Col. Abdul Haq Mirza, who actively participated in the first two Kashmir Wars, is known for designing the flag of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and many symbols for Azad Kashmir Regular Force – AKRF (which later on was merged in Pakistan Army as AK Regiment). He has published his memoirs “The Withering Chinar” in which he explained the meaning of AJK flag and different symbols of AKRF designed by him. About the flag of AJ&K, he writes:
I am a Kashmir patriot who participated in the combat struggle of 1947-48 to liberate the Muslim State of Jammu and Kashmir from the Dogra-Indian yoke. Unfortunately, the effort got bogged down halfway due to the “cease-fire” enforced by the UN on January 1, 1949. As a mujahid of Kashmir Liberation Movement, I made some humble but significant contributions, well known to my colleagues, both in organising as well leading the combat struggle which I never wanted to drumbeat for personal reasons, particularly when the mission remained unrealised. The flag that led the Kashmir Liberation Movement 1947-48 and adopted as national flag by the Azad Kashmir government and also the distinguishing signs of the military uniform of Azad Kashmir Regular Force (AKRF) that is, the cap badge, the formation signs, and shoulder titles, are some of the conceptual contributions which I made in the organizational field of our national effort. I always feel amply rewarded when I see the flag flying at full mast, respected and saluted at the seat of authority in Azad Kashmir as well as the distinguishing signs worn until recently by my AKRF colleagues and comrades-in-arms before re-organizational changes that transformed them into AK Regiment of Pakistan Army.
I was deeply hurt when a political regime in Azad Kashmir, claiming monopoly over Kashmir Liberation Movement, tried to disfigure the Azad Kashmir flag by sprinkling red clots on it in a bid to convey some whimsical meanings, but Allah had willed to maintain its sanctity. Soon the regime ceased to exist and the symbol of Kashmir Liberation Movement, the national flag of Azad Kashmir, emerged unstained in its original form. It continues to fly over the headquarters of Azad Kashmir government with its old majestic grandeur and that gives me comfort and pleasure. I have faith in Allah that He will preserve the flag which is destined to lead the struggle of the Kashmiris to ultimate victory one day, Insha Allah.
How did it happen?
When the combat struggle of Kashmir Liberation Movement gained momentum in border districts of Muzaffarabad, Poonch and Mirpur as well as Gilgit Agency in the north, it was decided by the high command to set up a Forces Headquarters for overall control and coordination of operations. Sometimes in November 1947, Gen Muhammad Zaman Kiani (commander-in-chief) and late Brig Habibur Rehman, the chief of staff of Kashmir Liberation Forces (re-designated Azad Kashmir Regular Forces) were moved from Rampiari Building Gujrat to D.A.V. College Building Rawalpindi to lay the infrastructure of the Forces HQ. They were joined by some experienced veterans including late Col Akmal (nom de plume Col Kamal who later on commanded Mendhar Sector) to organize and run the stupendous task. As a result of some deep impression created in an earlier discourse, I was sent for by late Brig Habibur Rehman to Rawalpindi and placed as security officer in the Forces Headquarters with various other assignments.
Emergence of the Azad Kashmir’s Flag
Having heard my views in a meeting headed by late Col Akmal, Chairman Organising Committee, I was assigned the task of drawing a befitting flag for the Kashmir Liberation Movement as well the distinguishing signs to be worn by the Azad Kashmir Regular Forces (AKRF).
I wanted to draw the Kashmir flag reflecting our national entity and inspiring faith in our struggle for freedom. I drew inspirations from the national flag of Pakistan, symbolic of an Islamic state, the motivating force behind our struggle.
In the Pakistan national flag, minorities are represented by a white rectangular strip vertically attached to the main piece, while I knew that the sacred colour of minorities in Kashmir (Hindus, Sikhs and Budhs) was saffron and that they were entitled to a lesser space on the Kashmir flag in view of their smaller population percentage in the state as compared to the Pakistani flag.
I knew that Kashmir is a land of four main rivers that is: Indus, Jhelum, Chenab and Ravi which tie the State in eternal bondage to Pakistan like silver ribbons.
With the aforementioned conceptual material, I set out to draw the flag which assumed its present shape and form. Main piece green with crescent and star symbolising Islamic character of the State, a saffron coloured square-piece in the top-left corner sharing flag proportionate to its size, and four silver white bars running horizontally along the base of the main piece identifying the State as land of four rivers. It was approved in toto and adopted straightway.
I never felt that it was some extraordinary performance. I had done nothing beyond the call of duty as a patriot. Should it continue to install faith and pride in the people of Kashmir, enough is my reward.
Excerpted from “The Withering Chinar” by Col. Abdul Haq Mirza