Tag Archives: Jammu

Name changes: POK or POJ&K? 12 June 2014

Name changes: POK or POJ&K?   12 June 2014

India’s new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Government is apparently contemplating changing the term ‘Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK)’ to ‘Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJ&K)’. This move has upset some people, including Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah, who considers it an attempt to polarise the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)—or J&K-ites, as I call this divided and disputed population. Terminology is an important issue, including in relation to disputed J&K, the nomenclature for which I have sometimes found to be confusing, unclear and problematic.

In my experience, when Indians and Pakistanis use the term ‘Kashmir’, they often mean different things. For an Indian, ‘Kashmir’ generally refers to the region known as the Kashmir Valley—or Kashmir, for short—which, along with Jammu and Ladakh, comprises what I call ‘Indian J&K’: the area of J&K actually under India’s control. For a Pakistani, ‘Kashmir’ often refers to most of the former princely state of J&K. I say ‘most’ as Pakistan has been able—very cleverly since General Zia’s time—to suggest via maps and diplomacy that the Gilgit-Baltistan region in J&K’s north (known as the Northern Areas until 2009) is neither part of J&K, nor of the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan’s tactic, in which India seemingly sometimes acquiesces, arises because the British directly controlled the Gilgit Agency from the 1880s and the Gilgit Leased Area from the 1930s. Islamabad’s suggestion is that the two areas were not part of princely J&K. This is incorrect. Both areas actually belonged the Dogra maharaja as part of J&K’s Frontiers District Province. Furthermore, as was publicly recorded, the British returned the Gilgit Agency and the Gilgit Leased Area to Maharaja Hari Singh’s direct control and administration on 1 August 1947. Gilgit-Baltistan therefore is part of the India-Pakistan dispute over J&K.

Confusingly, ‘Kashmir’ also is used by historians and international relations scholars in the term ‘the Kashmir dispute’ that has existed since 1947 between India and Pakistan over which should possess the former princely state of J&K. J&K comprises five regions: Azad Kashmir; Gilgit-Baltistan; Jammu; Kashmir; Ladakh. However, the former princely entity was popularly called ‘Kashmir’ after its highest profile, best known and most celebrated part: Kashmir. This famous region essentially was/is the Kashmir Valley. Because the princely state was popularly called Kashmir, so we have ‘the Kashmir dispute’. More correctly, this issue should be called the ‘Jammu and Kashmir dispute’, or ‘the India-Pakistan dispute over Jammu and Kashmir’, or ‘the dispute over the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir’. However, because these terms are a mouthful and given the former princely state’s popular name, the Kashmir dispute has come to be commonly used.

Ethnically-speaking, differences also exist. For an Indian or someone from Indian J&K, a ‘Kashmiri’ is a resident of the Kashmir Valley. Most, but not all, ethnic Kashmiris in J&K live there, although Azad Kashmir also has some small populations. For a Pakistani, a Kashmiri could be anyone from the former princely state of J&K. In Azad (Free) Jammu and Kashmir—or Azad Kashmir, for short—as this region has formally called itself since 1947, a Kashmiri is a person from Azad Kashmir who, most probably, is not an ethnic Kashmiri. Azad Kashmiris call themselves ‘Kashmiris’ because their forebears were subjects in the former princely state of J&K commonly called ‘Kashmir’. Similarly, some ‘Pakistanis’ in the United Kingdom, a large percentage of whom actually are from Mirpur in Azad Kashmir, increasingly are calling themselves ‘Kashmiris’ in order to distinguish themselves from other British Pakistanis. These Mirpuris are not ethnic Kashmiris. Their links arise from the former princely state.

Then we get to the loaded terms, such as India’s ‘Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK)’ and Pakistan’s ‘Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK)’ or ‘Indian Held Kashmir (IHK)’. (Another term for New Delhi to consider is ‘Chinese-Occupied Kashmir’, which refers to Aksai Chin and Shaksgam.) Confusingly, when an Indian uses the term ‘POK’, he/she can be talking about three things: ‘POK’, which I call ‘Pakistan Administered J&K’ (comprising Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan); Azad Kashmir; or Gilgit-Baltistan. Such unclarity is made worse because some Indians cannot bring themselves to use the term ‘Azad Kashmir’. It sticks in their craws that these pro-Pakistanis are ‘free’, particularly as both Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan supposedly are an ‘integral part of India’ due to Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India in 1947. Interestingly, Azad Kashmiris do not consider themselves free in the sense of being independent. Rather, they became free from the maharaja’s control in 1947, then, post-accession, they were free from Indian control.

The terms ‘IOK’ and ‘IHK’ also confuse, chiefly as many Pakistanis don’t appear to be interested in obtaining possession of Indian J&K’s Jammu or Ladakh regions. Remembering that the ‘k’ in the acrostic ‘Pakistan’ stands for ‘Kashmir’, Pakistanis want the Kashmir Valley. Here there is an important aside: despite what many Indians and others believe, Pakistan does not officially claim all of J&K. Rather, it wants the United Nations plebiscite held so that the people of J&K can decide whether J&K, in its entirety, will join either India or Pakistan. Meanwhile, Islamabad is administering ‘its’ portion of J&K until this poll is held. Pakistanis’ hopes for a plebiscite are forlorn, however. Since the 1950s, India has been unwilling to have this poll held.

And, finally, to India’s proposed use of the term ‘Pakistan Occupied J&K’. It is easy to change a term, although the change may not have much relevance. However, for two reasons, the term ‘POJ&K’ is more correct than ‘POK’. First, as noted, the India-Pakistan dispute over J&K should actually be called ‘the Jammu and Kashmir dispute’, not just ‘the Kashmir dispute’. Second, most of Azad Kashmir comprises western areas of the former Jammu Province, chiefly Mirpur, Kotli and Poonch. The problem remains that, whatever term New Delhi decides to use, it does not reflect the confusing fact that ‘occupied’ Gilgit-Baltistan also is part of the Kashmir dispute. We need a new, more inclusive, term for this dispute!

The opinions in this blog are mine. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any organisations, professional or otherwise, with which I am involved or associated.

Christopher Snedden
12 June 2014


Actual and Perceptional ‘Borders’ in J&K 22 January 2014



Map above from The Economist, 8 February 2012, www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/05/indian_pakistani_and_chinese_border_disputes


Actual and Perceptional ‘Borders’ in J&K     22 January 2014

The dispute over the international status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is old, complicated and convoluted. India and Pakistan have been engaged in this matter emotionally, diplomatically and militarily from before the British left the Indian subcontinent in August 1947. J&K was then important to them because the princely state—commonly called ‘Kashmir’ after its most famous region—was prestigious. In 1947, J&K was India’s largest princely state. It had international borders with Afghanistan, China and (then independent) Tibet; the USSR’s Tajikistan Republic was nearby to the north. Some major rivers flowed through J&K: the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. Finally, J&K would share post-partition borders with Pakistan and India, albeit short with India, with both nations wanting to include the princely state in their territory.

In the finish, neither nation secured all of J&K. Since 1947, the former princely state has been militarily-divided between India, which controls Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, and Pakistan, which administers Azad (Free) Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. China controls two areas nominally under J&K’s control in 1947: Aksai Chin and Shaksgam. Officially, India claims all of the territory ‘occupied’ by Pakistan and China because the ruler of J&K, Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, acceded to India on 26 October 1947. For New Delhi, all of J&K is an ‘integral part of India’. Pakistan is administering ‘its’ areas until a United Nations-supervised plebiscite can be held to determine whether the people of J&K want ‘their’ state, in its entirety, to join India or Pakistan. India and China, as part of their ongoing territorial and border negotiations, are discussing Aksai Chin. Beijing has said that it will renegotiate its control of Shaksgam should India and Pakistan resolve their dispute over J&K.

Interestingly, but problematically, India and Pakistan each has a different perception as to what comprises the former princely state. Official Indian maps show all of J&K as being Indian territory, even though civilian Indians have never set foot in areas outside India’s control: Azad Kashmir; Gilgit-Baltistan; Aksai Chin; Shaksgam. Official Pakistani maps show the Gilgit Agency as not being part of the ‘disputed territory’ of J&K. (Such maps also often show Junagadh and Manavadar, whose rulers acceded to Pakistan in 1947, as being Pakistan’s.) Although the British controlled the Gilgit Agency from the 1880s, they publicly returned (or retroceded) control of this territory to the Maharaja of J&K on 1 August 1947. Therefore, Gilgit is part of J&K, and of the Kashmir dispute.

India is fussy about maps of J&K, with New Delhi sometimes insisting that publications must use its official map of the former princely state. In 2012, New Delhi censored editions of The Economist that included a map showing the actual situation on the ground in disputed J&K  (like the map above), rather than showing all of J&K as being Indian territory. For this reason, I chose not include any maps in my book about Azad Kashmir that was published internationally in 2012, and in Pakistan and India in 2013.

Another issue is terminology. The India-Pakistan dispute over J&K is known as ‘the Kashmir dispute’ because, when the princely state was created in 1846, the most prestigious and reasonably autonomous part of the entity was Kashmir. Fairly quickly thereafter, both J&K and its rulers came to be called ‘Kashmir’. For this reason, although the dispute over J&K should be called the ‘Jammu and Kashmir dispute’, it is known instead as the ‘Kashmir dispute’. Otherwise, when Indians use the term ‘Kashmir’, they are referring to the Kashmir Valley that India controls and which Pakistan desires. For Indians, residents of Kashmir are ethnic Kashmiris. When Pakistanis use the term ‘Kashmir’, they may be referring to the Kashmir Valley. More often, they are referring to the entire former princely state. Similarly, when Pakistanis use the term ‘Kashmiri’, they may be referring to an ethnic Kashmiri. More often, they are referring to a resident of the former princely state. Pakistanis also talk of an ‘Azad Kashmiri’. This is a resident of the ‘Azad Kashmir’ region who, more often than not, is not an ethnic Kashmiri.

Neither India nor Pakistan knows how—nor seemingly is prepared—to resolve their dispute over J&K. Pakistan officially wants the UN plebiscite held, which is untenable for India. Conversely, India wants it and Pakistan to resolve this bilateral matter, although unofficially Pakistan might like mediation by a third party, possibly the United States, which also is untenable for India. However, the Kashmir dispute already has trilateral aspects. J&K-ites (my term for the people of J&K) are the third party to this dispute. Furthermore, in 1963, Pakistan ceded territory that India considers to be its to China; since 1948, the UN Security Council has been involved with India and Pakistan re J&K and could, if desired, re-open this matter sidelined since 1965; and, the UN has its Military Observer Group that monitors the Line of Control that divides J&K into Indian and Pakistan-administered areas.

Having been involved analysing the Kashmir dispute since 1984, I know that this issue generates considerable argument among Indians, Pakistanis and J&K-ites. Surprisingly, I have found only one matter about which India and Pakistan agree in their entire dispute over J&K: that neither J&K, nor any part of it, can have independence. This ‘agreement’ is counter to the azadi (independence) that some, perhaps many, J&K-ites living in places such as Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Mirpur, may desire. That said, we don’t know what status, or statuses, J&K-ites actually want as they have never been asked this question in any inclusive or conclusive way. Indeed, J&K-ites are the forgotten element of the Kashmir dispute—even though they actually instigated the fight over J&K’s international status before India or Pakistan was officially involved in the state and even though this fight is over their lands. This makes J&K-ites the first party to the Kashmir dispute—a fact not recognised, or forgotten, by India and Pakistan. When it comes to J&K, there is little agreement between anyone, it seems.

Christopher Snedden
22 January 2014

Climate and ‘climate change’ in J&K; 6 January 2014

Dras 2

Climate and ‘climate change’ in J&K; 6 January 2014

Newspapers are reporting that the divided state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is experiencing its annual cold spell. Quoting a ‘weather official’, the Kashmir Times (http://kashmirtimes.com/newsdet.aspx?q=27308) states that ‘The minimum temperature [in Indian J&K] was 12.4 degrees Celsius below the freezing point in Pahalgam last night [4 January] – [the] coldest [place] in the Kashmir Valley. It was 4.2 degrees Celsius below zero in Srinagar and minus 9.8 degrees Celsius in Gulmarg … Leh town recorded a minimum of minus 8.6 degrees Celsius and Kargil recorded minus 16.1 degrees … The minimum temperature in Jammu city was 5.6 degrees – two degrees below what is normal for this time of the season’. Pakistani newspapers have reported ‘cold spells’ throughout Pakistan and Pakistan-Administered J&K, including many temperatures below zero and road closures in northern Azad Kashmir. The Pamir Times, Gilgit, has reported that protesters in a local dispute in the Chilas area have blocked the Karakoram Highway, stranding ‘commuters … in sub-zero temperature[s]’ (http://pamirtimes.net/2012/01/11/kkh-blockade-enters-third-day-thousands-of-commuters-suffer-in-cold-weather/).

J&K has a diverse range of climates, ranging from extremely elevated and cold regions in its north and north-east, including glacial areas, to more monsoonal and temperate regions around Jammu and Mirpur at the northern end of the Punjab plains. While Jammu city in J&K’s south is far warmer than other parts of Indian J&K, this state includes the town of Drass (or Dras), which is supposedly the second coldest inhabited place in the world. Drass experiences extreme cold from mid-October to mid-May, with average lows around −22°C, although temperatures have gone as low as −45°C. Such temperatures, plus invariable associated road closures, impair India’s ability to move military materiel to troops stationed in Ladakh where they patrol the Siachen Glacier area or defend against Chinese forces across the Line of Actual Control. Similarly, the effects of cold weather often block the important Srinagar-Jammu road, making the transport of goods and people to or from Kashmir impossible for periods of time. In the depths of winter, air transport to J&K also is often hampered by bad weather, with flights to places such as Srinagar or Gilgit delayed or cancelled. On such occasions—which I, at times, have experienced—one realises how isolated and remote many of the people of J&K are, particularly those living beyond the Pir Panjal range in the Kashmir Valley, or in even more remote locations such as Gilgit or Ladakh.

Winter in the popular tourist destination of the Kashmir Valley is interesting—and cold (for an Australian, at least). Interestingly, Kashmir has ski fields at Gulmarg, although visitor numbers are down this year. Apart from this resort, few visitors come to Kashmir in winter. Traditionally, Kashmir’s cold weather starts on 21 December. It lasts for 72 days and can be divided into three periods: chillai kalan, extreme cold of forty days; chillai khurd, the ‘small cold’ of twenty days; and chillai baccha, the ‘baby cold’ of ten days. And it is cold! I remember once sleeping under a swathe of blankets and quilts in a Srinagar bed in the depths of winter and being extremely reluctant the next morning to get up and go out into the freezing air. Outside the warm house, the city was awash with a mixture of foot-chilling snow, ice and motor-induced slush. I needed warm and water-proof boots, coat and headwear to walk around for any period of time. Thermal underwear or a Kashmiri kangri (a small portable pot filled with warming charcoal embers) was helpful at such times. I experienced similar conditions in Muzaffarabad in winter, but not as cold.

Every year, northern India, northern Pakistan and all of J&K experience varying degrees of cold weather for differing lengths of time, with it generally being colder the more northerly one goes. And, although northern parts of the subcontinent, including J&K, are currently experiencing chilly spells, I have not seen reports that these are un-seasonally cold or that they are due to the impacts of climate change. Nevertheless, some people consider that climate change is causing Himalayan glaciers, many of which are located in J&K, to melt. In the short term, this will make more water available for people downstream. Ultimately, it could result in a major change to J&K’s climate and environment. Other issues in J&K possibly associated with climate change are hotter summers, variable or erratic snowfalls, and reduced rainfall during agriculturally productive warmer months, with paddy and saffron yields down in recent years. Consequently, the Indian J&K Government is taking the issue of climate change seriously. Last December, it presented a draft Action Plan on Climate Change to India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The issue of climate change in J&K, and certainly in relation to the Kashmir region, is not a new one. I recently came across an article in the Science journal from 1907 (Vol. XXV, No. 629, January 18, 1907) that discussed ‘The climate [in the Vale of Kashmir]’. It was described in 1905 ‘as [being] warm and damp from June to August, though but little rain falls; mild and delightful in April, May, September and October; and cold and snowy in winter, when “bracing” is not infrequently less true to the actual conditions than “rigorous.” … A study of the physiographic features of the region, especially of the river terraces, as well as of the human history, leads to the conclusion that there has been a transition from colder or damper climatic conditions two thousand years or more ago to warmer or drier conditions to-day. This transition appears … to be part of a wide-spread climatic change extending at least from Persia and the Caspian Sea on the west to the borders of China proper three thousand miles away on the east.’

One problem with climate change is that it is hard to actually determine whether current occurrences are climatic aberrations or major climatic, and possibly cataclysmic, change. Based on the 1907 article, however, climate change in J&K possibly is nothing new.

Christopher Snedden
6 January 2014

Article 370 and Indian Jammu and Kashmir; 10 December 2013



Article 370 and Indian Jammu and Kashmir; 10 December 2013

Indian prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, has raised the issue of the Indian Constitution’s Article 370 and its benefit for the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Although Article 370 supposedly guarantees autonomy to Indian Jammu and Kashmir (IJ&K), any such autonomy disappeared long ago.

Article 370 was included in the Indian Constitution in 1952 as a ‘temporary provision’, presumably until J&K’s international status was resolved and the state was finally integrated into India, as New Delhi expected would happen. Under this article, the Indian government was supposedly only responsible for defence, foreign affairs and communications. The IJ&K government of the day retained all other powers. This allowed the IJ&K state—comprising Jammu, the Kashmir Valley (or Kashmir) and Ladakh—significant autonomy. India’s input in IJ&K was limited to inter-state disputes, people’s fundamental rights and the three matters mentioned above.

Historically, Article 370 was created as a result of the controversial circumstances surrounding Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India on 26 October 1947. It was designed to appease Kashmiris uncertain about whether J&K should join India or Pakistan. It also unofficially recognised that India needed the Muslim Kashmiri leader, Sheikh Abdullah, and that New Delhi was agreeable to his terms for J&K joining the Indian Union (rather than Pakistan). In 1950, Abdullah was popular, politically powerful, and had considerable influence, including with his friend, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s prime minister. Nehru, who had Kashmiri ancestors, had an emotional attachment to the Kashmir Valley that, on occasions, clouded his otherwise rational approach to resolving difficult matters. He needed Abdullah to shore up India’s position in J&K, particularly amongst the Muslim-majority population living in the prized Kashmir region, possession of which Nehru was reluctant to forego. This related to India’s hope of winning the plebiscite that India’s leaders had promised, rather hastily, in 1947 to the people of J&K. J&K-ites were to determine whether J&K, in its entirety, would join India or Pakistan. But India’s desire to hold this poll faded quickly, chiefly because it felt that it would ‘lose’. Concurrently, a disenchanted Abdullah reverted to an earlier position favouring J&K being independent from both (secular) India and (Islamic) Pakistan. His stance was unacceptable to Nehru. As a result, Abdullah was sacked as IJ&K prime minister on 8 August 1953.

With the popular Abdullah sidelined, New Delhi steadily and consistently eroded IJ&K’s supposed autonomy. Local IJ&K politicians ably assisted India, starting with the administration led by Abdullah’s immediate successor, the necessarily (and possibly genuinely) pro-Indian, Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad. Thereafter, to all intents and purposes, IJ&K became just another Indian state. It is now fully integrated into the Indian political system. IJ&K voters send four representatives to India’s Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and six to its Lok Sabha (Lower House). The IJ&K prime minister, like is his counterparts elsewhere in India, is now called chief minister. The Indian tricolor flies throughout the state. The New Delhi-appointed Governor or Indian President is able to impose Governor’s Rule or President’s Rule on IJ&K. The Indian Administrative Service’s J&K cadre populates the IJ&K bureaucracy. People in IJ&K can obtain legal remedies through the Indian Supreme Court. Most persuasively, since 1947, IJ&K has become part of India economically. With no other transport options available, IJ&K is totally reliant on India for all of its goods and services. Consequently, IJ&K has become fully integrated with India commercially, financially and communications-wise.

So what’s the big deal? Article 370 has become a symbolic device that people use in different ways. For many Indians, especially non-Muslims, Article 370 is unfair, even abhorrent. It grants IJ&K, whose majority population comprises Muslims—although, as far as I can determine, the 2011 Indian Census does not confirm this situation—a special status not given to other Indians or Indian states. These anti-Article 370 Indians include members of Modi’s right-wing BJP. They want IJ&K to become a normal, or non-special, state fully incorporated into the Indian Union. Conveniently, this would allow them to purchase land and property in IJ&K, an option currently only available to ‘state subjects’ of IJ&K. This status arises from a law passed in princely J&K in 1927 and retained thereafter throughout J&K after 1947, with the exception of Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan. Naturally, some people in IJ&K fear being swamped should they lose state subject status.

Anti-Article 370 Indians also include many Jammuites and Ladakhis. They claim that they have long endured Kashmiri domination of IJ&K. Politically, ethnic Kashmiris have 47 seats in the IJ&K Legislative Assembly, giving them an absolute majority over Jammuites’ 37 seats—even though Jammu may have more electors than Kashmir—and Ladakhis’ three seats. Economically, Kashmiris get a larger share of state resources, jobs and services. Emotionally, New Delhi’s attention mainly goes to Kashmir and Kashmiris. Jammuites, particularly, and Ladakhis therefore would be happy to see IJ&K become a ‘normal’ Indian state without any special privileges. Many also may want the state bifurcated into two regions comprising Jammu-Ladakh and Kashmir, or even trifurcated into its three component regions. BJP politicians may be prepared to consider such proposals.

For Kashmiris, most of whom are Muslims, Article 370’s existence confirms that New Delhi acknowledges that this Muslim community is important, needs to be treated specially—and wooed. Additionally, IJ&K is India’s only Muslim-majority state. But, while Muslims comprise IJ&K’s majority population, they are part of a minority in secular, but Hindu-dominant, India. Kashmiris have cleverly extracted benefits from India for their special status. The removal of Article 370 would eliminate this specialness. Some Kashmiris say this would cause them to rethink whether they want to part of India. Such talk has concerned Congress-led governments that consider the Kashmiris’ presence in India—not in Islamic Pakistan—helps to confirm India’s secular credentials. Conversely, a BJP-led government possibly intent on Indian-ising, or even Hindu-ising, all Indians, regardless of their religion, causes Muslim Kashmiris angst. For them, Narendra Modi has possibly unleashed a monster.

Christopher Snedden
10 December 2013

October commemorations in J&K 8 October 2013

October commemorations in J&K                                             8 October 2013

October 1947 was an eventful month for people living in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). I have listed some dates below that J&K-ites may—perhaps should?—commemorate this month. I have extracted these dates mainly from my book The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir. This is not an inclusive list. Rather, it details events that were reported in 1947 and therefore are accessible to foreign scholars.

From 1 October: Maharaja Hari Singh’s armed forces continue their offensive against Muslims rebelling (at least since partition) in the Poonch (particularly) and Mirpur areas of western Jammu Province.

From 2 October: newspapers, including the Civil and Military Gazette (CMG), Lahore, The Times, London, and The Times of India, Bombay, report on the anti-maharaja uprising in Poonch.

4 October: inspired by events in Junagadh, a rebel Poonchi, Khwaja Ghulam Nabi Gilkar, tries, but fails, to create a ‘provisional government’ for J&K.

5 October: India’s Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, informs Minister for Home Affairs, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, that the (secular) All J&K National Conference had ‘decided for the Indian Union’.

7 October: Patel requests India’s Defence Minister, Sardar Baldev Singh, to send arms and ammunition immediately to J&K, by air if necessary, as a Pakistani intervention there appears likely.

7 October: Maharaja Hari Singh imposes ‘rigorous precensorship on all news and views’ in J&K and forces the Kashmir Times to cease publication after it advocates J&K’s accession to Pakistan.

8 October: CMG states that ‘there is already a 
movement’ in Gilgit for J&K’s accession to Pakistan. (This culminates in early November when Gilgitis successfully free their area from Maharaja Hari Singh’s control.)

9 October: the Kisan Mazdoor [Peasants and Workers] Conference, the party of Prem Nath Bazaz, a Kashmiri Hindu, calls upon the maharaja to accede to Pakistan.

9 October: leader of the National Conference, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, states that his ‘prime concern … is the emancipation of the four million people [in J&K]. We can consider the question of joining one or the other Dominion only when we have achieved our objective.’

10 October: The Times notes that Abdullah and Hari Singh are ‘anti-Pakistan’.

By mid-to-late October: anti-maharaja ‘rebels’ control large parts of Poonch and Mirpur districts.

Around mid-October: the J&K Government accuses Pakistan of providing cross-border support to Poonchi and Mirpuri rebels; equally, Pakistan confronts cross-border activity across the Sialkot-Jammu border that possibly involves ‘Kashmir state Forces’.

18 October: Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, complains to J&K’s Prime Minister about the ‘ruthless oppression of Muslims’ in J&K.

19, 21 October: CMG reports on serious inter-religious violence in Jammu Province. In the east, pro-Indian Hindus and Sikhs attack Muslims; in the west, pro-Pakistan Muslims attack Hindus and Sikhs. (Violence continues throughout November 1947. All Jammu communities are seriously affected.)

21 October: CMG reports that the southern Kashmir Valley, a ‘stronghold’ of the Kisan Mazdoor Conference, ‘last week witnessed a massive upsurge in favour of Pakistan’.

21–22 October: pro-Pakistan soldiers in the J&K Army, inspired by elements in the so-called Azad Army fighting in Poonch and Mirpur, rebel at Domel, near Muzaffarabad, and take control of the strategic bridge over the Jhelum River that controls entry to the Kashmir Valley beyond.

22 October: Muslim Pukhtoon tribesmen coming from, and sent by, Pakistan invade Kashmir Province via Kohala, on the J&K-Pakistan border, and Domel. Their intention is to capture Hari Singh and/or J&K for Pakistan.

22 October: Abdullah, talking in New Delhi before news of the Pukhtoons’ invasion has reached there, discusses the ‘present troubles in Poonch’.

From 22 October: Pukhtoon tribesmen heading for Srinagar brutally loot, pillage, rape and kill Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in Muzaffarabad, Uri and Baramula. In Baramula, they also kill some Europeans. Immediately thereafter, Kashmiris’ support for Pakistan wanes.

24 October: senior politicians in the (pro-Pakistan) All J&K Muslim Conference, led by the Poonchi, Sardar Ibrahim Khan, and benefitting from the Pukhtoons’ invasion of J&K, form the Provisional ‘Azad’ (Free) Government of J&K in the ‘liberated’ or freed areas of J&K. The nascent body claims to be the legitimate government for all of J&K, but neither Pakistan nor India recognise it.

26 October: Maharaja Hari Singh accedes to India, chiefly in order to obtain military help against the Pukhtoons. While accepting the accession, India’s Governor-General, Lord Louis Mountbatten, proposes that a plebiscite be held to enable the people of J&K to resolve J&K’s contentious international status.

27 October 1947: Indian military forces enter J&K, chiefly to defend J&K from the ‘raiders’—in which term New Delhi (disingenuously) includes Pukhtoons and all anti-maharaja/anti-Indian elements in J&K. Fighting closes the all-weather Jhelum Valley Road from Srinagar to Kohala (and on to Rawalpindi).

29 October: The Times reports an equivocating Sheikh Abdullah as saying that J&K ‘might be well advised to accede to neither [Dominion], but to retain neutral status and serve as a meeting ground for Hindu and Muslim ideas’.

30 October: Pakistan, which naively had expected the princely state ‘to fall into its lap like a ripe fruit’, rejects Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India as being based on ‘fraud and violence’.

31 October: Maharaja Hari Singh’s autocratic rule in J&K ends when Sheikh Abdullah is installed as Chief Emergency Administrator of the National Conference-dominated administration. It then is largely restricted to Kashmir due to the onset of winter, road closures and the Indian Army still securing territory. Singh’s officials remain in control in eastern parts of Jammu Province.

Late October: Kashmiris form a People’s Militia to defend themselves against the marauding Pukhtoons.

A lot happened in J&K, and to J&K-ites, in October 1947!

Christopher Snedden
8 October 2013

Divisions in ‘India’ 19 August 2013


Hindu Pandit Kashmiris seek a separate state in 2012: ‘Panun Kashmir’
Photo: http://indiawires.com/9092/news/state-news/panun-kashmir-seeks-reclamation-of-land-from-pakistan/

Divisions in ‘India’                                                                           19 August 2013

It is interesting to contemplate the borders of the nation that we call ‘India’. This modern entity owes its creation to the British who, in 1947, divided their imperial political possession that they also called ‘India’ into two dominions: the (secular) Union of India and Pakistan, a home ostensibly for Muslims. Interestingly, although Mauryans and Mughals had gone close to politically unifying the entire subcontinent, only the British actually did so. Equally, these interlopers divided it. However, it is worth remembering that, before the British left the subcontinent on 15 August 1947, all of what they controlled had been called ‘India’ and its residents ‘Indians’. Now, these people and their descendants comprise Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, who were East Pakistanis until they obtained their freedom from (West) Pakistan in 1971.

In 1947, the subcontinent’s division was not a fully determined matter. The ‘new’ India that came into being on 17 August when the India-Pakistan borders were finally announced—people were notified beforehand in case this upset their independence celebrations—quickly changed. India successfully digested the princely states whose rulers had acceded to it, including two contentious ones in 1948: Junagadh (although Pakistan still nominally claims Junagadh as its nawab (ruler) acceded to it in 1947) and Hyderabad. The only exception was the highly contentious—and contested—princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). India still claims three regions of J&K: Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, which, according to India, Pakistan has been ‘occupying’ since 1947, and the Aksai Chin region, which China also has been ‘occupying’. Supposedly, these regions are ‘integral parts of India’, even though Indians have never set foot in them. Any settlement of India’s claims almost certainly would see India’s borders change again, with India’s preferred option being to convert the Line of Control (LOC) that currently divides J&K into Indian J&K (comprising Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh) and Pakistan-administered J&K (Azad Kashmir; Gilgit-Baltistan) into the international boundary. New Delhi, it seems, is not too perturbed about ‘losing’ these two areas. The China-India border question is more complex. Again, India may be prepared to ‘lose’ some territory should China offer the right deal. So too might Bhutan, which also has an unresolved border with China.

Post-partition, India’s borders changed in other ways. India incorporated four former French territories, including Pondicherry, in 1956; some former Portuguese territories, including Goa, by 1961; and, the former protectorate of Sikkim as its twenty-second state, in 1975. In 1968, India’s borders contracted slightly when a deeply disappointed New Delhi ceded ten per cent of the Rann of Kutch to Pakistan following United Nations’ arbitration. The resolution of other international issues means that India could win, or lose, further territory: with Pakistan (J&K; Sir Creek, in the Rann of Kutch); with China (Aksai Chin; Arunachal Pradesh/South Tibet (for China); India-China border); with Bangladesh, which issue is a real doozy. I quote from a recent informative article by Rukmini Das and Deepak Raju (www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/a-settlement-long-overdue/article5017339.ece): “…there are 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India. These include a few counter-enclaves, which are enclaves within enclaves, as well as a counter-counter enclave—a parcel of Bangladeshi territory surrounded by Indian territory, itself surrounded by Bangladeshi territory! In India, these slivers of Bangladesh are in the States of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura.” This is a confounding situation, particularly for people living in these enclaves.

Since 1972, when India and a defeated Pakistan made some minor adjustments to the LOC, India’s borders have not changed. What has changed has been India’s internal structure. A major reorganisation was made in 1956, with various districts and former princely states amalgamated, often along linguistic lines, into fourteen states. This number has now doubled to 28 (plus seven territories), with some former territories upgraded to state status to appease disgruntled citizens. In 2000, a further three states were created: Jharkhand, from southern Bihar; Chhattisgarh, from south-eastern Madhya Pradesh; and, Uttarakhand, from north-western Uttar Pradesh. Most recently, New Delhi has announced that a new state called Telengana will be carved out of north-western Andhra Pradesh, much to the chagrin of some Andhrans.

Nor will India’s state-creation stop there. Some Indians consider that, because the United States has 50 states for its population of 300 million, India needs more states for its population of 1.2 billion. (On this ratio, India should have a staggering, probably unmanageable, 200 states.) There are many demands, with these often reflecting a linguistic or ethnic group’s desire for statehood: Bodoland (from Assam); Bundelkhand (between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh); Gorkhaland (from West Bengal); Harit (or Braj) Pradesh (western Uttar Pradesh); Purvanchal (eastern Uttar Pradesh, and possibly parts of western Bihar); Saurashtra (from Gujarat); and, Vidarbha (eastern Maharashtra). Other possibilities include Jammu, Ladakh or Panun Kashmir (for Hindu Pandits in the Kashmir Valley), all of which are in Indian J&K, being given state or territory status. Some indigenous ‘tribals’ in Tripura want a separate state. A former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati, once proposed that this heavily-populated state of 200 million people be divided into four states: Avadh Pradesh; Bundelkhand; Pashchimanchal; Purvanchal.

Boundary changes have also afflicted other South Asian nations. In 2009, Sri Lanka defeated Tamil separatists seeking Tamil Eelam in northern and eastern areas. Apart from ‘obtaining’ Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in 1947, Pakistan expanded in 1948 after finally incorporating its princely states, including a reluctant Kalat. But this nation was severely dismembered when East Pakistan successfully broke away from West Pakistan in 1971. Some Baluchis and Pukhtoons also want to create separate states, while Saraiki speakers want a new province to be created in southern (Pakistani) Punjab. Confoundingly for Islamabad, Kabul does not accept the British-imposed Durand Line of 1893 that currently serves as the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. I say ‘currently’ as, if history shows us anything about ‘India’, it is this: nothing stays the same forever. Inevitably, there will be more changes to national and international borders in South Asia.

Christopher Snedden
19 August 2013

What’s happening in Kashmir? 12 August 2013

What’s happening in Kashmir?                                      12 August 2013

It’s hard to know exactly what’s happening in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), but two major events have occurred there this week. The first is some serious ‘communal violence’ in the Kishtwar District of the Jammu Division of Indian J&K. The term ‘communal violence’ is a subcontinental euphemism for Hindu-Muslim troubles. In Kishtwar, this has taken the form of Muslims chanting anti-Indian slogans, to which some Hindus, who invariably are pro-Indian, have taken violent objection. Another version claims that some Muslims confronted a provocative Hindu who was seeking to disrupt their Eid celebrations, after which things quickly got of out hand. Following two deaths, a curfew was imposed on the so-called ‘Land of Sapphire and Saffron’—and now of suffering. Some Indian and J&K politicians were prevented from entering this area, much to their respective chagrin. Since then, curfews have been imposed on seven of Jammu’s ten districts. Coming around the time of Eid, the situation in Jammu Division suggests that there is significant volatility there between pro-Indian Hindus and anti-Indian Muslims in communities where neither of these populations respectively numerically dominates—unlike the Kashmir Valley where Muslims almost completely dominate numerically.

The second event in J&K is some serious fighting across the Line of Control (LoC) by Indian and Pakistani forces using small arms, light machine guns and mortars, but not yet, it seems, heavy artillery. India has claimed that special Pakistani forces from a ‘Border Action Team’ killed five Indian soldiers on 6 August. Concurrently, Pakistan has claimed that Indian forces have been engaging in unprovoked firing across the LOC, with one soldier killed and a number of soldiers and civilians wounded or targetted. Ceasefire violations have increased in the last few years. These latest violations and incidents, plus the recent downturn in India-Pakistan relations, have jeopardised the ceasefire that came into place on the LOC in 2003. Indeed, they might suggest that the ceasefire is all but dead.

However, some people in both nations still seemingly are in favour of trying to improve relations. One such person is India’s new Foreign Secretary, Sujatha Singh, who recently suggested when she was appointed that she would like to see India-Pakistan relations improve. Possibly fortuitously, she knows her counterpart in Islamabad, Jaleel Jilani, as their tenures overlapped in Canberra briefly in 2007. Similarly, Jilani would like to see a ‘sustained and meaningful engagement with India that would produce mutually beneficial results’. In the same vein, Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, expressed ‘sadness’ over the ‘loss of precious human lives’ in the LOC incidents and stated that it was ‘incumbent upon the leadership of both sides … to improve the atmosphere by engaging constructively with a view to building trust and confidence’. Concurrently, to ease the situation, the two generals who function as the Director General of Military Operations for India and Pakistan consulted via the ‘hotline’ on 8 August, although such meetings apparently are not unusual, nor about ‘hot’ matters. Arguably, the initially milder response to the 6 August incident by India’s Defence Minister, A.K. Antony, suggested that he didn’t want to do anything that might worsen India-Pakistan relations. However, when Antony became better informed—plus after he was severely chastised in the Indian Parliament by his political opponents—he took a much harder line against Pakistan.

It is impossible to determine exactly who did what, when and why. This reflects the competitive nature of India-Pakistan relations in which neither nation will ‘give an inch’ to the other militarily, diplomatically or politically. All one can do is speculate as to why these incidents are occurring. Seemingly, they are to do with internal politics. On the Pakistan side, the Pakistan Army may be trying to assert itself with the newly elected (civilian) government. Senior generals might be attempting to show Sharif and his political colleagues that the military can operate pro-actively and that it will not allow itself to be—and indeed is not—answerable to civilian politicians. There also may be some unease in Pakistan about post-ISAF Afghanistan in which India and Pakistan look likely to compete for influence in a nation free which will be free from United States’ involvement and moderation. The LOC ‘events’ may be some early shoring up of positions by the Pakistan side. Equally, it could just be part of ongoing LOC activities in which each nation’s military forces probe for weaknesses on the other side.

As for India’s responses to these incidents seemingly instigated by Pakistan, it is all about politics. An election is looming and strong responses to Pakistani provocations show that political parties are tough on Pakistan. Indian politicians perceive that this hardline and high profile approach is electorally popular. Certainly, they can’t appear to be weak or vacillating during an election campaign. Most likely, we will see more of such stridency until the election is completed next May. Equally, some Indians are genuinely disenchanted with Pakistani attempts, actual or planned, to cause mayhem in India. They want India to respond in kind to Pakistan’s attacks either across the LOC or as occurred in Mumbai in 2008, the so-called ‘26/11’. To this extent, Indian forces will likely respond across the LOC at a time and place of their choosing. Equally, India needs to be careful that it doesn’t disempower Pakistan’s civilian leaders with whom Indians might be able to do business.

The ‘bottom line’ is that such incidents reflect the ever parlous state of India-Pakistan relations. The big losers are the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It is impossible for me to understand what they have gone through since 1947—and still sometimes endure: communalism; wars; heavy militarisation; regular and sometimes heavy cross-LOC firings; excessive monitoring by intelligence agencies and secret services; disruptive internal protests; accusations that they are unpatriotic; trade and transport dislocations; insurgencies; poor-to-freezing India-Pakistan relations; political manipulation; little or no direct consultations about their international situations and desires; etc. Perhaps someone there might be able to tell me why these events are happening and how they impact on them?

Christopher Snedden
12 August 2013