Jinnah’s role in the Kashmir War — by Yasser Latif Hamdani

The Supreme Commander of both Indian and Pakistan forces Sir Claude Auchinleck followed Mounbatten’s policy and advised the C in C of Pakistan Army to openly defy orders of the Pakistan Governor General

In his article ‘The 1947-48 Kashmir War’ (Daily Times, March 16, 2010), Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed has insinuated that there is overwhelming evidence that Jinnah not only knew about but was instrumental in the organisation of the invasion of Kashmir led by General Akbar Khan.

In this, Dr Ahmed claims to have relied on Major (retired) Agha Humayun Amin’s History of the Pakistan Army, though that book itself makes no such claim nor cites any overwhelming evidence. The chapter on Kashmir War does, however, praise Jinnah for his “leadership” in the war and for his “initiative”. Major (retired) Amin waxes eloquent about how Jinnah was a great leader — a rock even — of men, who might have wrested Kashmir had he on his side a Patel, which Nehru in India was lucky to have.

These glowing left-handed tributes to Jinnah’s decisive leadership on the Kashmir issue seem quite out of place when one considers that Jinnah’s direct orders for mobilisation of the Pakistan Army were defied by the first Commander-in-Chief, General Gracey, and Jinnah had no choice but to back down. Any biographer of the man will tell you that Jinnah’s greatness was never in any real superhuman strength but his ability to project invincibility where there was none. He was always the poker player dealt repeatedly a bad hand by fate. This is what makes Jinnah one of the most fascinating characters in modern history.

The issue of whether Jinnah knew about it is a contentious one, primarily because there is no evidence, let alone ‘overwhelming’ one, of Jinnah’s knowledge of the tribal invasion. On the contrary, the evidence as well as consensus amongst the majority of the students of the Kashmir dispute is that, sitting in Karachi in the first two months of Pakistan’s creation, Jinnah was entirely ignorant of the tribal invasion till at least October 10, 1947, when it was officially underway in the north.

Here it is pertinent to quote Alastair Lamb, the author of Incomplete Partition, who says on page 137 of this book: “What part had the government of Pakistan to play in this venture into the military venture into the state of Jammu and Kashmir?…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, and the Pakistan cabinet did not take a minuted stance.”

Fatima Jinnah confirms this as well. Sorraya Khurshid, the wife of K H Khurshid and sister to Khalid Hasan, writes in her book Memories of Fatima Jinnah on page 87 that Fatima Jinnah told her that Jinnah had no clue about the tribal invasion. She is quoted as saying, “In fact, he did not know anything about it [Kashmir attack by tribals] at all and was very sorry that a thoughtless step had been taken in such a crude and unorganised manner.”

George Cunningham also seconds the view that Jinnah was unaware of the tribal invasion till very late. He is quoted in the book Sir George Cunningham: A Memoir (Blackwood, 1968), on page 140 as saying: “On October 25, Colonel Iskandar Mirza arrived from Lahore. He told me all the underground history of the present campaign against Kashmir, and brought apologies from Liaquat Ali for not letting me know anything about it sooner. Liaquat had meant to come here last week and tell me about it personally but was prevented by his illness…Apparently Jinnah himself 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’…It was decided apparently about a month ago that the Poonchis should revolt and should be helped. Abdul Qayyum was in it from the beginning.”

The issue to my mind is an academic one. It is quite possible that despite all the evidence pointing to the contrary, Jinnah was in complete control and was organising the insurgency sitting in Karachi. However, the issue at hand is how historical inaccuracies are invented and then recycled by academics who use their credentials to hedge all criticism levelled at them for glaring omissions or inaccuracies in their work. Dr Ahmed’s piece has now been quoted by many armchair generals in the great war of history being waged in the sewers of that monstrosity humanity has invented for itself called the web.

The fact is that Dr Ahmed had no basis to claim “overwhelming evidence” whatsoever. His entire reliance was on one book that only praises Jinnah’s role as the “Father of the Pakistan Army” (actually Jinnah may only be termed as the father of the Indian Army given his role in the founding of Dehradun Military Academy in India) and implies that because he was a man in control, he could not have been in the dark. Major (retired) Amin credits Jinnah for having gotten Pakistan what little Kashmir Pakistan has today whereas Dr Ahmed uses the same to argue that Jinnah had planned the ill-advised invasion of Kashmir.

Both contentions fly in the face of reality however. Jinnah had little or no interest in military matters beyond a political angle — he had campaigned for the Indianisation of the army as an Indian nationalist leader and after Pakistan was created, he had reversed the age-old martial race theory by forming Bengali regiments. Perhaps somewhat exaggerated, but not entirely off the mark, American scholar Stephen Cohen writes in The Idea of Pakistan: “Jinnah cared little for military matters — he told the first commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army, Sir Douglas Gracey, to run things together with Liaquat Ali Khan” (page 102).

To be fair though, Jinnah tried to assert himself when he ordered 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. It would be fair to say that had the Pakistan Army moved at that time, the Kashmir dispute would have been resolved in one fair blow. Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed’s contention that India would have opened a front at Sialkot as they did in 1965 is also erroneous. As the former Kashmiri Prime Minister Mehr Chand Mahajan’s book shows clearly, the document of accession was not signed till the Indian troops were firmly on ground in Srinagar. Swift action then would have saved both Pakistan and India considerable heartbreak that has come their way due to protracted conflict.

The writer can be reached at yasser.hamdani@gmail.com

Source: Daily Times

Related article: Tribal warriors: a response to Farhat Taj – by Ishtiaq Ahmed

4 responses to “Jinnah’s role in the Kashmir War — by Yasser Latif Hamdani”

  1. This article is a clear proof of my hypothesis that history is a virtual subject and the older it is, the more artificiality of ambiguity does it gather to distort its reality. A lot can be manipulated and proved/disproved by the so called books like those of Alastair Lamb to give it a label of credibility. To put a controversy look like a reality is not difficult, if we get bent upon. It is a well known fact in the higher circles and studies.
    Yasser Latif Hamdani’s lament, ” It would be fair to say that had the Pakistan Army moved at that time, the Kashmir dispute would have been resolved in one fair blow.”
    Could I correct him, “…….. in one (un)fair blow”. Mr Hamdani is again trying to distort the fact by his hubris, if not by his naivity.
    Now, let us consider one basic cause of Kashmir invasion by Jinnah. Jinnah had always thought that Kashmir is in his plate, being a majority muslims in the valley. But he did not realise the fact that he has his counterpart (a strong contender), viz. Mr Sheikh Abdullah in Kashmir who was holding the fort through his “National Conference” and the “Muslim Conference” in Kashmir at that time had a very slim command led by Moulvi Yousuf Shah, uncle of slain Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq (father of Mirwaiz Omar Farooq heading the controversial All Party Hurriat Conference in Kashmir under Indian occupation after his father’s assassination).
    During his first and last Kashmir (concealed) visit in May 1944, Jinnah met Sheikh first, who dubbed him.

    Sheikh felt his attitude as “Un-Islamic”, notes J.N.Raina in the Editorial, Asian Tribune (Sat, 2009-09-05 00:13 – editor; Jinnah not secular for Sheikh Abdullah). He further mentions that, ‘annoyed Jinnah sent a telegram to Maharaja Hari Singh, asking him(maharaja) to “crush Abdullah’s goondaism”.’ Because he was garlanded with a necklace of shoes after his remark, “Let the people (of Kashmir) go to hell” when one National Conference leader Ali Mohammad Tariq asked him (Jinnah), “Whether the future of Kashmir would be decided by the people of the state.” Jinnah, arrogant as he was, his reply surprised all and he landed in that unexpected feat.

    It is said that this annoyance with Sheikh was the root cause of such a speedy invasion of Kashmir, well planned and orchestrated by Jinnah long before his even departure for Karachi. Or even long before the partition was actually decided (3rd June 1947).

    Then Sheikh further denied his consent to accede to Pakistan and in stead, accede to India in his first “Speech in the Constituent Assembly” in Kashmir. This is in the official records. I think, Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed may be accepted more closer to history than Alistair Lamb.
    God bless.
    Dr. O. P. Sudrania