Pakistan was not a creation of Mr Jinnah’s. Pakistan was brought into being by Maulana Azad, Pandit Nehru, and Sardar Patel: Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah

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  • Publish Date: Feb 19 2018 9:27PM
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  • Updated Date: Feb 19 2018 9:27PM
Pakistan was not a creation of Mr Jinnah’s. Pakistan was brought into being by Maulana Azad, Pandit Nehru, and Sardar Patel: Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah

An excerpt from an interview of the National Conference founder from Nyla Ali Khan’s new book Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah’s Reflections on Kashmir 

Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was interviewed for the Supplementary Issue of Shabistan Urdu Digest, New Delhi, in 1968. This interview was translated into English, and rights to publish the English translation were given to Messrs Narain Dass & Sons, Dehra Dun, by the General Manager of the Shama Group, Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi. I found the interview as well as the Urdu translation in the family archives, to which I had access. Palit & Palit Publishers published the interview as part of the book The Testament of Sheikh Abdullah, which Y. D. Gundevia, who had been Foreign Secretary under Indian Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shashtri, co-authored with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah

SHEIKH SAHIB, CAN YOU GIVE ME THE DATES OF YOUR VARIOUS ARRESTS?

My first arrest was, as I told you, in September 1931. My second arrest was on January 23, 1932, and I was in jail that time for four months and thirteen days. On May 23, 1933, I was arrested under orders of the Prime Minister of Kashmir, Col. Colvin, for two months and eighteen days. Then on July 13, 1934, I was arrested for nineteen days under orders of the Prime Minister, Mr. Wakefield. On August 29, 1938, I was arrested for the fifth time under orders of Prime Minister Sir Gopala Swami Iyengar; I was released after six months. On May 20, 1946, I was again arrested---this time under orders of Pandit Ram Chandra Kak and I was in prison until October 1, 1947, by which time the country had been granted independence and partitioned. Fighting had already started between India and Pakistan, and I was proud to take office as Prime Minister of Kashmir. However, by August 1953, I was again under suspicion and was arrested and sent to jail for four years and five months. I was released on January 8, 1958, but Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad ordered my arrest again on April 29, 1958, and I was in jail for five years, eleven months, and nine days. After my release on April 18, 1964, I went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, and upon my return to India on May 8, 1965, I was arrested again---this time by the Government of India. My previous arrests had been made by the Kashmir government. After that, as you know, I was released by the Government of India on January 2 of the year (1968).

 

BEFORE INDEPENDENCE IN 1947, WERE YOU IN FAVOR OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF TWO SEPARATE NATIONS, INDIA AND PAKISTAN?

The demand for the establishment of Pakistan was based on the erroneous view that Hindus and Muslims were separate nationalists. I hold that they do not belong to two different nationalities. They may indeed have individual problems but that need not separate them once and forever.

On this matter, I had long discussions with Mr. Jinnah, and since I was then President of the State People’s Congress, I tried to put before him the problems of the people of Kashmir. Of course, I agreed with him in regard to the ills of the Muslim community in general but I disagreed with him about the cure for those ills. Muslims inhabited the whole continent of India and their places of worship, educational institutions, and properties were all over the country. If the partition of the country into Hindustan and Pakistan was accepted, what would happen to Muslims and their property if they fell outside the new Pakistan?

I was actively involved in seeking a solution to these matters when the Cripps Mission arrived in India. They presented another formula: according to their suggestion, India’s unity would be safeguarded by allotting special representation to minorities, including Muslims. Mr. Jinnah accepted the Cripps Mission proposals, which meant, in effect, that he had rescinded his demand for Pakistan. But, I was most taken aback when Pandit Nehru rejected Cripps proposals. The result was that the demand for Pakistan was renewed.

Pakistan was not a creation of Mr. Jinnah’s. Pakistan was brought into being by Maulana Azad, Pandit Nehru, and Sardar Patel. These people were responsible for the division of the country. If they had accepted Cripps proposals, there would have been no Pakistan and no bloodshed in the Indian subcontinent later.

I had also met the Cabinet Mission and had put my views before them, but at the time of partition, I was in jail and in no position to prevent the unnecessary division of the people.

 

KHAN ABDUL GHAFFAR KHAN AMONG OTHERS BELIEVES THAT THE IDEA OF PARTITIONING INDIA WAS CONCEIVED BY OUTSIDE POWERS WHO HAD NO REAL INTEREST IN SOLVING THE PROBLEMS OF THE NATION. DO YOU AGREE WITH THIS?

A. No, the fault is ours. Indo-Pak friendship should always be the aim of well-wishers of both countries. It is not now necessary that India and Pakistan merge---India has friendly relations with Burma, Nepal, and Ceylon, and there is no fear in the minds of those nations that India will try to absorb them. Then why should Pakistan have such fears? It is the duty of all patriotic Indians, including Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, to nullify the efforts of those who sow the seeds of discord between India and Pakistan.

 

WHEN YOU WERE RELEASED FROM JAIL IN OCTOBER 1947, HOW DID YOU FIND CONDITIONS IN KASHMIR?

I found Kashmir in a very uncertain and unsettled condition. The future was very bleak . . . people doubted that India and Pakistan would be able to retain their independence. I wanted peace and prosperity for the Kashmiri masses above anything else and I, therefore, told the Congress and the Muslim League not to press Kashmiris for an immediate decision on accession and that time must be given for reorganization of the State.

I sent one of my colleagues, Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq, who is now the Chief Minister of Kashmir, to Lahore to meet the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, and to put my view of things before him. Unfortunately, Laiquat Ali Khan contended that the partition of the country was based on communal majorities, and since Kashmir was a predominantly Muslim State, Pakistan had first right on Kashmir. I did not accept this view. Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq told the leaders of Pakistan that no decision should be forced on Kashmir; time should be given to the people to make a decision and whatever the decision, Pakistan and India should accept it.

Liaquat Ali Khan and Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq could not agree on any solution, and Sadiq returned to Kashmir. Soon after his return, raiders from Pakistan attacked Kashmir.

In the midst of this time of political confusion and emotional stresses, swarms of refugees were moving from one country to the other, and the sick and wounded were everywhere. I was moved to alleviate the sufferings of both Hindus and Muslims. When I asked my wife about it, she agreed at once to help me in relief work. She gave up purdah and did commendable work in organizing relief camps. 

 

WHAT ROLE DID YOU PLAY IN SEEKING AID FROM INDIA? WHAT WAS YOUR ATTITUDE ABOUT ACCESSION TO INDIA?

A. At that time I told Gandhiji myself that Kashmiris were fighting against communalism to uphold certain principles. In reply, the statesmen of India argued that they would come to the rescue of Kashmir only if the instrument of accession was signed.

Whatever happened was due to the force of circumstances. I have already said that at the time of partition I was in jail and the Maharaja of Kashmir wanted to remain independent. He hoped to have friendly relations with both India and Pakistan, and, accordingly, he did not accede to either. He wanted to make only temporary agreements, and while India delayed such an agreement, Pakistan entered into it. Under this agreement Pakistan got control over all means of communications, post offices, and telegraph offices, and the Pakistani flag fluttered on all such buildings.

 

SHEIKH SAHIB, WHAT WAS THE AFTERMATH OF KASHMIR’S ACCESSION TO INDIA?

We were told that there would be no interference by India in Kashmir’s internal matters. Sardar Patel was busy getting the instruments of accession signed in the various Indian states and he was successful in all cases, but he could not come to terms with Kashmir. The Muslims of Kashmir feared that they would be lost in the vastness of India. I warned the leading statesmen of the time that India should not interfere with the independence of Kashmir and should let things proceed slowly for the time being. They did not heed my advice; suddenly, India announced to the world that Kashmir had acceded to India as an inseparable part of the new nation by the instrument of accession signed by the ruler of Kashmir. Cleverly, the temporary accession was transformed into a permanent accession.

I was very perturbed and told Pandit Nehru, who claimed to be a champion of independence and democracy, that India had gone back on its promise. In reply, Nehru said, ‘Well, it is all quite a muddle at the moment.’ This callous reply struck me very deeply but did not unnerve me, and I continued to meet the challenge of the time and especially the changed mentality of India. And this determination continues to this day. If we can fight Pakistan with whom we have religious and ethnic ties, why can’t we fight other forces. A true Muslim has no fear of death. The best death is that death which one meets on the battlefield.

So far there has been no referendum in Kashmir. Weak leaders have been put in power, and my brave colleagues and I have been jailed. But still not a single soul is prepared to accept the idea that Kashmir has finally acceded to India. The picture of Kashmir has changed a lot, and it is a different Kashmir than it was at the time of partition. There are still those Muslims who raised the slogans, ‘Long Live Gandhi and Nehru!’ and who wanted to live in peace and friendship with India, but the dishonesty of Indian statesmen has weakened their faith in India. They have witnessed riots, corruption, the plight of the poor people in India and the luxury of the wealthy, and they are greatly influenced by these things. As a result, a significant change has taken place in their outlook.

 

WHEN YOU BECAME PRIME MINISTER OF KASHMIR, WHAT MATTERS REQUIRED YOUR ATTENTION MST URGENTLY? HOW DID YOU HANDLE THEM?

The most important and dangerous matter was the attitudes of Muslims and Hindus toward each other. They looked upon each other with great suspicion and fear, and I have wanted to remove these unnecessary burdens from their minds. The Hindus of Jammu and Kashmir could not imagine that they could become a part of Pakistan, because they knew what had befallen other Hindus in Pakistan. Similarly, the Muslims of Kashmir feared the results of accession to India. The fate of the Muslims in Kapurthala and other Punjabi states was fresh in their minds.

Certain developments in India further complicated the situation. The Hindu Mahasabha and some other organizations were of the opinion that since the Muslims had created an exclusively Muslim country, the Hindus must have a Hindu State. This difference in ideology created a big problem for Kashmiris who believed only in human values and did not see things in terms of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, or other religious groups.

Therefore, the biggest problem for me was to create mutual confidence between the two communities and to remove all fear from their minds. I felt that the accession of Kashmir to India could satisfy the Hindus well enough but the Muslims too ought to be satisfied. I thought that if I assured the Muslims that there would be no interference from India in the internal affairs of Kashmir, they too would be mollified. I was impressed by the democratic principles of India, and the Muslims of Kashmir could easily be made to understand that their interests would be served by our acceding to India, with full freedom in their internal matters.

I was successful in creating confidence among both the Muslims and the Hindus as well, in spite of the extreme positions taken by some communal organizations. The Kashmiris did not want an iron-handed rule; Kashmiris, whether Hindu or Muslim, have a similar character, similar complexion, belong to the same race, and even have similar names. They wanted to live in peace together, and I wanted to help them.

 

DID YOU EVER FEEL THERE WAS ANY NECESSITY OF HOLDING AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE DEATH OF SHYAMA PRASAD MUKHERJEE?

You see, you must look into the background of the event to fully appreciate this. Restrictions of entry into Jammu and Kashmir were imposed by the Central Government; Defense of India Rules had declared Kashmir to be a war zone. Even as Prime Minister of Kashmir I could move about in the State only with a special pass in my possession. I had protested against these restriction in the very beginning, but my protest proved fruitless. When Shyama Prasad Mukherjee decided to break these restrictions, I asked Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, the Home Minister of Kashmir, to consult Pandit Nehru about it. Dr. Mukherjee was a friend of mine, and I had great regard for him. When the Home Minister decided to arrest him and interned him in a private home in Nishat Bagh, I was naturally very upset. Pandit Nehru and Maulana Azad came to Kashmir about that time, and I expected them to meet Dr. Mukherjee, but they did not. I had suggested that after arresting Dr. Mukherjee he should be sent to Delhi, but that was not done. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad held the portfolio of Home Affairs, and Shyam Lal Saraf the portfolio of Health and Jails. As a member of the administration, I do not consider myself wholly free of responsibility in the matter, but these colleagues of mine were directly in charge of the departments concerned, and I could establish contact with Dr. Mukherjee only through them. I did not even get authentic reports about his health from these people; and I received the news of his death quite unexpectedly one morning.

 

BUT WHY DIDN’T YOU ORDER AN INQUIRY INTO THE WHOLE MATTER? WHY COULD NOT THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE KASHMIR HIGH COURT BE APPOINTED TO LOOK INTO THE MATTER?

Looking back, I feel I should have done that. But, at the time, I suggested that Dr. B. C. Roy might come to Kashmir and make general enquiries. He agreed to come but later was unable to do so. I especially wanted the Central Government to look into this matter so that all misunderstandings could be put to rest. In the atmosphere that was prevailing, even the Chief Justice of Kashmir would not have been free from criticism or the charge of impartiality. Unfortunately, the Central Government did not hold an investigation. During this period, on the 9th of August, a vicious conspiracy was hatched against me and contrary to all principles of justice and fair play, I was dismissed and jailed. On my release in 1958, I demanded an impartial enquiry into Dr. Mukherjee’s death but no attention was paid to my request. If there are any doubts even today, an impartial enquiry can be held and I am prepared to bear the consequences if anyone thinks I had a hand in Dr. Mukherjee’s death.