Date: 2/25/2004


In the words of the great Indian author and thinker, late Shri Nirad C. Choudhuri, Partition of India took place because of "a combination of three factors - Hindu stupidity in the first instance and Hindu cowardice afterwards; British opportunism; and Muslim fanaticism." (Islam, Hindutva and Congress Quest, by Ram Gopal, p.200). The irony of fate is that both the British government and the Congress led by Gandhi, not the Muslim League, patronized Islamic fanaticism which ultimately resulted in complete Islamisation of one third of the Indian territory in 1947, a feat that even the most powerful and zealous Muslim king Aurangzeb could not perform. The Muslim League was formed in 1906, but it could not get even 25 per cent of Muslim votes up to the elections of 1937. Historians have paid scant regard to the causes which changed the situation so drastically that in the elections of 1945/46, the Muslim League won all the 30 Muslim seats of the Central Assembly and in the provincial assemblies, it won 427 out of 482 Muslim seats. The reasons were three. After the elections of 1937, the Muslim League adopted a fundamentalist Islamic agenda. Under it, the League got the Muslim Personal Law (Application of Shariat ) Act passed by the Central Assembly, of course, with the support of the Congress. Next, it passed the Pakistan resolution in March 1940. Both these measures brought the Muslim clergy around the Muslim League, headed by Jinnah. The World War II started in September 1939. Britain declared war against Germany and requested its colonies also to do the same. Accordingly, the Indian Viceroy also declared war on Germany. The Congress took strong objection to it, alleging that the Viceroy had dragged India into the war without consulting the elected representatives of the people who formed the government in accordance with the provisions of the Government of India Act 1935. On this very ground, the Congress resigned from all the 8 provinces where it had its elected governments. This action of the Congress antagonised the British. The Muslim League celebrated the event as "the day of deliverance". It promised all help to the British government in its efforts to wage war against Germany. To make the matters worse, Gandhi launched is "Quit India" movement in 1942 in the thick of World War II. This single act of Gandhi did the greatest damage to Hindu interest or the cause of a united India. Since the U.S.A. and most other European countries were also engaged in this war along with Britain, all of them started looking at Hindus as their enemies and Muslims as their friends. Those who believe that Gandhi's Quit India movement brought Independence to India are wrong. When Lord Mountbatten came to India in March 1947 to facilitate transfer of power to Indian hands as early as possible but not later than June 1948 (the dead line set by Britain to leave India), he had the mandate to do anything except antagonising !

Jinnah, the sole spokesman of Mohammedans. Within a fortnight, Mountbatten came to the conclusion that Partition of the country was inevitable. So, before leaving India, he had to secure British interests in Indian sub-continent. As Hindus had proved untrustworthy, Muslims were the only hope for the British.

Britain had high stakes in the northern part of J&K, which included Gilgit agency and Hunza. These areas provided (1) land route to a land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asian countries which abound in petroleum and natural gas. In 1935 itself, the British Govt.had forced J&K's Maharaja Hari Singh to let them have the Gilgit agency on a 60 year lease basis. It is the place where the boundaries of the erstwhile Soviet Russia, China and Afghanistan met. The British could not afford to let this area go to Hindu hands. So, soon after finalising the Partition plan, Lord Mountbatten started pressurising Maharaja Hari Singh to accede to Pakistan. He failed in this attempt. But, he got the opportunity to have his way when Pakistan sponsored Kabayalis attacked J&K and the Maharaja was forced to seek military assistance from India. He sent in his Instrument of Accession duly signed to Indian government in October 1947. In his capacity as the first Governor General of free India, Mountbatten accepted Maharaja's Instrument of Accession It was he who prevailed on Jawaharlal Nehru to refer the Kashmir question to the United Nations' Security Council.

Pakistan has been holding one third of J & K while India has two-thirds of it, but strategic importance of the Pakistan held Kashmir is far greater than the larger part on the Indian side. There has been lot of pressure on India to accept the LOC, the dividing line between India and Pakistan, as a permanent border. However, few people realise that, in doing so, India will not only be putting its seal of approval to Pakistani gains through aggression of 1947-48, but will also be boosting the morale of Islamic fundamentalists the world over. In addition, it will be the worst condemnation of India's own ages old stand and commendation of Pakistani stand throughout this period. It will be a dishonour to the martyrdom of thousands of Indian soldiers and officers in J & K. Think of its demoralizing effect on the Indian armed forces and all nationalists, besides leaving a permanent blot on India's credibility. Over and above, India will be permanently losing the entire northern region of J&K including Gilgit agency and Hunza, which provide land routes to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. Had this area been with India, India could have had long ago natural oil and gas pipelines from the oil rich Iran and central Asian countries. Also, she could help Afghanistan against the menace of Pakistan sponsored Taliban forces.

With the emergence of the U.S.A. as the global power, its interest in J&K, especially the part held by Pakistan (POK), has become more pronounced. Western support to Pakistan, through all thick and thin, is explained by this very strategic position of J&K. From this part of J&K, the US could keep a watch on the movements of the erstwhile USSR and Communist China. For this very reason, China too had an interest in that area. Thus, China too has been supporting Pakistan. Truly speaking, Pakistan's position in the matter of J&K was one of an aggressor, but the strategic interests of all these countries made it an essential party at par with India.

Now that the USSR is no more and Russia is an ally of the Western powers, the strategic position has drastically changed. In the post World War II scenario, Pakistan was perceived as a bulwark both against communism and the possibility of emergence of a fundamentalist anti West Islamic bloc of the Asian and Middle-East Muslim countries (greater than the Ottomon empire of the previous era). Thanks to Gandhi ji's "Quit India" movement during World War II, the Hindu India was perceived as a threat to British and American interests. In his book, "Facts are Facts", Wali Khan, the son of late Abdul Ghaffar Khan, (FrontierGandhi), has stated how a few months before the Partition, two senior officers of the USA had met Jinnah and how Jinnah assured them of Pakistan help against Communism. It is worth remembering here that, during the Indo Pak war of 1971, the United States did not mind breaking away of East Pakistan as Bangladesh, but could not tolerate Indian advance in the Western sector, namely J&K, and moved its 7th Fleet towards Bay of Bengal. Earlier, in the 1965 war, India was forced to give back the Haji Pir Pass (another strategic point in J&K) to Pakistan because the Western powers wanted it on Pakistan side for their own sake. It is aptly said that politics without history has no root and history without politics bears no fruit.

Pakistan is now seen as the champion of the globally growing Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism that has become a nightmare to the entire democratic world, especially the USA, India and Russia. On the other hand, India is perceived as a potential ally in the fight against Islamic terrorism. What India needs today is to convince the USA and, in fact, the whole world that it is (a) committed to root out Islamic fundamentalism, (2) stall any sort of expansionism, and (3) to remain content within its geographical boundaries, which had been disturbed by the unfortunate and unnatural partition imposed by the British for their own interests in the situation prevailing in 1947.It is a test of Indian diplomacy to convince the USA that in the matter of world peace and fight against terrorism, tyranny, racial or religious intolerance, India is more trustworthy than Pakistan. India can, this way, have the moral support of the democratic world to get back not only the lost territory of J&K, but hope to reunite Pakistan and Bangladesh to make an United India or Akhand Bharat once again to the benefit of all the nations living in the South Asian region. The hype created by Indo-Pak dialogue during the SAARC Summit in Islamabad in January 2004 is a temporary phase. It does not hold much hope for India.

It may be stated that the road to J&K's security goes through Rawalpindi and Muzaffarabad rather than through Kargil heights or Siachin Glaciers. That should be India's long term national goal. If we miss this point, we may have to surrender shortly the whole of Hindu India to Pakistan led and fed Islamic forces. Indian intelligentsia must understand this reality as early as possible. The Partition of 1947 was a very unfortunate and unnatural event. This must go. Otherwise, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh would continue fighting with one another and filling the coffers of the global powers through armament purchases all the time. India's claim on the whole of J&K is legally sound. In 1947, when J&K's Maharaja acceded to India, only the Kashmir Valley had 90 per cent Mohammedan population whereas in the rest of J&K, the Mohammedan population was just equal to non-Mohammedan population. In terms of area, the Kashmir Valley is very small as compared to the rest of J&K. There has been a sea change in J&K's demography since 1947 on both sides of the LOC making plebiscite meaningless. The question of plebiscite does not arise also because Pakistan did not fulfill its own obligation of first withdrawing from the POK. It is not correct to say that Kashmir is a matter for the Kashmiris alone. After its accession to India, it is a matter for the entire Indian nation. A contrary view would mean that J&K is another State within the State of the Indian Union.

(Ram Gopal)