Khurshid Hasan Khurshid, the private secretary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah was sent by him in the first week of October, 1947 to deliver some important messages to the Muslim leaders in Kashmir and to assess the ground situation in the state. After having met with people from different spheres in Kashmir, K.H. Khurshid sent back a detailed note to Muhammad Ali Jinnah in which he informed him that the major events which had taken place in the state during the last two months suggested that Maharaja’s intentions were by no means good. He was dead set against accession to Pakistan and was favouring India. Khurshid advised that Pakistan should think in terms of fighting because diplomatic pressure had already failed and any peaceful struggle in the state was of no use. The full text of his letter has been reproduced below:
12 October 1947
My Dear Sir,
I reached Srinagar on the evening of the 2nd instant and ever since I have been overwhelmed by all sorts of reports and information furnished by my friends, acquaintances and stray visitors. I have made a summary of what I have heard and seen and what I believe to be true. I sifted the information received, verified it through other sources and have prepared the enclosed papers. Perhaps many of the things have already reached you from other sources but I have made a comprehensive report and also given my opinion and made suggestions. I am afraid it is rather lengthy and may appear to be superfluous at places, but whatever I thought was necessary to be placed before you has been typed down.
I do hope, Sir, that you and Miss Jinnah are in the best of health.
With my respectful and kind regards,
[K. H.] KHURSHID
Note by K. H. Khurshid:
12 October 1947
Events in Kashmir have been moving very fast ever since the release of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as an act of ”Royal Clemency”. Other members of his party, who were either imprisoned or detained last year in connection with the ”Quit Kashmir” agitation, have also been released. But the Muslim Conference people continue to rot in jails.
Side by side, the State is getting rid of Muslims who held positions of any significance in the State forces. The Army now stands cleared of all Muslim and European officers who have been all replaced by Hindu Dogra Rajputs.
The position appears to be that the Maharaja is dead set against Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. He is reported to have said that even though his body be cut into seven hundred pieces, he would not accede to Pakistan. And, therefore, he is preparing to meet any and every eventuality. The State today is a hotbed of dirty court intrigues and all sorts of maneuvers and machinations are going on the part of the Government to disrupt the Musalmans and suppress the popular feeling in favour of Pakistan. But there are practical difficulties in the way of the Government in making public their intentions for some time to come. A well-informed Dogra official told me that it was mostly a question of rifles. If Pakistan had more rifles than Kashmir has, the latter would join Pakistan.
Given below is the position, as it can be gauged from facts and recent events that have taken place in the State, of the Government and various political elements:
Whether a decision to accede to the Indian Union has been taken or not, every action of the Government unmistakably points towards the road to Delhi. The Maharaja is getting rid of all undesirable or doubtful people around him. His uncle has taken over as Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister (a new post) is one Mr. Ram Lal Batra, a nominee of Sardar Patel, and he keeps continually moving between Srinagar and Delhi.
The release of Sheikh Abdullah has been effected with the sole aim of giving the impression to the outside world that Kashmir’s accession to India, when announced, will have the support of the biggest political party in the State. It is also being said in local political circles and the press that if an agreement is reached between Pakistan and India on the question of ascertaining the wishes of the people of an Indian State before she accedes to either Dominion, Abdullah and party will be promised a few seats in the Government in return of their support to accession to India.
Work on the road connecting East Punjab and Jammu is going on apace. Thanks to floods in the Ravi, the work has suffered heavily, and a considerable delay has been caused in its completion. Another road connecting Jammu and Srinagar is also underway of construction, because the existing one is not open to traffic during the three months of winter and it is hoped that this new road will be trafficable perennially. Petrol supplies, which were stopped by the Deputy Commissioner of Rawalpindi, are now coming by air from Delhi. Not in a mood to take any risks at all, the Government is deploying Dogra troops all over the State. Fresh contingents have been sent to border areas of Gilgit and Poonch. It is persistently rumored that Gurkha and Sikh troops of the Indian Dominion are awaiting orders to march into the State on the border of Kashmir-East Punjab. The removal of Muslims and other non-Hindu officers of the Army speaks for itself.
When winter sets in, roads to Gilgit will be blocked and Kashmir will be practically cut off from the rest of the world if the Rawalpindi-Srinagar road is not open to free traffic as at present. Only military vehicles and some few private cars are now running on this road due to shortage of petrol.
The tribes on the Gilgit-Chitral border and Poonch-NWFP border have warned the Maharaja against accession to India. As a matter of fact, the State forces have already come into clash with armed Muslims in Poonch. A goodly number of State troops is engaged there.
All these factors plus the fact that no political party has as yet supported accession to India except some Punjabi Hindus of Jammu, are standing in the way of Maharaja making his declaration.
B. MUSLIM CONFERENCE
The Muslim Conference now is practically a dead organization. With all its leaders either jailed, imprisoned, detained or extemed, there is hardly anybody to carry on the work. Whatever was left of the organization, was damaged by the controversy between Mirwaiz and Ch. Hamidullah, both of whom are now externed. But there is a very strong undercurrent of popular feeling in favour of Pakistan, to utilize and exploit which there is nobody here. Spontaneous demonstrations are being held in different parts of the city and the State but there is nobody to mobilize these scattered elements.
C. NATIONAL CONFERENCE
They are in a queer position. It is a well-known fact that Abdullah never had any non-Muslim following in the State, and now his followers feel that as Pakistan has been established and the League-Congress controversy is at an end, the State should accede to Pakistan. That is the reason why since his release Abdullah has been making equivocal statements. I am enclosing herewith the full text of one of his recent speeches, as published by the official paper of his party.
He has made a number of other speeches more or less on similar lines and so far he has made the following points:
- The primary question before us (Abdullah’s party) is that of the establishment of responsible government and freedom of the people of the State. I still stick to ‘Quit Kashmir’ and that is our main demand. The question of accession to India or Pakistan is a secondary one.
- The Muslim League holds that sovereignty rests with rulers and princes (this is an obvious misrepresentation of our interpretation of the position of States that paramountcy does not lapse but has reverted to the Indian States) of Indian States. The League neglects the poor and the masses for the sake of Nizam.
- I have personal grudges against Mr. Jinnah who called me goondas and who said ‘Quit Kashmir’ was the cry of a few miscreants. But I am prepared to let bygones be bygones and not let personal feelings influence our decision.
- We will join him that supports our freedom demands but we have also to consider our economic position, our trade and commerce and other things. We will not be led by sentiments and I shall revolt if the Maharaja accedes to either Dominion without popular approval. Let us get our freedom first and then as free people we shall give our verdict in favour of one or the other dominion.
In private talks with some of his own followers who went to convince him of the futility of his present stand, he is reported to have said that Mr. Jinnah should write to him and invite him for talks, but there will be only one basis i.e. the League should support the movement for the establishment of responsible government in the State.
He has also given it out privately that the Maharaja had expressed his willingness to accede to the Indian Dominion but Sardar Patel refused and told the Maharaja plainly that if responsible government was not established in the State, they would not accept Kashmir’s accession. He then asks why cannot the Muslim League do the same? The League has accepted the right of Rulers to decide the fate of the people, he contends.
The Punjabi and Dogra Hindus of Jammu and the Kashmiri Pandits have sent a memorandum to the Maharaja asking him to accede to India. But the release of Abdullah has brought about a change in them. They have now allied themselves with the National Conference. Of course, they are weathercocks and their only desire is to save their skins.
In the light of the above, I am personally of the opinion, Sir, that Pakistan must think in terms of fighting (not to use war) as far as Kashmir is concerned. The other side has practically not only decided upon it but is ready for it. Diplomatic pressure has so far failed. The latitude that we have been giving has only served in misinterpreting us in the sense that Pakistan is regarded as weak and about to crash. Of course, we must go on trying as we are but we must not neglect the fighting side of it. Even if unity is established amongst Musalmans and even if a referendum is held and results in a favourable verdict for Pakistan, the Maharaja cannot be trusted for a moment to abide by it, nor the Indian Government with not accepting Kashmir’s accession in spite of an adverse verdict.
All that Pakistan has to be ready for in such an eventuality is to supply arms and foodstuffs to the tribes within and without the State who are already sharpening their weapons. The local population can hardly carry on a peaceful movement for more than a fortnight. Successful strategy on behalf of Pakistan will leave the Maharaja with only some barren tracks of hilly south adjacent to East Punjab.
This might sound fantastic but there is hardly any means of telling how the Maharaja is thinking. We should not be caught unawares, and the only way is to prepare ourselves to meet every eventuality.
As regards how can be established between the people of the State and our people across the border, I may say, Sir, that Major Khurshid Anwar (of Muslim National Guards) is already in Rawalpindi and he can very well be trusted with the work of liaison as he belongs to the State and knows the frontier areas very well.
I would also suggest, Sir, that if you could issue a statement with regard to Kashmir it will help our people here and clarify the League position vis-a-vis the Indian States. As President of the Muslim League, Sir, you can demand the release of the Muslim Conference detainees who have not even been tried, especially now that every other political prisoner and detainees are set free. Besides the position of League, if clarified and reasserted, will take the ground off Abdullah’s feet. I am not suggesting this because I have been provoked by Abdullah’s utterings, but because I feel that many of our people are being misled and believe that the League is really letting them down. I suggest, Sir, that the following form part of the statement or anything else to the same effect:
- It has been brought to my notice that there is some misunderstanding with regard to the policy of the Muslim League concerning the Indian States in certain quarters and some interested persons are deliberately misrepresenting the Muslim League to serve their own purpose and misguiding the Musalmans in the Indian States.
- According to the Plan of June 3rd which has been accepted by both Congress and the Muslim League, paramountcy in respect of Indian States which rested with the Crown reverted to the Indian States. The legal and constitutional position, therefore, was, and remains, that it is the Ruler as the head of an Indian State who can negotiate on behalf of his State and take the final decision to join one or the other Dominion. The 500 odd States that have acceded to Indian Union and others which have acceded to Pakistan have followed the same procedure. This cannot be modified or changed except by agreement between the two Dominions and with the concurrence of the Rulers of Indian States. We are ready and Pakistan has already expressed its willingness to negotiate with the Indian Government on the basis and conditions under which they would agree that the question of accession be referred to the people of Indian States.
- The Muslim League has always stood for the right of self-determination of the people all over the world and it was this principle which formed the basis of Pakistan demand by the Muslim League. This is a question entirely different from the interpretation of the position of the States under the Plan, etc.
I have suggested, Sir, in my crude way as to what should be done by the Muslim League and Pakistan with regard to Kashmir. The difficulties here are that the Muslim Conference hasn’t got any press and even the neutral press is muzzled. If by a slight mistake our people here give opportunity to the Government to use force, I have no doubt in my mind, Sir, that Dogra troops will enter every house and seize the Muslims and shoot them.
I have just now heard that Sheikh Abdullah has sent one of his lieutenants, Mr. G. M. Sadiq, to Lahore to see Mr. Liaquat Ali. Beyond this, nothing is known yet.