Letter to the Editor: Response to '45 Years Later: Are India and Pakistan ready for war?'

This is with reference to the article “45 Years Later: Are India and Pakistan ready for war?” by Gulrukh Haroon, published in the opinion section of The Daily Campus today.

I understand that this is not a news item and The Daily Campus may not bear any responsibility for the content of the article. That said, the article is grossly misrepresenting the historical facts surrounding the “dispute” over Kashmir, and I’d like to put the corrections on record.

Let’s start with the first sentence of the fifth paragraph of the article. “Currently, Kashmir is divided into two regions: Azad Kashmir, the land owned by Pakistan, and Jammu and Kashmir, the land occupied by India.”

British India, as it existed prior to August 1947, had a number of “princely states”. The hereditary rulers of these states were bound by the terms of their treaties with the British Crown, but handled the internal affairs of the territories over which they had jurisdiction with input from a representative of the Crown, commonly known as the “Resident”. Jammu and Kashmir was one such principality in British India and Maharaja Hari Singh was the ruler of that principality in August of 1947.

Article 2 (4) of The Indian Independence Act 1947 of the British parliament provided for the termination of British paramountcy over the princely states with effect from 15 August 1947, and recognized the right of the states to choose whether to accede to India or to Pakistan or to remain outside them.

In the fall of 1947, tribal invaders (possibly with the backing of the Pakistani Army) started moving into the territories under the jurisdiction of Maharaja Hari Singh. Unable to defend his territories against this invasion, Maharaja Hari Singh signed an Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India on October 26, 1947, which was accepted by Lord Mountbatten of Burma, the then Governor General of India, on October 27, 1947, following which the Indian Army moved in to push back the invaders.

Before the Indian Army could wrest back the control of the entire territory under the jurisdiction of Maharaja Hari Singh, which, by virtue of the aforesaid instrument of accession was now an integral part of the Dominion of India, the United Nations intervened and a resolution was passed by the United Nations on August 13, 1948 that broadly outlined a fair and equitable process for determining the future of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Part II of that resolution called for the withdrawal of Pakistani troops from Jammu and Kashmir, which never took place, leading to the creation of what Gulrukh confidently describes as Azad Kashmir, the land owned by Pakistan. I sincerely hope that such a gross misrepresentation of facts is fueled by ignorance only and is not governed by any sinister agenda, i.e., it is an act of omission and not an act of commission.

By the way, the war India and Pakistan fought 45 years ago was not over Kashmir. One would be well advised to review the history of “muktijuddha”, the War of Liberation that transformed East Pakistan into Bangladesh in 1971.

Finally, the last war India and Pakistan fought was in 1998.