WHOSE DECISION IT WAS?
Was the involvement of the tribesmen a personal decision of Khan Abdul Qaiyum Khan and unauthorised by the Central Government? Both Mr. Akbar Khan and Mr. M. Z. Kiani have stated that it was not discussed in the September meeting at Lahore. Lord Birdwood who made a special study of the Kashmir dispute and toured the sub-continent for several months, has stated that the decision was taken in a high level meeting. It may be stated emphatically that it took place with the blessings of the Quaid-e-Azam and Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan. The tribal incursion took place in October 1947 and Khan Abdul Qaiyum Khan continued as Chief Minister not only till the death of the Quaid-e-Azam but until many years later. This is important because if the involvement had taken place without the consent of the Quaid-e-Azam, he could never have been continued in this post because of the vital political and military importance of such a drastic measure. My ten years experience of governmental activity, after watching its working from a very close quarter, has left no room for doubt that, to put it bluntly, in the provinces, even the leaves of trees do not move without the permission of the Central Government. I have no doubt, therefore, that a decision of such vital and far-reaching consequences, as to send thousands of unpredictable tribesmen through Pakistan territory to the Jammu and Kashmir State and to arrange for their arms, transport and supplies, could not have been taken by a provincial Chief Minister on his own. It
was a wise decision. But for it, there may have been no Azad Kashmir and no liberated territory in the Northern regions.
It seems, meetings between Khan Abdul Qaiyum Khan and the Nawab of Mamdot, Chief Minister Punjab, used to be held at the Attock Rest House; that a part of the plan was a simultaneous thrust from Sialkot on Jammu, to cut off the enemy line of communication through Pathankote. It also seems that the responsibility for this thrust was entrusted to Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan.
Khan Abdul Qaiyum told me in an interview that one evening when, on summons from the Quaid-e-Azam, then staying at Lahore, he entered his room, he found that the light was dim and the Quaid-e-Azam was moving to and fro. He appeared very tired and weak. Pointing out that he was perhaps not feeling well, Khan Abdul Qaiyum begged permission to leave and come on any other day but the Quaid-e-Azam signalled a no and motioned him to come closer. When he approached the Quaid-e-Azam, the latter put his hand on his head, made him sit by his side and then after a pause, told him sadly:
"My nation is now free but the experience of the last few months has shown that it is not yet ready for self-rule. The British have left a little early."1
There has also been some criticism about the involvement of the I.N.A. personnel. It is conveniently forgotten that the bulk of the Pakistan Army was out of Pakistan and whatever their strength might have been in the country, the Central Government, except for the Quaid-e-Azam, was so strongly opposed to its involvement in Kashmir that General Gracey, Acting Commander-in-Chief, successfully managed non-compliance with the order of the Quaid-e-Azam to rush a battalion or two to Kashmir.
Unfortunately there is a general prejudice in the Army circles against the INA followers; sometimes and in some cases, it borders on contempt. It is true that they fought against an Army which trained them but it is also true that they were largely inspired by a noble desire to see their country free and motivated by the patriotic urge of fighting for its freedom. Subhash Chandra Bose, it must be conceded in fairness, was no Japanese agent. A patriot, rather than a politician, he collaborated with the Axis powers because it was the only source from where help was forthcoming. Freedom, afterall, is a Cause in which you may
1. Interview on 20-1-1978.
readily accept the assistance of even a devil. It is an irony that those who fought for British War objectives should raise their accusing fingers against those who shed their blood and sacrificed their careers in the Indian Army, for the sub-continent's freedom from British Imperialism.
What was the ultimate result of Pakistan's intervention? Apart from the fact that but for it, Muslims would have been massacred on a much wider scale, it was not without its other positive gains. The foie-most gain was the liberation of approximately 4144 square miles of territory, now known as Azad Kashmir which has thrown back Pakistan's frontier with hostile India to scores of miles beyond its own border. Yet another positive gain which it is still too early to evaluate in its pregnant potentialities, is the liberation of nearly 29,814 square miles in the strategically vital Northern regions that has linked it directly with the People's Republic of China, and thus enabled it to influence the geopolitical course of history in Asia. Among the short-range benefits was the peace and tranquillity that prevailed in the tribal area at a time when large sections of the Army were outside the country which also made it possible to withdraw our troops in bulk from these areas and utilise them in evacuating refugees from East Punjab and assisting in maintaining law and order inside the country. The policy of friendship and fraternity towards the tribesmen, initiated on the birth of Pakistan, needed time to take roots and justify itself; the Kashmir war of liberation provided a solid bridge to take out the tribesmen from their past attitude towards the civil areas to what it now is. Again, it checked the inflow of refugees from the State; but for the war and the prominent attention that happenings in Kashmir attracted all over the world, the Dogra-RSS-Akali axis would have certainly uprooted its entire Muslim population of 32 lakhs and pushed them into Pakistan as destitute refugees, bringing further pressure on the limited resources of this country.