Kashif Hafeez Siddiqui

Did Jinnah know about the Kashmir War?

In Pakistan History on June 29, 2010 at 8:02 am

By Ishtiaq Ahmed

Those who want us to believe that an obscure colonel forced Pakistan into a war without the knowledge of the top political leadership, especially someone of the stature of Jinnah, are insulting common sense

In his comment, ‘Jinnah’s role in the Kashmir War’ (Daily Times, March 24, 2010) on my op-ed a week earlier, ‘The 1947-48 Kashmir War’ (Daily Times, March 16, 2010), Yasser Latif Hamdani writes: “There is no evidence, let alone ‘overwhelming’ one, of Jinnah’s knowledge of the tribal invasion.” In the next paragraph he quotes Alastair Lamb who writes, “The Governor General, M A Jinnah was kept ignorant of all the details, though naturally he was aware that there was trouble of some sort brewing in Kashmir…” Lamb speaks about Jinnah being kept ignorant about details, not about the event itself.

The relevant portion from NWFP Governor George Cunningham’s quote Hamdani invokes strengthens the inference I draw above. Cunningham remarked, “Apparently Jinnah himself heard first heard of what was going on about 15 days ago, but said, ‘Don’t tell me anything about it. My conscience must be clear’.” In plain English, one can only read it to mean that Jinnah did not want others to know that he knew about the Kashmir campaign. Hamdani calculates that Jinnah first learnt about it around October 10, 1947.

That means 14 days before “tribal warriors backed by Pakistani regulars and irregulars entered Kashmir in the last week of October”, as I wrote earlier. Fourteen days is long enough to put a stop to a misadventure. It was distinctly separate from the uprising in Poonch in August that comprised mainly Poonchis who had served in the Indian and Kashmir armies. The issue at debate is the invasion that started on October 24, 1947, that precipitated the decision of the Maharaja to accede to India. The events that preceded it are not relevant.

Hamdani claims that Major (retired) Agha Humayun Amin makes no claim about Jinnah being in the know about the Kashmir tribal incursion. In his book, The Pakistan Army till 1965 (1999), Amin writes, “The Muslim League’s high command had tasked Mian Iftikharuddin, Minister for Refugees, to prepare a plan aimed at ensuring that the Muslim majority state of Kashmir should join Pakistan. Brigadier Akbar Khan then serving in the Pakistan GHQ wrote an appreciation ‘armed revolt inside Kashmir’ on Mian Iftikharuddin’s request. It appears that Mr Jinnah had tasked Iftikharuddin to plan/handle the Kashmir business” (p 89). Further down, Amin talks of three principal parties that were involved in the whole invasion affair. Of the three, “One side was the Muslim League leaders like Shaukat Hayat (an ex-major), Iftikharuddin and Khurshid Anwar who had been ordered by Mr Jinnah to do something to help the Kashmiri Muslims…” (p 89).

Later Amin writes, “It may be noted that Mr Jinnah had ordered General Gracey the British Acting C-in-C…to attack Kashmir.” Gracey refused because Field Marshal Auchinleck, who was the Supreme Commander of both India and Pakistan, overruled British officers to take part in a war between India and Pakistan. Amin goes on to develop an argument that the Kashmir war was winnable. That is the opinion of a military officer and an author. One need not concur with that.

Hamdani latches on to Amin’s belief in victory in Kashmir and makes this interesting remark, “Jinnah tried to assert himself when he ordered [on October 24 or 25, 1947] the Pakistan Army to mobilise against the Indian Army’s movement towards Srinagar, but he was dissuaded from doing so by what can legally only be called ‘mutiny’ and nothing else.” How very interesting and original indeed! Instead of charging Gracey with mutiny, Jinnah promoted him as Pakistan’s second commander-in-chief in February 1948, which is several months after he allegedly mutinied. Gracey was C-in-C till 1951 when Ayub Khan took over.

Professor Ayesha Jalal has the Kashmir war in her book, The State of Martial Law: The Origins of Pakistan’s Political Economy of Defence (1990). She observes: “One has perforce to conclude that the government of Pakistan with the connivance of the Frontier ministry was actively promoting the sentiments that had encouraged the tribesmen to invade Kashmir. Admittedly, the Pakistani leadership refrained from officially committing the army in Kashmir. But they did so because of the severe shortage of arms and ammunition, not because this was the preferred course of action. If they had been in a position to do so, the Muslim League leaders, with Jinnah’s blessings, would have thrown in the army behind the tribal effort…The commander-in-chief of the Azad forces was a Pakistani army officer, colonel Mohammad Akbar, who went under the pseudonym of ‘General Tariq’ [legendary conqueror of Spain in the 8th century] and was known to be in close contact with Qayum Khan and through him with Jinnah and the League leaders in Karachi” (pp 58-9).

Hamdani and others who want us to believe that an obscure colonel forced Pakistan into a war without the knowledge of the top political leadership, especially someone of the stature of Jinnah, are insulting common sense. If that were true, then why did Jinnah not order Akbar Khan to be tried for gross insubordination that was tantamount to treachery? Akbar Khan should have been court-martialled. He was not, because he had acted only after clearance from the very top. Before he became really ill in June 1948, Jinnah exercised real power and authority and made key decisions. Liaquat Ali Khan was practically his sidekick.

In April 1948, Gracey was convinced by Jinnah to send troops into Kashmir. By that time some arms had been procured from Britain, writes Brian Cloughley in his book, A History of the Pakistan Army: Wars and Insurrections (2000). Thus officially Pakistan and India were at war from April 21, 1948. Cloughley notes that May 1948 onwards, India began to enjoy the upper hand, but the war remained stalemated with neither side scoring victory (pp 20-21). Major-General (retired) Shaukat Riza reached the same conclusion, that neither side could win the war in Kashmir in his book, The Pakistan Army 1947-1949 (1989). Under the circumstances, it was not extended to Punjab, but would have had India felt it needed to checkmate Pakistan. That is what I concluded in my previous article.

Jinnah was a poker player who projected invincibility even when he was dealt a bad hand by fate, asserts Hamdani. It is a peculiar way to sum up Jinnah’s politics, to say the least. I am convinced that if the Kashmir gamble had succeeded, Miss Jinnah, Soraya Khurshid, Yasser Hamdani and many others would have described it as yet another marvellous poker gambit of Jinnah. Our heroes never make a wrong move. If they do we feign ignorance about it.

Ishtiaq Ahmed is a Visiting Research Professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) and the South Asian Studies Programme at the National University of Singapore. He is also Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Stockholm University. He has published extensively on South Asian politics. At ISAS, he is currently working on a book, Is Pakistan a Garrison State? He can be reached at isasia@nus.edu.sg

Source: Daily Times

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  1. nice share…a good information

  2. Tujhe angraizi nahin yeh tera sub say bara masala hai. If you had known what this article meant you would know that your favorite Ishtiaq Ahmed is actually abusing the Quaid-e-Azam.

    Btw… Ishtiaq Ahmed’s latest article… us kay baray mein socha toonay?

  3. hahahahah….
    YLH nay apnay kaprhay utar diye….

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