yet unsettled sectarian migrations in Gilgit-Baltistan, as a result of State orchestrated onslaughts, especially in 1988? The resulting chain reaction as a consequence of this type of notion should be simply shrugged off. The brainchild of constructing a sectarian aqueduct of Kargil is unrealistic. Why they forget the totally negative consequences of Wahabi Jehad in Kashmir? Bolor, since times immemorial has preserved its unique identity. It was and is never an integral part of any neighbouring country. The West Pakistanis in 1947-49, cemented us with Kashmir dispute by sabotaging our 1 Nov 1947 Govt on sectarian grounds on behest of Imperialist powers dominating West Pakistan. Maharaja Kashmir’s governance was thousand times better than the Muslim West Pakistani and the Pathan-Punjabi ruinous rule. We want to have positive interaction with neighbours but on proper terms and conditions as designed by our elders through formulation of our internationally and UN recognized Govt of 1 Nov 1947. Demilitarisation in inbuilt in UNCIP on Kashmir dispute resolutions. The people of Bolor fought and won much more than the complete area of their ancient country, Northern Areas Province of the State of J&K and proposed; first to be dimilitarised, Northern Province of the former State liberated from the Dogra, English and Indian forces themselves in the fourteen months war of Liberation in 1947-48. When the uncouthed and uncalled alien forces and masters came into the arena, Bolor shrinked from two third of the total area of the State of J&K to present one third. Jinx started and it got all possible Unislamic treatment in the name of Islam. These peace time Napoleons made it Northern Areas through the bluff of Islam, Pakistan and jehad e Kashmir. This has remained the most unfortunate and worst colonized treated regions, out of all regions connected with Kashmir dispute. Vast Bolor areas were shamelessly lost, vigorous efforts were and are being made to change its political history and identity. Hundreds have been killed as a result of State sponsored terrorism and sectarianism. In actual fact fanning and sponsoring sectarianism is the only and lonely policy objective of colonial masters to maintain status quo. There is not a single word about Bolor in the constitution of Pakistan, but all pungent and ugly laws are the first to be implemented here in the real sense of the term but all privileges and rights are absent. There has never been a General, Minister, Ambassador, Governor, Secretary, Member National Assembly, Senator, Police Chief, Head of Communications and development works for the last 57 years. If there are any low level stooge appointments, they are glaringly sectarian oriented. All jobs civil, military of various shades are meant for Punjabis and Pathans The schools are closed for the last over five months and school going children have been jailed. All top bureaucratic civil and military posts are always filled up from Pakistani Punjabi, Pathan and Urdu speaking class. Sham elections are wrapped up fraudlently and is a deceptive meaningless exercise. People are fragmented on ethnic, sectarian and regional lines to evade unity. The immense wealth of Bolor in the form of border trade, water resources, tourism, natural resources etc are looted unabashed. Poverty development is the order of the day to tighten colonial control through loaning and appropriate well timed checking. Close to two hundred persons have sedition charges against the State. Section 144 is always there besides curfew and show of power patrolling by outside forces. There is no base whatsoever of any legal system there, simply because presence of Pakistan’s colonial system there is totally illegal. There is no shred of any proof of request for accession or acceptance from / by Govt of Gilgit-Baltistan of 1 Nov 1947, Govt of Pakistan or Govt of Azad Kashmir. Military monitors each and every aspect of life and squeezes the local interests in trade with China. Intelligence agencies are so many and so deep that nobody trusts any other person. Press has been made fully subservient as their bread and butter is with intelligence agencies. The Non Commissioned officers, Junior Commissioned Officers, constables, inspectors and captains / Majors of intelligence agencies think themselves to be the God appointed Lords, what to talk of arrogant higher ups. Afterall the Punjabis who have never ruled in their history have found a colonial paradise. The Punjabi and Pathan well off want to only go there for tourism. Ironically, Kashmala Tariq was given full honour on K-2 –Nanga Parbat celebrations in Skardu and the numerous poor summiteers of these peaks were not even made to sit on chairs. It is a shameful affair and changing status is imperative. The scenario will be changed afterall. Presently jailed political leader Ghulam Shehzad Agha languishing in Skardu Jail and the courage of Manzoor Hussain Parwana is going to bear fruit in near future. MIRZA NADIR HASSAN GILGIT- 9th Nov 2004.
Share peace dividends with Kashmiris.
The skepticism about the success of dialogues has always been there irrespective of conventional claims of both sides to keep continuing dialogues and vow to overcome the fundamental difference on the core issue. Perhaps one needn’t much thinking about the outcome of the dialogues as both sides have not come out of their entrenched positions, and composition of forces those control power in Islamabad remains the same, and dynamics of the conflict has not changed either. The resolution of conflict theory between India and Pakistan perhaps is not going to work either way since it doesn’t concur with the military establishment political interests in Pakistan. The resolution theory is long process where all parties to the conflict willing to make compromises and sacrifices in the larger interest of peace. While conflict management or prevention theory help the mindset in both countries where, when they need to revive the hostilities for domestic political reasons can just turn the switch of old blames games on. The expectations with changing global and regional political scenario that may had forced both countries to rethink, review and revisit to their positions to resolve the issue in the larger interests of region, appears to have failed as well. And presumptions that the growing US power and its campaign against the extremism and terrorism, which had put Pakistani rulers in odd position due to their support to extremism and fundamentalism in the country that still presents threat to stability and security of the region, may marginalize them appears to be misleading. And other assumption that growing Indian economy and its regional and global ambitions may invoke rethinking in the Indian establishment to sort out differences with its neighbours to pursue its greater agenda as currently this thinking has forced both China and India to adopt flexible approach to solve their longstanding dispute’ still failed to make any headway especially in Pakistan.
But hopes and optimism appears to be dwindling as US’s own growing regional crisis has forced it to put behind its publically expressed philosophy of promoting democratic values around the world by rooting out extremism, authoritarian and monarchies but instead to pursue its agenda its reliance have ultimately increased on the dictators and monarchs by being generous in praising them irrespective of their political legitimacy and human rights record. The US growing regional crisis have provided political room to Pakistani ruler to maneuver domestically on democratic and human rights issues, and externally on Kashmir with India. Although they have initiated dialogues under US pressure and still maintain ceasefire not to ease the sufferings of people live along the borders rather ceasefire aimed to free Pakistan’s military from Indian borders to make full use of them on the western border where Taliban and Al-Quaeda recruits are hiding in NWFP, and posing threat to the stability in Afghanistan. But despite US’s pressure, immunity has been granted to Mushraf to make rhetoric’s on Kashmir for political consumption when he faces domestic political crisis by breaking promises internally and externally. As Pakistan’s rhetoric’s continues on Kashmir but US officials time to time express their symbolic concern about the ongoing violence and cross-border infiltration to keep India in good humour too. But most of such statements are political than seeking any genuine political change on the ground to end of violence. On the other hand they praise Mushrraf to exonerate him domestically from political crisis to extract maximum co-operation against the terrorism and Taliban.
The question of peace with India is largely linked with military mindset in Pakistan and its future designs if military establishment in Pakistan accepts constitutional rule and relinquish its political ambitions to rule the country may pave the way for any real progress.
As there is consensus among all political observers that Kashmir conflict is a complex problem, which may require enough time frame to build the confidence through series of confidence building measures that ultimately can lead to the final settlement of conflict. The political and institutional wisdom demands to encourage the social and cultural interactions across the LOC in order to overcome the decades of hatred and propaganda.
In this regard positive development in last 56 years is that India has offered to liberalize the borders, and is in favour of broadening the social, cultural and economical interactions not only between the citizens of India and Pakistan but also among the Kashmiri’s those distributed under three different administrations. Because prior to this there has been practice not to share the peace benefits with the real victims of conflict Kashmiri’s and process remained strictly between citizen of India and Pakistan. However, proposal has received overwhelming welcome from all Kashmiri’s and international community, and political realism and optimism had replaced the skepticism first time in last five decades to make any genuine progress on the issue by allowing social and cultural interaction of divided people and families across the LOC. But regretfully proposal got cold response from the Islamabad, who is raising now technical aspects to thwart any progress on bus service. The skepticism about opposing the proposal by Islamabad rulers though had already been expressed by many Kashmiri political leaders- as proposal was real shift in Indian approach but its ultimate results of greater cooperation and peace perhaps does not suit the military establishment in Pakistan. The reason to oppose the proposal is the fear of losing political enemy that can result into forcing the military establishment to stay in their jurisdiction. Because since partition the military record and mindset is witness that army has always politicized Indian threat to legitimize every its act of capturing unconstitutionally political power.
As there are number of living instances around the world where despite the territorial disputes, barriers and restrictions have not been imposed on the people’s social and cultural interaction except in Kashmir. The restrictions and barriers hardly affect the political destiny if social and cultural interaction exists. And if we go further such instances exist even between India and Pakistan where despite their rivalry their own citizens are exempted from such restrictions and barriers but restrictions are effective only for Kashmiri’s.
The recent foreign ministers meetings at New Delhi is another example of there Insensitivity about the Kashmiri’s sufferings and pains when they despite their disagreement over Kashmir issue both sides have agreed to continue CBMs which they again decided to confine only to the citizens of India and Pakistan. The only and lonely proposal regarding Srinagar and Muzaffarabad bus service once again has been dropped by Pakistan. Now that India is willing to liberalize the borders but Pakistan is raising the technicalities to frustrate its implementation. For Last 56 years Pakistan military’s thrust on Kashmir has cost Pakistan, Kashmiri’s and region dearly by turning country into military empire, and has been breeding extremists and fundamentalists domestically to undermine the democratic forces, while unleashed and sponsored them into neighboring countries to fortify the military empire in the disguise of Kashmir conflict and Afghanistan. The military sustained political campaign against the democratic leadership to discredit them and opposed every their efforts to improve relations with India by characterizing them as disloyal to the country and selling-out Kashmir to India. But now military regime feels no harm to bargain its national honor when question of its own political interests come first, and they compromise everything only to cling to power irrespective of its political consequences. As they felt no harm and stooped so low to get Mr.Vajpaee agree to attend the SAARC conference after having him assured that Kashmir issue would not be raised from SAARC platform, and agreed that dialogues would be composite where emphasis would not be placed on any single issue, and allowed them to bring their own security personals to provide security to Mr.Vajpayee. But when Vajpayee himself had traveled to Lahore to seek an agreement only on Kashmir and had given Kashmir distinctive character in Lahore Agreement, then Mr.Mushraf’s honour was standing higher then his country and felt insult to accompany then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to receive Indian Prime Minister, and blamed him to sell-out Kashmir. The dialogues appear not to aim to achieve any real progress on the issue except to release US pressure and buying time. If the objective of dialogues was to create conducive conditions and concessions for Kashmiris then Islamabad had not activated its proxy politicians to campaign against the bus service and people to people interaction.
The question is that what Pakistan or its proxy Kashmiri politicians are trying to project that obtaining visa can permanent the division and will change the status of conflict having agreed on Bus Service to justify its opposition to bus service. The interpretation appears absurd being advanced by Islamabad in its defense. As treaties have often failed to force the parties to stick their commitment when domestic political priorities or vested political interests dictate them to act contrary to the agreements they didn’t hesitate to violate them. If in last 56 years Kashmir and Kashmiri’s status has not changed despite being citizen of Pakistan and India, holding their passports and traveling across the disputed territory by obtaining visa from India and Pakistan, how just using different points of exit and entry can change the status of conflict? We are witness to the UNCIP resolutions to which every one of us refers everyday but failed to invoke any response from UN or international community when potential global player’s interests lack or drift.
If Simla agreement failed to resolve the conflict or stop Pakistan despite its formal ratification and acceptance by Pakistan government that it shall not raise the issue on any multilateral forum or to attempt to change border unilaterally but all is happening despite that. If General Mushraf can scrap Lahore declaration when he is overwhelmed by his political desire to seize the power, how bus Service can permanent the border. If Kashmiri’s had never traveled on visa to each other parts might make sense those oppose now. Any initiative may yield tomorrow into greater step forward and ultimate resolution of conflict.
We have many instances of old enemies are today’s partner as in Europe where Germany and France used to be arch rivals for decades but they are not only partner in European union but also share common view on many international issues. Few years back European Union (EU) co-operation was limited and many of its citizens had to obtain the visas but now that condition has been removed but it didn’t happen in overnight. Similarly in North America between Canada and USA there was no visa requirement for all residents, though citizens are still exempted but after the terrorist attack and looming threat has forced them to change the laws.
While on the other hand Hong Kong is part of China despite being under Chinese control but Chinese from mainland despite being same national required visa to travel Hong Kong. Taiwan is internationally accepted Chinese part but they cannot travel unless they obtain visa. This is not strange between nations especially where disputes exist and what Islamabad is trying project to reject the Indian offer of bus service and using its proxy Kashmiri politicians to validate its stance.
One cannot rule out the inevitability that India and Pakistan eventually may have to be partner tomorrow not only in dialogues but also in economics, politics and culture if they had to meet the growing global and regional challenges. And if they continue to breed the hostilities and rivalries may invite territorial defragmentation and economic bankruptcy. Pakistan due to its military regimes policies have witnessed territorial defragmentation and was about to economic bankruptcy prior to the 9/11,that absolved it from the brink of that economic bankruptcy. But miracle won’t happen every time to rescue it if lesson from the past was not accorded to correct the policies and behave as responsible nation and state.
However, proxy politics has been common feature of Kashmiri politics, which is widely practiced by both New Delhi and Islamabad. And owing to the military’s rule in Islamabad proxy politics and politicians has been only means of military establishment to create political situation suit them to seize power. And in this struggle over power Islamabad’s agencies have not spared its own controlled territories and politicians to play them against each other in order to ensure their firm control on them whether they are in its controlled Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan or proxy Harrat conferences in the valley. They have created breed of politicians from the migrated Kashmiri’s settled in Pakistan and contest elections on refugee’s reserved seats, as pre-emptive strategy against any unfavorable political development at Muzaffarabad. These most of the migrated Kashmiri politicians have been tool in the hands of agencies in Pakistan to change the political configuration in Muzaffarabad if need so. The migrated Kashmiris who lost their connection with their land and chose Pakistan by choice or forcibly their final destiny feel no harms to be stooge of agencies to win their blessings. But migrated Kashmiri’s role becoming controversial among the local people as recently many people have expressed their reservations against the Shah Ghulam Qadir who according to them is playing agencies game against the Sikandar Hayat government to destabilize and aspire for PM. But there are number of migrated Kashmiri’s like Sana ullah Bhat, Dr.Syed Nazir Gilani and many others who have denied to compromise on their identity and had to go through another migration and faced hardships.
The all speculations about the success of dialogues are uncertain and ambiguous as had been in the past. This presumption that military in Pakistan is in position to make any deal with India is not convincing since resolution of the conflict or permanent friendship with India can be counterproductive to military’s political interests. Second Mushraf though presently represents military not because he enjoys military’s full support rather because he is in the uniform and holds power but fact is that he is more interested to secure and prolong his rule than peace. Every his pro-peace rhetoric is aimed at to buy time. But it is yet to be determined how military institution would react if Musharraf enters into any serious deal with India and all depends either any such deal poses threat to the military’s domestic political ambitions to rule the country or not. Musharaf has two choices either he can promote peace or military’s interests, but both cannot go together. The other question on arises whether any peace deal if reached can close the prospects of not to derail what had been done with Lahore Agreement by military. Despite the fact US appeared to be more serious and eager to promote democracy that time, and any military intervention could have fear of reprisals but military didn’t hesitate to bring coup against Nawaz Sharif.
The other point is that what both sides have to offer each other as status quo which, is continuously believed to be source of rivalry but can change in status quo ensure the end of hostilities? Many such questions and answers yet to be answered if process succeeds to move forward and enters into to the serious phase of negotiations, which is yet a distant dream. The opening of borders and bus service will determine the seriousness of Islamabad in dialogues.
The two recent meetings, first foreign ministers and second Mushraf and Manmohan Singh’s did not generate much optimism except to repeat conventional statements that dialogues would be carried forward. There is no doubt that current US pressure especially on Pakistan, and Mushraf’s domestic and personal political weaknesses forces him to make pro-peace rhetoric just to soften and build his image in the outside world as moderate who is sincere to normalize the relations with India. But all depends if people are allowed to live normal without violence and to interact with each other irrespective what modalities are.
The post US elections scenario will equally be important in shaping up future political landscape of South Asian region, and between India and Pakistan. In the present situation bus service and softening borders can offer Kashmiri’s some sense of achievement but again it is to decided that both sides buying time or sincerely wish to share the peace dividends with Kashmiris or want to restrict to their own citizens again.
The real issue here is 1) of territory and 2) of who had the lawful possession of Gilgit Agency at that time. As a result of the premature expiry of the lease of Gilgit in July-August1947 the area automatically and legally, fell back to the sovereignty of the Maharaja and no other party or handful of local administrators had any authority to rebel against or disobey the Maharaja or his newly appointed local administrator Ghansara Singh. I am outraged to find here that the individuals like Major Brown and his co-conspirators who should have been held accountable and severely punished for robbery of this territory got way with official awards and praises.
I salute Dr Subroto Roy for putting history into perspective in his article on the history of Gilgit.
The search engine above should locate any article by its title; the Index and Archives may be used as well.
Readers are welcome to quote from my work under the normal “fair use” rule, but please try to quote me by name and indicate the place of original publication in case of work being republished here. I am at Twitter @subyroy, see my latest tweets above