Kashmir: The Storm center of the World
Table of Contents
   About the Author
   Abode of Kashyap
   The Making of J&K
   Hundred Years of Dogra Rule
   Quit Kashmir Movement
   Hari Singh's Dilemma
   Accession to India
   First Indo-Pak War
   Bungling at U.N.
   Kashmir Divided
   The Dixon Proposals
   Shadow of Cold War
   The Chinese Factor
   Indo-Pak War of 1965
   Indo-Pak War of 1971
   The Great Betrayal
   Back to Square One
   War by Proxy
   The Way Out
   Book in pdf format  
   Official Site  

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Chapter 11

Shadow of Cold War

The developments leading to the dismissal and arrest of Sh. Abdullah in August 1953 and the signing of USA - Pak Military Pact early in 1954 were closely linked up with the cold war politics of the two power blocs. They in their turn contributed to a further intensification of the cold war in regard to Kashmir which made an objective approach and a negotiated settlement of the problem inside or outside the U.N.O. all the more difficult.

Internally, these developments were closely linked up with Sh. Abdullah's personal ambition to secure absolute power for himself in the Kashmir valley. To aehieve this end, he leaned first on the Communists who gave him the idea of independent Kashmir but later moved toward the west, particularly the USA to the great chagrin of the Communists.

The opportunity to cultivate the friendship of the Western leaders and secure their sympathy for his pet plan was provided to him by his successive visits to Europe and the USA as a member of the Indian delegation to the United Nations. The ruling circles in the USA had already veered round to the idea of a partition of Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan more or less on the basis of 'status quo' with freedom for Kashmir valley to decide about its own future through a plebiscite under U.N. auspices. This fitted in well with Sh. Abdullah's own ambition. He therefore, felt encouraged to give out his mind in an interview to Michael Davidson of Sunday Observer and New Scotsman in May 1949. He was reported to have said, "Accession to either side cannot bring peace. We want to live in friendship with both Dominions. Perhaps a middle path between them with economic cooperation with each will be the only way of doing it".

The Government of India was taken aback by this statement of Sh. Abdullah. Sardar Patel, who had by that time integrated over 500 princely States but had scrupulously refrained from taking interest in the handling of Kashmir problem because of Pt. Nehru's insistence upon treating it as his close preserve, for once thought it necessary to put his foot down on Sh. Abdullah's amibition. His one frown made Sh. Abdullah realise that he could not take support of New Delhi for granted.

The incident made Abdullah uneasy and fearful of Sardar Patel who as Home Minister was getting authentic reports. About Sh. Abdullah's activities and policies which showed that he had scant respect for India's wider national interests and the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Ladakh regions. But commitment of the Government of India about plebiscite had enboldened him so much that he began to act as an arbiter. He retaliated by expelling Colonel Hassan Walia, the chief of Indian Intellegence outfit in Kashmir. It was a direct challenge to Sardar Patel who as Home Minister was in charge of central intelligence agencies. He summoned Abdullah to Delhi for explanation. Sh. Abdullah took his patron Pt. Nehru along with him when he met the Sardar at his residence.

According to Sh. Abdullah, Sardar Patel gave him a bit of his mind. He told Pt. Nehru in his presence that India had lost the game, and should better pullout of the valley. 1

Being a nationalist and realist Sardar Patel had better grasp of the developing situation in Jammu and Kashmir state particularly after the publication of Dixon proposals. If he had his way he would have put Sh. Abdullah in his place, integrated Jammu and Ladakh regions with India and allowed Abdullah and his Kashmiri followers to fend for themselves in the valley. Plebiscite, if held, would have exposed secularism of Sh. Abdullah and his flock. The valley then might have gone the way of other Muslim majority regions of the State. Sh. Abdullah would have then cooled his heels in some jail of Pakistan.

The death of Sardar Patel toward the end of 1950 removed from the Indian scene the one man who could have kept Sh. Abdullah's ambition in check and cleared the mess that Pt. Nebru had made in Kashmir by his unrealistic and erratic handling of the problem from the very beginning. Sardar Patel, himself told the present writer when the latter requested him to do something about Kashmir, that he would set things right there in one month, but he was not prepared to take the initiative unless Pt. Nebru specifically requested him to do so. Whether it was gentleman's agreement between the two giants of the Indian politics not to interfere with each other's sphere of activity or deliberate self-denial on the part of Sardar Patel, it is difficult to say. But the fact remains that while Sardar Patel, was able to integrate 500 and add princely states including Hyderabad with great efficiency and success within two years. Pt. Nehru made a mess of Kashmir in spite of the huge sacrifices in men and material and camplete and unstinted support of the nation to him in the matter. With the passage of time even the worst critics of Sardar Patel have begun to admit that left to him the Kashmir issue would have been settled long ago in keeping with national honor and national interests. That will remain in the eyes of history, which is no respecter of personalities. The measure of Sardar Patel's greatness as a statesman and administrator as compared to Pt. Nehru whose handling of Kashmir issue will go down in history as an epitome of the failure of a man who with the best of opportunities and favorable circumstances made a mess of everything he handled.

Deterioration in the internal situation of the State after that was as rapid as it was disconcerting for India. Elections to the Constituent Assembly of the State were held in 1951. But they were so conducted that most of the candidates of the Praja Parishad, the only Opposition party in the State, were eliminated at the nomination stage by rejecting their nomination papers. The rest were forced to withdraw for want of assurance that elections would be fair and free. As a result, all the 75 nominees of Sh. Abdullah's National Conference got elected unopposed.

The Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir was supposed to ratify the accession of the State to India and adopt the Indian Constitution, in the rnaking of which Sh. Abdullah and three other representatives from the State had an equal hand, for the State as well. But Sh. Abdullah gave it quite a different idea of its powers and scope from the very beginning. He told it that it was "one hundred percent sovereign" and that "no Parliament, be it that of India or of any other country, has authorization here." Referring to independence as a possible solution he observed on March 25, 1952, "suppose for the sake of argument that the people do not ratify this accession the position that will follow, would not be that as a matter of course Kashmir becomes a part of Pakistan. No, that would not happen. That cannot happen legally or constitutionally. What would happen in such eventuality would be that the State would regain the status which it enjoyed im mediately preceeding the accession. Let us be clear about it."

Simultaneously, he began to speak in the same strain outside the Assembly. His main object thus appeared to be to put pressure on the Government of India to make definite commitment about same sort of independence for Kashmir before the Constituent Assembly ratified accession. Thus he secured a free hand to abolish the Dogra ruling dynasty and have a separate flag and Constitution for the State. Accordingly the hereditary Dogra ruler as the head of the State was replaced by an elected president called Sadar-i-Riyasat, the red flag of the National Conference was adopted as the State flag and machinery was set up for drafting a separate Constitution for the State while the question of ratification of accession was kept pending.

These separatist moves and utterances of Sh. Abdullah sent a wave of resentrnent in Jammu and Ladakh as also in the rest of India. The Praja Parished launched a movement for the integration of the State with the rest of India like other acceding States with a ccmmon Constitution, a common President and a cc m mon flag. The popular discontent against discriminatory economic and administrative policies of Sh. Abdullah's Government with regard to Jammu added strength to this movement which spread to every nook and corner of Jammu region. Thousands of people courted arrest and about two score persons were shot dead for hoisting the Indian tricolour on the State buildings in Jammu and for raising the slogans-

"Ek Desh Men Do Vidhan
Ek Desh Men Do Nishan

Ek Desh Men Do Pradhan
Nahin Chalenge-Nahin Chalenge."

(Two Constitutions, two Presidents and two Flags in the same country will not be tolerated.)

The patriotic sufferings of the people of Jammu found sympathetic response from nationalist India spearheaded by the late Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerji who, ever since his resignation from the Nehru Cabinet in April 1950, had been unofficially acclaimed as Leader of the Opposition even though his own party, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, could return only three members to the first Parliament of free India elected in 1952. He took up the cudgels on behalf of the Praja Parishad inside and outside the Indian Parliament. Having failed to persuade Pt. Nehru to sit round a table with the representatives of the people of Jammu and Laddakh and meet their gnuine and patriotic objections to the separatist policies of sh. Abdullah, he decided to extend the Satyagraha started by the Praja Parishad in Jarnmu to the rest of India.

Sh. Abdullah, who had the full backing of Pt. Nehru, instead of relenting became more obdurate and aggressive. He intensified repression and many people were killed for hoisting the national flag. As the reports of this repression travelled out of the State, Shyama Prasad Mookerji decided to visit Jammu and see things for himself. He asserted that as a citizen of free India and a Member of the Parliament he was free to go anywhere in the country without any kind of permit and, therefore, proceeded toward Jammu without an entry permit in May 1953. It was expected that he would be arrested by the Government of India for this defiance. But instead he was allowed to cross the Ravi bridge at Madhopar and enter the State to be arrested by the State authorities. This was arranged deliberately to keep him out of the jurisdiction of the Indian Supreme Court which would have surely released him on a reference being made to it.

Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerji along with Vaidya Guru Dutt, a leading physician and well known writer, who accompanied him as his personal physician were taken to Srinagar and detained there. After about a month, on June 23, 1953, Dr. Mookerji died there in mysterious circumstances. Unofficial probe pointed to medical murder. It sent a wave of resentment all over India.

In the meantime within the National Conference as also in Sh. Abdullah's Cabinet a rift was developing. The pro-Communist elements which had been the staunchest protagonists of the independence for Kashmir had been alarmed by Sh. Abdullah's tilt toward Anglo-American camp which had become very marked after his last visit to Paris toward the end of 1951. Sh. Abdullah, it appeared, had realized that his dream of an independent Kashmir was more likely to come true with the help of the Anglo-American bloc which dominated the U.N.O. and the Security Council than the Communist bloc. He had therefore, begun to shift his allegiance from his Communist friends inside and outside Kashmir to the Western countries. As the Praja Parishad movement for fuller integration of the State with the rest of India gathered momentum, he began to rouse the communal sentiments in Kashmir in the name of Kashmiri nationalism and demonstrate his indifference and disdain for the susceptibilities of the people of Jammu and the Government of India in different ways. The trend became particularly evident after the visit of Mr. Adlai Stevenson to Srinagar early in May 1953. This alarmed the pro-Communist Ministers of his cabinet. They now turned against him. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, the right-hand man of Sh. Abdullah, joined hands with them. These internal developments coupled with the pressure from outside resulting from Dr. Mookerji's martyrdom made Sh. Abdullah desperate. But before he could show his hand by dismissing the dissident Ministers and making a formal declaration of his plan about independent Kashmir, Yuvraj Karan Singh, the only son of Maharaja Hari Singh, uho had been made 'Sadar-i-Riyasat' - head of State - after the abolition of the hereditary rule of the Dogra dynasty dismissed Sh. Abdullah and commissioned Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed to form a new Cabinet. Sh. Abdullah was soon after arrested under Defence of Kashmir Rules.

This sudden turn of events took by surprise both Pakistan and the USA which had begun to lay great hopes on Sh. Abdullah for a solution of the Kashmir problem suiting their ends. Their chagrin was clear from the hostile comments in their press.

The Communists, inside India and outside, on the other hand, hailed the overthrow of Sh. Abdullah as a victory for themselves and started denouncing the USA in the strongest terms. They thus successfully exploited the popular feeling roused by the Jan Sangh and Sh. Abdullah's separatist policies for creating an anti-A.nerican hysteria in India.

The pro-Communist bias of India's neutralist foreign policy and the persistent support given by the USSR and other Communist countries to India's stand on Kashmir in the Security Council coupled with the failure of Indian external publicity to properly educate the American public opinion about the justice of India's case contributed to Pakistan's success in creating a powerful anti-India lobby in the U.S. press and Congress. Many Americans genuinely began to feel that India was moving toward the Communist bloc and that Pakistan could be an asset, particularly because of the strategic situation of Gilgit for containing the spread of Communism in Asia if it could be persuaded to join the Baghdad Pact which was later re-Christened as Central Treaty Organization (CENTO).

At the same time there was a visible pro-American shift in Pakistan's foreign poliey particu1arly after the assassination of its Prime Minister, Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan in 1952. Even otherwise, the very genesis of Pakistan demanded that her foreign policy should rlm counter to that of India. Having been born out of hatred for the Hindus and Hindusthan, Pakistan's very existence required that India was presented to her people as their chief enemy and everything was done to strengthen Pakistan vis-a-vis India.

By the end of 1953, it became evident that negotiations for a military pact between Pakistan and the USA were moving toward a successful conclusion. The signing of the pact was formally announced early in 1954.

India reacted very strongly to this pact which meant substantial augmentation of military strength of Pakistan with free supplies of armaments from the USA Pt. Nehru referred to this situation in his letter of March 5, 1954, to Mr. Mohammed Ali, the Pakistan Premier. He wrote "the U.S. decision to give this aid has changed the whole context of Kashmir issue and the long talks we have had about this matter have little relation to the new facts which flow from this aid...." It changed the whole approach to the Kashmir problem. It takes it out from the region of peaceful approach for a friendly settlement by bringing in the pressure of arms."

Pakistan on its part strongly resented the declarations of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed after his assumption of power that accession of Jammu and Kashmir State to India was full, final and irrevocable. The actual ratification of accession by the Kashmir Constituent Assembly soon after further irritated her.

A s a result, the area of disagreement about the Quantum of forces to be retained by either side which appeared to have been considerably narrowed by the direct talks of the two premiers became wider than ever before. Pt. Nehru insisted that in the new situation created by the abundant supply of military aid to Pakistan from the USA, "what we said at a previous stage about the quantum of force had little relevance. We can take no risks now as we were prepared to take previously and we must retain full liberty to keep such forces and military equipment in the Kashmir State as we may consider necessary in view of this new threat to us."

Direct negotiations having thus foundered on the rock of U. S. Pak Military Pact, Pakistan Premier, Mr. Mohammed Ali, informed Pt. Nehru in his letter of September 21, 1954, that "in the cireumstances I am bound to conclude that there is no scope left for further direct negotiations between you and me for the settlement of this dispute. This case, therefore, must revert to the Security Council."

Pakistan, however, took two and a half years after the failure of direct negotiations to request the Security Council to take up the Kashmir issue once again. The request was made by Malik Feroz Khan Noon, the Pakistan Foreign Minister cn January 2, 1957, and the Security Council resumed debate on Kashmir an after interval of nearly five years on the 16th of the same month.

Meanwhile, the situation inside the State as also the attitude and approach of both the countries to the proble m had undergone a lot of change. Within the State, the most significant development was the unanimous decision of the Constituent Assembly to ratify the accession and the specific declaration in the Constitution adopted by it on November 17, 1956, that "the State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral pnrt of the Union of India." This strengthened the hands of the Government of India which could assert with justification that the people of the State had given their democratic verdict in favor of accession to India.

While the unanimous decision of the Constituent Assembly strengthened the Indian position, the re- organization of "Plebiscite Front and Political Conference" by pro-Abdullah elements in Kashmir valley and their open demand for a plebiscite and accession to Pakistan strengthened the hands of Pakistan politically. Militarily, her position had vastly improved because of the massive flow of the latest armaments of all types together with military experts from the USA. As a result, the attitude of the rulers of Pakistan became more aggressive. Apart from carrying on a diplomatic offensive against India all over the world, they began to actively organize and encourage acts of sabotage through their agents within the State.

As a reaction, India began to lean more and more upon the USSR and her satellites which gave a further pro- Communist tilt to her foreign policy. The visit to India of Marshal Bulganin, the USSR Premier, and Mr. Khruschev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, toward the end of 1955 and their open declaration at Srinagar of December 10, 1955 "that the question of Kashmir as one of the States of the Republic of India had already been decided by the people of Kashmir" made the alignment of the USSR with India on the question of Kashmir as explicit as that of the USA with Pakistan. The cold war had now entered Kashmir itself. It began to be looked upon as one of the storm centers of the world like West Berlin where the interests of the two giants clashed directly.

The situatian forced Pt. Nehru to do some re-thinking about the stand he hac taken regarding Kashmir. Doubts as said earlier, had already begun to assail him about the wisdom of the offer about plebiscite which was bound to be influenced by religious considerations whenever and however it was held. The behavior of Sh. Abdullah also shook him. The tone of his utterances about Kashmir therefore changed. He began to voice his opposition to plebiscite openly and the Indian Home Minister, late Pt. Pant, declared that Kashmir was an integral and irrevocable part of India.

This change of attitude was reflected in the stand taken by the Chief Indian delegate, Krishna Menon, when the Security Council resumed debate on Kashmir. India for the first tirne explicitly charged Pakistan of direct aggression and declared that she had no obligatiaon to discharge till the aggression was vacated. Indra's voluntary offer to consult the people, he said had been redeemed through elections to the constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir whose actions were "declaratory and not creative." The legal right of India over the whole of Jammu and Kashmir State, he asserted, flowed from the lawful accession of the State by Maharaja Hari Singh which was full, final and irrevocable.

Some hope of a negotiated settlement outside the UN rose once again after the Military coup in Pakistan which brought Marshal Ayub Khan to the helm of affairs in Pakistan in 1959. As a soldier he had a greater consciousness of the indivisibility of the Indo-Pak defense against possible aggression from Communist China to meet which Indo-Pak amity was essential. He needed it to stabilize his own position as well. Furthermore, he was in a position in the early days of his new found power to take a decision even against the popular sentiments of the Pakistani people. He was even more keen for the settlement of the Canal Waters dispute in which India had a whip hand over Pakistan. Had Indian diplomacy shown any grasp of realities, it would have insisted upon a package deal embracing all Indo-Pak disputes such as the Canal Waters, Kashmir, evacuee property, paratition debt and treatment of the Hindu minority in East Pakistan. But Pt. Nehru bungled once again. A Ganal Water Treaty was signed at Karachi in 1960 which gave Pakistan much more favorable terms than suggested by the World Bank Award.

With that ended, the short lived Indo-Pak dentente brought about more by personal relations between Mr. Rajeshwar Dayal, the Indian High Commissioner at Karachi, and Marshall Ayub who happened to know each other well since pre-partition days than by a real change of heart on both sides. The old game of mutual accusation began once again. Communist Russia saw in the military regime of Marshal Ayub a greater threat to her position in Ausia and, therefore, became more vociferous in her support to India over Kashmir. She began to use her veto to prevent any resolution to which India was opposed, being passed by the Security Council.

This reduced the discussions in the Security Council to just debating bouts between itriolic Krishna Menon of India and suave and swifty Zaffarullah Khan of Pakistan who began to exploit that world forum to malign India by repeating baseless charges against her which were given wide publicity all over the world.

As a result, world opinion began to be influenced in favor of pakistan. There could be no greater condemnation of the Indian Foreign policy and its exponents that the people all over the world have a greater understanding and appreciation of Pakistan's point of view about Kashmir than that of India in spite of the truth and justice of the Indian case.

While these pointless exercises in histrionics were going on in New York, Communist China had starated fishing in the troubled waters of Kashmir cutting across the cold war politics of both USA and the USSR.

The entry of Communist China on the Kashmir stage as a third claimant to large chunks of its territories introduced a new factor in the Kashmir situation; it gave a new turn to the Kashmir problem.


1. Atish-i-Chinar, Page 513.

Kashmir: The Storm Center of the World



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