In 1211 when Delhi was under Muslim rulers, Kashmir was Hindu. After 1320 till 1753, Kashmir was ruled by other Mughal-Afghan dynasties. During that time Kashmir converted to Islam. In the 19th century, it was ruled by Sikhs and later the British.
Like in 1867, U.S, purchases ‘Russian America’ for 7.2 million dollars from Russia and renamed it Alaska. Similarly, the sale of Kashmir, Chamb, Ladakh, Jammu and Baltistan (“their fields, crops, streams, even the peasants…”) by East India Company in March 1846, for Rs 75 lakh (payed in 4 installments), to their loyal but ambitious Dog Dogra king, Gulab Singh, the ruler of Jammu.
Gulab Singh believed in ‘object lessons’. Kishore Singh, his father trained him in a “hard school, where lying, intrigue, and treachery were all considered part and parcel of politics.” Chilling accounts exist about his governance, exploitation and cruelty. Exploitation was so massive that people stopped working. Ruthless Gulab Singh, however, was scared of the Europeans.
Unlike his predecessors Hari Singh was Kashmiri speaking and Western educated with a very good exposure to the world. He abolished purdah, abolished untouchability, abolished child marriage, abolished forced labour, abolished prostitution, allowed Hindu widows to re-marry and made primary education compulsory in the state. He increased penalty for abducting Kashmiri women from 3 to 7 years imprisonment, plus the lashes. He allowed debtors to seek judicial intervention in settling cases of usury with money lenders and creditors.
Historians think no prince in Indian subcontinent could match his lavish life style. He had a silver-plated airplane, Versailles-sized palaces and lot of money and slaves. To ensure his kingdom survives Singh did everything from massacres to arrests and taxes. And he died of cardiac arrest in April 1961 in Mumbai.
Sheikh Abdullah said in 1967, that what the Indian Congress had offered, with its its promise of decentralised , federal India, based upon ethnic accommodation. This is what Pakistan was not prepared to offer. A letter written to Jinnah by his secretary, Khursheed Husain, from Srinagar in 1945 made this crystal clear, for in it he advised Jinnah not to accept the J&K Muslim Conference’s offer to join the Muslim League because the Kashmiris practiced ‘a strange form of Islam, worshiping saints and relics, that drove a coach and four through all the tenets that orthodox Muslims considered most sacred’. Kashmiris, he concluded, would need ‘a long period of re-education’ before they became fit to be included in the ranks of true Muslims. It is the re-education that a shepherd voted when he misguided Pakistani infiltrators who entered Kashmir in 1965, and cycled all the way to Srinagar to warn the police. It was the reason why Sheikh Abbdullah fully supported the Maharaja’s accession to India. In 2009, a Chatham House survey of the 4 most districts of the valley showed that while 75% said they wanted independence but only 2% said they wanted to secede to Pakistan.
When the British colonizers made an exit following the second World War, the vast swath of Indian sub-continent got divided into two parts: The secular India and the Muslim-dominated Pakistan. The region of Kashmir, a predominant Muslim territory ruled by a Hindu provincial ruler, was left in a case of ambiguity.
In a letter Shastri explained as to why India agreed to a plebiscite in Kashmir in 1948 and this is no longer an option.
“The reason why, when in 1947, we first went to the Security Council with a complaint of aggression against Pakistan, we made a unilateral promise of having a plebiscite in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, was that, at that time, the State had no democracy, having been under the rule of a prince in the British days, and we were anxious ourselves to be satisfied that the people, as distinct from the ruler, genuinely favoured accession to India,” Shastri wrote, according to a copy of the letter released by U.S. State Department.
“Ever since the accession of the State, we have been building up democratic institutions. There have been three general elections in conditions of freedom. The results of these elections have demonstrated clearly that the people of Jammu & Kashmir have accepted their place in the Indian Union.
Pakistan, despite its obsession with Kashmir, maintained the ceasefire for over 16 years (1949 to 1965) was due to two factors: India had a strong and stable government under a towering leader and the western front, unlike the eastern border, was well fortified. Jawaharlal Nehru died in May 1964 and by the end of the year Pakistan had finalised plans to seize Kashmir by force. The defeat of the Indian Army by the Chinese in 1962 and Nehru’s death had given the Pakistanis the erroneous impression that India was vulnerable. Borders remained volatile all through out the 1950s and 60s.
Much less is known of the battle of Rann of Kutch which was conceived by the Pakistani military as a “trial run” before launching a full-scale war to annexe Kashmir. Early in January 1965, Ayub Khan, who had assumed power following a coup in 1958, had legitimised his rule and was in full command as President of Pakistan. He chose the Rann of Kutch as the area for the Pakistan Army’s “trial operation” against India. He raised a claim of about 3,500 square miles of territory in this area which, according to his foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was in the “adverse possession” of India.
In January 1965, an Indian police patrol noticed that an 18-mile long track, running within the Indian territory and connecting Ding (in Pakistan) with Surai (in India), was being patrolled by Pakistanis border guards on the plea that it lay within the Pakistani side of the border. The Indian police expelled the Pakistani guards and destroyed the outposts they had erected to secure the area. A further incident of violation of Indian territory by Pakistani patrols took place in February 1965. When the Indian government lodged a protest, the Pakistan foreign office denied any such violation and claimed that the area in proximity to Kanjarkot had been in the continued possession of Pakistan since August 1947.
On April 24, Pakistan simultaneously attacked four Indian positions — Sardar Post, Biar Bet, Vigokot and Point84 — using Patton tanks and 100-pound guns for the first time. Fierce fighting continued till April 30, when Indian Army artillery caused heavy damage to Pakistani ammunition dumps. The Pakistani attack faded away. At the end of this week-long fierce engagement, India was still in possession of Sardar Post, Vigokot and the southern tip of Biar Bet, but had lost its hold on Point84. Pakistan then made a proposal for talks, but India insisted on the vacation of Kanjarkot by the occupying Pakistani forces before any talks could be held. Rawalpindi would not agree to the vacation of Kanjarkot and no talks were therefore held. After an immense amount of diplomatic activity, Wilson succeeded and a ceasefire became effective on July 1, 1965. As a part of this arrangement the status quo ante as on January 1, 1965, was fully restored.
Paradoxically, even Ayub did not want to intensify the Rann of Kutch conflict. He had launched that operation because he wanted to give his troops and armour, the newly acquired American Patton tanks, a full dress rehearsal to prepare them for a full-scale invasion of India, first in Kashmir and immediately thereafter Punjab. He also wanted to assess the will and capability of Indian soldiers to fight a war. Pakistan (having technologically superior U.S.-made fighters) became confident that IAF will not be used in the war as happened in the 1962 India-China War, since with IAF involvement, the conflict will escalate to a full-fledged war. By the end of May 1965, the Pakistanis seemed to have completed their “trial run” to their apparent satisfaction. Military historian Russel Brines writes, “Ayub and the Pakistani military top brass drew self-comforting and encouraging conclusions from the Rann of Kutch conflict.” Emboldened by his Army’s adventure, Ayub Khan authorised a covert invasion of Kashmir that would escalate into a full-scale war with far-reaching consequences for India-Pakistan relations.
In 1965, Pakistan under the leadership of General Ayub Khan launched an aggressive attack on India. The war began on August 5 following the initiation of Operation Gibraltar, a strategically planned infiltration in Kashmir valley by Pakistan troops. More than 50,000 armed Pakistani soldiers entered in Kashmir disguised as locals. The rationale behind the move was to create a scenario of insurgency within the valley and cut-it-off from the rest of India. Pakistani troops were successful in making in-roads in various sectors of Kashmir owing to the heavy artillery they were equipped by United States and United Kingdom, in the Cold War era. On the other hand, India was yet recovering with the devastation suffered in Indo-Sino War (1962). However, General J N Chowdhary made a strategically wise decision to attack Pakistan on the western frontier. Punjab’s battles are restricted by the river corridors. Pakistan had the option to swing south from Khem Karan or go east into uncontested territory but the presence of the River Sutlej forced it to advance along the grain towards the Beas Bridge. Despite, maintaining a strong grip in Kashmir, Islamabad was forced to divert its resources towards its southern frontiers. As Pakistan was fast running out of ammunition, US feared that any delay in ceasefire would put Pakistan at a disadvantage position and could be very well run over by a strong Indian Army, which was moving fast inside the Pakistan side of Punjab. PM Lal Bahadur Shastri surprised many with his wartime leadership that saw Indian troops cross into Pakistani territory, bringing to naught Pakistan’s second attempt to snatch Kashmir by force.
US President Lyndon Johnson, who chaired a special meeting the following day on the subject, gave instructions to “sit it out”. One of the reasons for United State’s coyness to act against Pakistan was described, in the declassified cables revealed was because of the U2 spy plane base in Peshawar, Pakistan. The air force station run by the CIA remained at that time the only authentic source of spy-in-the-sky information on Soviet and Chinese missile plans, even after U2 planes were shot down in 1960. Spy satellites had not been fully developed as yet. With increased Soviet pressure, Pakistan formally terminated the Peshawar facilities in 1968.
The turning point of the battle was the capture of Haji Pir Pass by the Indian troops on August 28. As a result, Pakistani troops stationed in Kargil and other important junctions were cut-off from the supplies sent to them. In a desperate mode, Pakistan launched ‘Operation Grand Slam’ to occupy the Akhnoor sector in Jammu. However, Indian army curtailed their ambitious mission in a relatively easy manner. In the next couple of days, the Pakistani troops were eliminated from Poonch, Phillora, Barki and Dograi.
Intelligence and maps was very poor. India failed to pick up the fact that the Pakistanis had surreptitiously raised an additional armoured division and the IAF could not locate the PAF aircraft in East Pakistan. There was no joint planning, leave alone coordination, between the Air Force and the Army. This led to the Lahore fiasco when Pakistani air strikes disrupted the Indian offensive on September 6. The IAF was unprepared for the strike on September 6 when the Pakistan air force (PAF) destroyed 13 aircrafts in a raid on Pathankot, including two new MiG-21s. Similar raids found the IAF station Kalaikunda in the east unawares leading to the destruction of eight aircraft on the ground. MiG-21s had recently been inducted and were not yet night capable for interception. Night flying of Gnat aircraft was limited due to poor cockpit lighting. The night fighter Vampires were already obsolete.
On September 6, XI Corps launched a surprise attack at 4am, led to the crossing of the Ichhogil canal and the capture of the Bata shoe factory on the outskirts of Lahore by 11am. Despite capturing some 140 sq mi of land, and crippling Pakistan’s 1st armoured division at Khem Karan, XI Corps performance, Singh says it was “a sickening repetition of command failures leading the sacrifice of a series of cheap victories.” Senior commanders ordered a withdrawal to the east bank of the canal. I Corps captured 200 sq mi of territory and destroyed a great deal of Pakistani armour.
The month-long battle finally came to a halt with intervention from United Nation Security Council. Both sides claim to have won the war, but international defence experts found India in a stronger position. On September 22 , UN passed a resolution demanding an unconditional ceasefire from both sides. Russia was placed in charge to hold mediation talks between the warring neighbours.
In 1965 war, Indian Army had captured the strategic Haji Pir Pass. During the Tashkent talks between Indian and Pakistan, held through the good offices of Soviet Union, India agreed to return Haji Pir Pass, Pt 13620 which dominated Kargil town and many other tactically important areas. Had this pass been held by us, the distance from Jammu to Srinagar through Poonch and Uri would have been reduced by over 200 Kms. Also, later on when Pak commenced its infiltration into J & K in 1965 through the Uri – Poonch Bulge which continues even today.
Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri wanted to know from Army chief JN Chaudhuri whether India could gain any great victory if it continued to fight. The general declared that India had run out of ammunition and it would be okay to accept the ceasefire.
To add mystery to the whole process, Prime Minister Shastri died on 10th January, 1966 after signing the Tashkent Declaration with President Ayub Khan of Pakistan. He was denounced by all and sundry for caving in to the Russian pressure. But in hindsight, India was remiss in not capturing Haji Pir Pass in 1971 war. It was the only worthwhile objective on the Western Front.
As the Bengali East was treated like second class citizens and their common religion could not make them feel any less alienated by distance, customs and temperament. radical nationalist Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was no Nehru or Mahatma. In her patriotism, she used India's secret intelligence agency (that's modeled on Israel's external intelligence agency) to run a proxy war (since in July, General Manekshaw told Indira that the army would not be ready till December) by equipping & training the West Pakistan rebels (Mukti Bahini) during a time when the West Pakistan was using its own army to crush the mass agitations taking place in East Pakistan (India accepted one of the largest number of refugees) and the brutality made Bangladeshis bring intelligence to the Indian side without Indian planning to do so (it is said that the Indian officials thought of it as dream situation that presented itself and had to be taken advantage of). Pakistan retaliated by attacking in the West frontier but due to the snowy winter season China could not provide much help and since the U.S. was locked in a bitter fight in Vietnam, it too didn't want to get involved (Soviets had made a pact to help India if invaded). The war ended with Pakistan's defeat in the hand of India's now well-equipped armed forces in the familiar terrain of Punjab and with the creation of Bangladesh in the East.
Indira is credited to have given a land known for hundreds of years as suffers of invasion (most recently by the Chinese) got the taste of victory and gave the nation & its armed forces a sense of pride. Within 13 days, the Indian army routed Pakistan in one of the swiftest campaigns of the 20th century. However, Assam is dealing with the consequences and thought tactically the creation of Bangladesh has been good for the nation (because now the politicians could return to social development... which resulted in the ugly "Emergency" where Indira virtually turned into the World's first female dictator) remains to be seen. can the paranoid Pakistan ever forget their defeat and, ironically, Bangladesh has not become a stable nation and is crippled by extreme challenges of poverty, over population, etc making it a safe heaven for some of India's north-eastern insurgencies.
India took approximately 90,000 prisoners of war, including Pakistani soldiers and their East Pakistani civilian supporters. 79,676 prisoners were uniformed personnel, of which 55,692 were Army, 16,354 Paramilitary, 5,296 Police, 1,000 Navy and 800 PAF. The remaining prisoners were civilians – either family members of the military personnel or collaborators.
A total of 1,313 Indian soldiers won gallantry awards in the 1971 war. These included 959 from the Army, 171 from the Navy and 183 Air Force personnel. Four of these were Param Vir Chakra winners - three going to the Army and one to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Hari Singh, the last Maharaja of Kashmir did not opt for India or Pakistan. He decided to remain independent. On 12th August 1947 he sent a telegram to the heads of India and Pakistan asking for the existing arrangements between the Kashmir state and British India (now India and Pakistan) to continue. While Pakistan accepted the offer, India asked for further time to cosnider.
As alluded above there are contested claims about the invasion in Kashmir and what drove the Indian and Pakistani civil militants of Jan Sang and tribal groups, followed by regular armies, to attack the state. Pakistan claims that the Muslim population revolted against the Maharaja and the tribal groups went to help their endangered Muslim brethren.
India, however, argues that the Kashmiri ruler invited India to help against the invaders, which was provided only after Hari Singh signed an accession document. India also claims that on the basis of this document, Kashmir became an integral part of the Indian Union. This claims is then blended into Indian official discourse through politicized myths, heritage and history which ‘proves’ that Kashmir has always been a natural – and hence integral – part and the ‘crown of the secular body’ of India.
Pakistan, on the other hand, has primarily built its case on the ‘Two Nation Theory’ and UN resolutions. The Two Nation Theory was a term coined to mean the partition of the British India on the basis of Muslim majority areas becoming part of Pakistan. Since this principle was applicable solely and exclusively to the British India of which Kashmir was not a part in any sense of the word, the Pakistani claims on Kashmir on these bases have no legal status.
The first resolution by the UN Commission on 13th August 1948 recognised the unfettered right of Kashmiri citizens (the state subjects) to self-determination, including and with the right to independence. The UN resolution, passed on 13th August 1948, asks Pakistan to take all of her civilians and military personnel and non-resident Pakistanis out of Kashmir before India was to withdraw a bulk of her armies, after which Kashmiris will decide the future of the state through a plebiscite.
This plebiscite never happened. Pakistan claims that India did not withdraw her armies, whilst India argues that withdrawal of her armies was to follow the withdrawal of Pakistan’s armies, which never happened. However, gradually the Indian argument changed into a claim that after the accession by the Kashmiri Maharaja Hari Singh in 1947 and its ratification by the Kashmir Assembly, headed by the National Conference in 1949, Kashmir became an integral and inseparable part of India.
Why then did India take the Kashmir case to the UN and accept to withdraw its armies and hold a plebiscite for Kashmiris to decide the future of Kashmir? It can be argued that India took the case to UN in 1948 before the affirmation of accession by the Kashmir assembly, however, the question remains why India sat through and accepted so many resolutions discussed and passed after 1949. Some BJP activists dismiss the entire UN exercise as a blunder by the socialist Nehru.
The Majority of the people supporting the National Conference, on the one side, and the Muslim Conference, on the other – at least in the Indian occupied Valley and the Pakistani-occupied ‘Azad’ (Free) Kashmir – waited with great optimism for the International community to make Indian and Pakistani rulers fulfil their promise to give Kashmiris the right to determine their future. However, after clashes between the aspirations of Kashmiris for independence, and of the Indian and Pakistani rulers for accession, optimism began to give way to scepticism and resentment as early as 1953 when the Indian government deposed the head of Kashmiri Government in IOK (Sheikh Abdullah) and the Pakistani government did the same in POK (Sardar Ibrahim). While Pakistan imprisoned and tortured Bhatt and his comrades, and India executed him on 11th February 1984, the world remained almost indifferent to this largely peaceful resistance, with the Ganga Hijacking and killing of an Indian diplomat in Birmingham as two exceptions.
Both India and Pakistan are not in Kashmir to protect Kashmiris from the ‘other’ but for the resources of Kashmir – mainly water but also minerals and forests.
He would convince the Indian prime minister—notes historian Srinath Raghavan—“that a punitive settlement would only prepare the ground for further conflict in South Asia”. This explains why India did not leverage a stupendous military victory and the capture of 93,000 prisoners of war to settle the Kashmir dispute once and for all in its favour.
Even if India, learning from history, did not unilaterally impose the terms of the Simla Agreement, the leadership in Pakistan did not draw the lessons from the war which could lead to cessation of hostilities. In fact, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who took over power after the war, was actually interested in initiating a “1,000-year war” against India. He would commit Pakistan to the acquisition of nuclear weapons so as to prevent a repeat of the 1971 humiliation. This acquisition was supported actively by China and passively by the US.
In a famous 1999 essay titled “Give War A Chance” for the Foreign Affairs journal, Edward N. Luttwak had said: “…although war is a great evil, it does have a great virtue: it can resolve political conflicts and lead to peace.” For all its decisive ending with the dismemberment of the state of Pakistan, the 1971 war could not bring peace. The nuclear parity that the war led to has allowed Pakistan to engage in low-cost asymmetrical warfare while keeping another full-scale war at bay—many scholars don’t treat Kargil (1999) as a full-scale war. Such an artificial freezing of conflict—to use the words of Luttwak in a somewhat different context—“[perpetuates] a state of war indefinitely by shielding the weaker side from the consequences of refusing to make concessions for peace”.