“We have made it clear that we are not going to coerce, intimidate or put any pressure on any State making its choice. But those states who wish to join the Pakistan Constituent Assembly will find us ready and willing to negotiate with them agreement for the mutual advantage of both. Those who wish to declare their complete independence may be beneficial for both and secure mutual and reciprocal interest.”
- Mr. Jinnah / Quaid-e-Azam
- Speech: The Quaid Demands Release of Kashmir Detenus | 11 July 1947
- Context: Press Statement after an hour-long interview with the Kashmir Muslim leaders
The Tragedy of Kashmir
Kashmir is a conflict in South Asia that has outlasted most post-World War II disputes: the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the American-Chinese confrontation, South African apartheid and the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Kashmir is one of the primary causes of hostility between India and Pakistan and a source of endless misery for the people of Kashmir. Despite two full-scale wars, an almost continuous armed confrontation at the Indo-Pakistan border, seventy-three years of Kashmiri uprising and its repression by the Indian state, and the beleaguered Kashmiris immense suffering have induced neither India nor Pakistan to adjust their respective stands.
The Pakistani way
Kashmiri sentiments and interests supersede the perceived interests of Pakistan and India. The hopes, desires and aspirations of the people of Kashmir outrank Pakistan’s or India’s territorial ambitions. The Pakistani will always support Kashmir’s aspiration for freedom. The citizens of Pakistan completely submit to the basic principle that the ultimate arbiters of the Kashmir dispute are the people of Kashmir.
The Kashmiri alienation
The reality is that India’s moral isolation from the Kashmiri people is total and irreversible. India will always be perceived as a tormentor and Pakistan as a potential rescuer, if India never meaningfully satisfies Kashmiri aspirations of self-government. India enjoys a successful track record of subversion, brute force and unlawful machinations against the Kashmiri people. Very recently, India created an epidemic of ‘Dead Eyes’ in Kashmir as Indian armed forces used pump-action shotguns on civilians that rendered them blind which resulted in an international outrage.
India carries the shame and moral burden of being an oppressor. At the same time, Pakistan has had its own internal troubles of ethnic warfare, stories of corruption, sectarian violence and political squabbles. Kashmiri people had little enthusiasm for a plebiscite which would confine them to exchange life under Indian sovereignty for one under Pakistan’s sovereignty. Repealing Article 370 has been another injury to legitimate Kashmiri aspirations of self-government.
India, in its wisdom, had constructed the Article 370 of the Indian constitution which gave special status to the region of Kashmir, allowing it to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal administration of the state. The underlying motive was, perhaps, to demonstrate India’s sincerity towards the Kashmiri people. As a result, this created elements within Kashmir that desired to be a legitimate part of India.
Recently, India decided to scrap Article 370, deployed troops in Kashmir, placed Kashmiri leaders under house arrest and barricaded Kashmir from the world by blocking the internet, mobile phones and even landlines — which rendered millions of people incommunicado. The Indian objective is to change the demographics of Kashmir by engineering a numerical Hindu majority. This will certainly deprive the people of Kashmir their right of self-governance and harvest greater bitterness and alienation. A settlement that does not restore the natural, millennial flow of Kashmiri history, culture and geography is not likely to satisfy either Kashmiri aspirations or the requirements of durable peace between India and Pakistan.
Mr. Jinnah warned against this “Appeals to patriotism, justice, and fair play, and for goodwill, fall flat. It does not require political wisdom to realise that all safeguards and settlements would be a scrap of paper, unless they are backed up by power. Politics means power, and not relying only on cries of justice or fair play or goodwill.”
The Kashmiris directly experienced the reality of Mr. Jinnah’s words as he warned us against the Hindu extremist elements that have a stronghold over the sentiments and consciousness of the Indian population.
The Rise of Fascism
Every nation has within itself elements of racism, fascism and extremism. For example, there’s a populous within America that believes in white supremacy. Similarly, there are Muslim extremists within Pakistan and Hindu fascists in India. Such elements are dangerous and they gain hold as a reaction to oppression and loss of opportunity. It’s of immense importance for every nation to never allow such fringe elements to form government.
The citizens of Pakistan know the gravity of this as they have experienced a dictatorial regime which did drive the country towards religious extremism but was very strongly supported by the United States and its Saudi ally. However, since then, no religious extremist elements have been able to form government in Pakistan as the majority of people are passionately opposed to them. Unfortunately, India contrastingly has democratically elected ‘Bharatiya Janata Party’ (BJP) which has roots in fascist Hindu extremist movement which takes its inspiration from Hitler, the final solution, and believes in the efficacy of racially cleansing Muslims from India.
In political science linguistics, India is a ‘status quo power’ as it actually holds the area it covets and its policies are intended to preserve the existing territorial situation. Further, India’s decision-making elite appears to be largely persuaded that India must cast itself in the image of a great power. Typically, great powers are less susceptible to compacts of equality and compromise with smaller neighbors.
Pakistan’s position is that of a ‘revolutionary power’, one which seeks to change that status quo. In contrast to a ‘status quo’ power -- which is predictable and inflexible -- the ‘revolutionary power’ has the advantage of tactical flexibility and a focus on process rather than fixed positions. This means there's possibility for Pakistan to disrupt the political solution. The citizens of Pakistan aim to formulate policy beyond military terms and double-down on peaceful methods to educate, organize and unite the people of Kashmir and mobilize the international community to bring multiple pressures on India’s government to opt in favor of a sane and lasting settlement. People of Pakistan are steel-willed, resolute, and determined.
Desired end-state for Pakistan is to achieve binational friendship by creating an autonomous Kashmir with open borders that achieves ‘unification with divided sovereignty’. Under an arrangement whereby Jammu and Ladakh exercise a great measure of autonomy, India may claim sovereignty over them. Similarly, Azad Kashmir may be assured fuller autonomy and freedom from the federal government at Islamabad which Pakistan continues to remain the sovereign power. Upon the Valley, the historical and geographical heart of Kashmir and home of Kashmiriyat -- may be invested the attributes of sovereignty. This way we achieve a united Kashmir serving as a bridge between India and Pakistan. (source: A Kashmiri Solution for Kashmir by Eqbal Ahmad)
We must remember Mr. Jinnah’s words “The present leadership of the Hindu Congress, especially during the last ten years, has been responsible for alienating the Muslims of India more and more, by pursuing a policy which is exclusively Hindu; and since they have formed the Governments in six provinces where they are in a majority they have by their words, deeds, and program shown more and more that the Muslims cannot expect any justice or fair play at their hands. Whenever they are in majority and wherever it suited them, they refused to cooperate with the Muslim League Parties and demanded unconditional surrender and signing of their pledges.”
“On the very threshold of what little power and responsibility is given, the majority community have clearly shown their hand: that Hindustan is for the Hindus; only the Congress masquerades under the name of nationalism, whereas the Hindu Mahasabha does not mince words.”
“I want the Muslims to believe in themselves, and take their destiny in their own hands. We want men of faith and resolution who have the courage and determination, and who would fight single-handed for their convictions, though at the moment the whole world may be against them. We must develop power and strength, till the Muslims are fully organized and have acquired that power and strength which must come from the solidarity and the unity of the people.”
Why are these words important? Because these are words of a man who was the most passionate proponent of a United India, of Hindus and Muslims working together as Indians. Back in 1916, Mr. Jinnah was arguing that "I have been a staunch Congressman throughout my public life and have been no lover of sectarian cries, but it appears to me that the reproach of "separatism" sometimes leveled at Muslims is singularly inept and wide off the mark, when I see this great communal organization rapidly growing into a powerful factor for the birth of United India," and "Our joint Conferences in Lucknow were marked by honest efforts on either side to find a lasting solution of our differences, and I rejoice to think that a final settlement has at last been reached which sets the seal on Hindu-Muslim cooperation and opens a new era in the history of our country. A few irreconcilable spirits in either camp may still exist here and there, but the atmosphere has on the whole been rid of the menace of sectarian thunder, and the prospects of the future are bright with a promise that gladdens the hearts of India's devoted sons." Surely, there must be real reasons and just causes for this strong proponent and staunch ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity to demand a separate homeland for the Muslims. Perhaps, these reasons were rooted in the protection of human rights of the Muslim nation.
It should be clear to everyone in Pakistan that it is essential they build up Pakistan into a prosperous and progressive nation. Mr. Jinnah instructs the nation that “Now is the time to plan to build and reconstruct and regenerate our great nation. It is in your hands; we have undoubtedly talents. Pakistan is blessed with enormous resources and potential. Providence has endowed us with all the wealth of nature and now it lies man to make the most of it. While the horizon is beset with dark clouds, let me appeal to you and give this message to the people of Pakistan. Create enthusiasm and spirit and go forward with your task, with courage and hope, and we shall do it. Are we down-hearted? Certainly not. I feel confident that a united nation of millions of people with a grim determination and with a great civilization and history need fear nothing. It is now up to you to work, work and work and we are bound to succeed. And never forget our motto; Unity, Faith and Discipline.”
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