The accession to Pakistan resolution of 19th July, 1947 has almost the same importance in the history of AJ&K as the Lahore Resolution has in the Pakistan Movement. But unfortunately, a section of people, has over the years either tried to make it controversial, or skipped it from discourse on the history of Kashmir or in some cases,  even denied its existence. For instance, Dr. Shabir Choudhry claims that the Muslim Conference’s resolution of 19th July, 1947 was “fraudulently passed”  and has tried to convey that it does not have any legal standing or atleast it did not represent the general mood in the party at that time. He writes, “it must be noted that a Working Committee is the cream of any political party and it normally consists of the party’s most senior and dedicated members. The Working Committee of the Muslim conference unanimously adopted a resolution of the State’s complete independence [on 18th July, 1947]. [Therefore], it becomes apparent that the senior-most members of the Muslim Conference, who worked their way up to become members of the working committee and who had political awareness, carefully considered the future of the state and came to the conclusion that complete independence was the most honorable and acceptable solution for all communities.” The author goes on to claim that the “Muslim Conference wasn’t ideologically, a united party. Choudhry Ghulam Abbas and his followers wanted the State to become part of Pakistan, whereas, Choudhry Hameedullah and his influential friends wanted it to become a sovereign state.”
In order to set the record straight, here we will be discussing the following few points pertaining to this resolution;
1) The Working Committee’s resolution of 18th July, 1947, why it was passed, and whether the Muslim Conference and its acting president Chaudhry Hameedullah really wanted an independent Kashmir?
2) The legal standing of the resolution of 19th July, 1947 and whether it represented the general public opinion or mood of the majority party workers?
The resolution of 18th July, 1947 – why was it passed?
In this connection, famous historian Justice Yusuf Saraf writes that ‘Sardar lbrahim had told him that Ch Hameedullah had shown them, in the Working Committee meeting of 18th July, an unsigned note from Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas Khan scribbled from Jail on a writing pad in which the Acting President had been advised to demand independence for the State.'
Another Muslim Conference leader Abdul Mannan Khalifa confirms that later on Ch Ghulam Abbas wrote another letter and confirmed that the letter that was shown by Ch Hameedullah Khan was indeed written by him and that he (Ghulam Abbas) was advised by Quaid-e-Azam to do so.” Similarly, Sardar Ibrahim Khan also narrated in his book that those who were advocating for an independent Kashmir did claim at that time that they were doing that upon the orders of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Professor Ishaq Qureshi, who alongwith Ch Hameedullah Khan had met Quaid-e-Azam on 11th July, 1947, also claims that Jinnah had told him and Ch Hameedullah Khan to take a stand for an independent Kashmir for the time being. His full statement has been reproduced somewhere else in the same piece.
This claim that Chaudhry Hameedullah Khan was being dictated by the Quaid-e-Azam to take that stand is further authenticated by Jinnah’s own statement of 11th July, 1947;
“the Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference leaders, Chaudhry Hameedullah Khan and Mr. Mohammad Ishaq Qureshi, had an interview with me today and they informed me of the situation there which is making the people restive. [One] question that is engaging the attention of the Muslims of Kashmir is whether Kashmir is going to join the Constituent Assembly of Hindustan or the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. I have already made it clear more than once that the Indian States are free to join either the Pakistan Constituent Assembly or the Hindustan Constituent Assembly or remain independent.”
Did Jinnah want an independent Kashmir?
The next question that should strike one’s mind is why did Jinnah tell Ch Ghulam Abbas and Hameedullah Khan to request Maharaja Hari Singh not to join any of the two dominions? The answer to this question can be found in the correspondence between the Muslim Conference leaders and Jinnah’s private secretary, K.H. Khurshid reproduced by Z.H. Zaidi in Jinnah Papers. On 19th March, 1947, Professor Ishaq Qureshi writes a letter to K.H. Khurshid in which he talks about some “plan” suggested by Jinnah to the Muslim Conference leaders. (K.H. Khurshid’s letters were not available in Jinnah Papers, otherwise things would have been even more clear.) The plan was to “release Muslim Conference from All India affiliation” but Ishaq Qureshi felt that it was unworkable since “[Ram Chandra] Kak is too shrewd to be taken in by our professions. He will at once conclude that the new policy is dictated by the predicament of the [Muslim] League in all India matters. The Maharaja too, will be highly suspicious of the move unless you prepare him for the change through [Nawab of] Bhopal etc.” and because “people will not stand by Maharaja stuff”.
The “plan” word was also used by Agha Shaukat Ali, the then Secretary General of Muslim Conference, in his letter from Reasi jail (dated 24 March, 1947) in which he writes, “the plan that you suggest — I mean keeping aloof from Pakistan for the time being, or giving a bait to Maharaja not to walk into the Congress parlour — do you seriously believe that the Maharaja will be taken in, knowing as he does that he is surrounded by Muslim provinces which can always reduce him to subjection?”
Professor Ishaq Qureshi had later on confirmed that Jinnah had told him and Ch Hameedullah Khan to talk about an independent Kashmir only for the time being:
“In th[e] meeting [with Jinnah on 11 July, 1947] we got the impression that the Quaid-e-Azam was in touch with the Maharaja through some source and that he had, to a great extent, made him agree to acceding to Pakistan. The Quaid-e-Azam told us that the Hindu Congress and Gandhijee were doing their utmost that the State should accede to India and for that end, were frightening him away from the Muslims as well as Pakistan. Therefore, at this stage, I think it is advisable that the Muslims of Kashmir should make no such move which may strengthen the Congress’s goals and disturb the Maharaja. He should be given an opportunity to think it over in a proper mental equilibrium. Therefore, for the time being, you people should demand that the State should remain independent of the two dominions.”
That “source” could have been, in Yusuf Saraf’s opinion, Nawab of Bhopal who was in contact with the Prime Minister of Kashmir, Ram Chandra Kak. Kak, later on, had also met Jinnah on 25th July, 1947. Jinnah was quite optimistic that Kashmir would ultimately fall like a ripe fruit in his lap and had again announced on 31st July, 1947 that the states can remain independent (though this reiteration could’ve more been in the context of other states like Hyderabad, Travancore, and Bhopal etc. whom Jinnah wanted to see as independent). He faced a setback on 17th August, 1947 when the Radcliffe Award was announced which meant Kashmir would no longer be completely surrounded by Pakistan and gave Maharaja an equal chance to accede to India as well. Jinnah felt betrayed and called it an “unjust, incomprehensible and even perverse award”. He stopped pursuing the policy of backing an independent Kashmir and did not issue any statement in its favour since then.
Did Hameedullah Khan and Muslim Conference want an independent Kashmir?
The same correspondence between Muslim Conference leaders and K.H. Khurhid speaks volume on the general mood in the party and among the masses where the Muslim Conference was strong. For instance Agha Shaukat Ali writes on 24 March, 1947 that “Pakistan holds out the green dream of a Muslim rule. No other ideal as an ideal can replace it or stir our people to action”. He further writes, “if Hameedullah were to propound it [independent Kashmir or dissociation from Pakistan], he will be finished politically”.  Similarly, a lawyer from Valley wrote on 11 March, 1947, “Muslims long for the guidance of the League but they are dismayed. They complain of League’s ‘non-interference’… [At present,] Pakistan needs Kashmir, and we need Pakistan.”
Professor Ishaq Qureshi, who was supporting the demand for independent Kashmir, writes a letter to K.H. Khurshid on 25 July, 1947 informing him about why the resolution demanding accession to Pakistan was adopted by the convention. Qureshi admits, “th[is]… change made in our position [that is from independent Kashmir to accession to Pakistan] has secured us the zealous support of the masses and would go a long way to strengthen our organization.”
In fact, while cautioning Hari Singh from acceding to India on the grounds that Muslims would revolt, Ch Hameedullah Khan himself said in June, 1947 that the Muslim Conference still wanted Pakistan but had ‘sacrificed’ joining it ‘to allay the fears and suspicions of the minorities’.
Now, as far as the question regarding Ch Hameedullah Khan is concerned, the fact that he was pro-Pakistan and that his love for Pakistan was beyond question is also admitted by both Justice Yusuf Saraf  and Sardar Ibrahim  who were opposing his stand at that time. In fact, once the resolution of 19 July, 1947 was adopted, he consistently called on the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan.
Accession to Pakistan Resolution – Why it is important?
Dr. Shabir Choudhry writes that the Muslim Conference is trying to “impose” a resolution that was “fraudulently passed by a hundred people motivated by religious zealots”. He then compares this resolution with that of 18th July and tells that the Working Committee is the “cream” of any party and that the Working Committee of the Muslim conference “unanimously” adopted that resolution for an independent Kashmir.
While questioning the legitimacy of this resolution, the learned writer simply ignored the following part of Ch Hameedullah Khan’s statement of 28th May, 1947 which he has himself quoted somewhere else in his piece:
“I have the support of all important leaders of the Muslim Conference and Choudhry Ghulam Abbas Khan has himself expressed agreement with this proposal. A representative convention of the Muslim Conference will be called within a month, where the proposal will be unanimously adopted. This solution, therefore, should be considered as the official policy of the Muslim Conference.”
Hence, the decision by the President and the Acting President of the party, as told by Hameedullah, definitely had to get the approval of representatives’ convention to become official policy of the party. A day after the passage of independence resolution through the Working Committee, in a meeting before the Convention, Ch Hameedullah Khan had requested other leaders of Muslim Conference to allow the passage of the Working Committee’s resolution in the Convention. Yusuf Saraf notes:
“When news of the passage of the resolution became known, a number of younger delegates, including this writer, began canvassing against its endorsement in the Convention. Sensing strong opposition, a restricted meeting of about eight to ten persons was held next morning, before calling the Convention to session, at the residence of Sardar Muhammad lbrahim Khan, Bar-at-Law, Chief Whip of the Party’s Assembly group who was practising law at Srinagar. It was attended by senior most members of the Working Committee and a few Assembly members. This writer was also invited, perhaps, as the vocal opponent of the official resolution. While Ch Hameedullah Khan tried to persuade us to allow the passage of the Working Committee resolution in the interests of party discipline, Khawaja Ghulam Ahmad Jeweller, Deputy Leader of the Assembly Party, and this writer gave our objections against its adoption. Other members of the Working Committee present in the meeting took no direct part but were behind their President… Ch Hameedullah Khan disclosed that this line had been taken on the directions of the Muslim League High Command.” He further writes that Mr. Jeweller didn’t believe this and no agreement could be arrived at in the meeting.
Pertinent to mention here is the Professor Ishaq Qureshi’s letter to K.H. Khurshid (dated 25 July, 1947) in which the former has thrown light on how and why the new resolution was passed. To quote Qureshi: “We had gone to Srinagar with the honest intention of supporting our stand on independence and in fact Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas Khan had himself drafted the resolution to be moved. In Srinagar, however, we soon found that we shall have·to face a determined opposition. For one thing, the glamour of Pakistan was more attractive than the dreary prospects of an independent State for most imaginations. Secondly, the recent announcements in the Parliament were interpreted in the political circles here to signify that irresistible pressure would be brought on Kashmir to join one of the two unions. In that event, it was felt that in the face of a clamorous demand from one side to join the Indian Union and the absence of counter-demand from us the State would have a strong case for choosing the former course. After a two-day fight we carried our point (viz. the independence resolution) with the working committee but had to make concessions in the convention on the third day. Without this concession, it was impossible to carry the house with us. We felt we were failing you and deviating from our previous stand but we were bound by the conventions of democracy.”
Therefore, it can be seen that the independence resolution had to go through the legal procedure before its adoption as the official policy of the Muslim Conference i.e. required majority support in the party’s Convention that was to take place on 19th July, a date fixed by the party earlier. When the Convention, presided over by Ch Hameedullah Khan was held on the scheduled date, the very resolution, which had already faced some opposition in the Working Committee and in the meeting just before the Convention, got rejected by the majority. Then, a counter-resolution was moved and got the approval of the majority and those who were supporting the independence resolution had to accept this decision of the majority as Professor Ishaq Qureshi has mentioned. Now the question arises, how is the resolution, which got the majority support in the very Convention that was held by the party for the sake of decision making, “fraudulently passed” as the learned writer believes?
Anyways, as soon as this new resolution was passed, Ch Ghulam Abbas, the president of the Muslim Conference, endorsed it in a letter from jail. Ch Hameedullah Khan  had also accepted it while the Chief Whip of the Parliamentary group of the party, Sardar Ibrahim was already in its favour. In this way, the resolution had the approval of the President, the Acting President and the Chief Whip of the Parliamentary group of the organization. As discussed above, the resolution of 19th July, 1947 not only represented the general mood of the Muslim Conference leaders and workers but also the general public in the areas where this party was strong. Above all, the resolution was itself passed with majority vote in the very convention scheduled by the party for the sake of formal adoption of party’s policy. Therefore, the legality of this resolution as being the official position of Muslim Conference with respect to the State’s future, cannot be questioned.
The resolution had a great impact on the future of the areas that form the present-day AJ&K. This resolution had not only given the people of this region, who were dismayed over the League’s policy of non-interference, a direction but also, in the words of Agha Shaukat Ali, a reason ‘to stir into action’. Immediately after the adoption of this resolution, eight frontline workers of the Muslim Conference took oath on Quran that if the Maharaja didn’t announce accession with Pakistan, they would call the people in their respective districts to rise in the revolt.  The decision changed the course of history and became the main driving force behind the AJ&K Liberation War. In the words of Sardar Ibrahim, ‘the decision was historic, and was later proved so”.
Notes and References:
- Some people even go on to claim that no such resolution was ever passed. For example, famous Kashmiri historian Rashid Taseer has replied in his book to Pir Afzal Makhdoomi who wrote a piece in a Sirinagar based daily “Aftab” in 1973 denying the existance of any such resolution. In reply, Rashid Taseer has quoted the official organ of National Conference, Al-Khidmat which published a story on 22 July, 1947 about Muslim Conference’s convention held on 19th and the resolution adopted by it. (See Rashid Taseer, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat-e-Kashmir, vol. 3, pp. 194-195). Also, one can find the story (dated 24 July, 1947) titled “Kashmir’s entry in Pakistan demanded” by the Pakistan Times reproduced in Jinnah Papers. (See Z.H. Zaidi (ed.), Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah Papers, vol. 9, File no. KR-336)
- Shabir Choudhry, “Some facts about resolution of Muslim Conference, 19 July, 1947”
- Justice Yusuf Saraf, Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, vol. 2, p. 12
- Zahid Choudhry, Pak Bharat Tanaza aur Masla Kashmir ka Aghaz (Urdu), p. 173
- Sardar Ibrahim, The Kashmir Saga, p. 34
- Yusuf Saraf, op. cit. vol. 2, p. 12
- Z.H. Zaidi (ed.), Jinnah Papers, vol. 9, File no. KR-332
- lshaq Qureshi to K.H. Khurshid, 19 March 1947, Z.H.Zaidi (ed.), Jinnah Papers, vol.1, File no. 158
- Agha Shaukat Ali to K. H. Khurshid, 24 March 1947, ibid., File no. 207
- Yusuf Saraf, op. cit. vol. 2, p. 12
- Ram Chandra Kak’s version of the meeting is that ‘Jinnah advised him to accede to Pakistan and state that, Kashmir by immediate accession would get far better terms than she was likely to get later. [But] on being told that the State’s decision not to accede was definite, Mr. Jinnah said that he was prepare to concede this was an option and so long state did not accede to India, he would not mind if it did not accede to Pakistan.’ (See Radha Rajan, Jammu & Kashmir: Dilemma of Accession, p. 65) This suggests the same that Jinnah wanted to stop the Kashmir government from acceding to India and was happy with independent Kashmir for the time being. Evidence does suggest that Jinnah was convinced (although wrongly) that Kashmir would ultimately fall in his lap but the “impression that he had somehow made Hari Singh agree to accede to Pakistan” does not seem correct. It could be that, though very unlikely, he was given false assurance from Kashmiri side. Further, we are not sure whether Jinnah actually had told Ishaq Qureshi that he had convinced Maharaja or the Professor had just got this “impression” from Jinnah’s confidence about Kashmir being in his pocket.
- Robert G. Wirsing, India Pakistan and the Kashmir Dispute, p. 14
- Agha Shaukat Ali to K. H. Khurshid, 24 March 1947, Jinnah Paper, vol.1, File no. 207. On another occasion, Agha Shaukat Ali used the word “higher political strategy” to describe the plan. In his letter to K.H. Khurshid (dated 23 February, 1947), he writes, “Personally, I am convinced that if it were not for the League’s non-interventionist policy vis-a-vis the States, we would not have found ourselves so desperately alone [though] I am not unmindful of the higher political strategy which necessitates such a course of action.” (See Jinnah Papers, vol. 9, Enclosure to KR-318)
- Mohiud Din to K. H. Khurshid, 11 March, 1947, Jinnah Papers, vol. 9, File no. KR-319
- lshaq Qureshi to K. H. Khurshid, 25 July, 1947, ibid, File no. KR-338
- Christopher Snedden, The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir, p. 25
- Saraf notes, “I have throughout the narrative tried my utmost to avoid attributing motives to anyone and I must record it in fairness to the departed leader, that he was as staunch a Pakistani as anyone else and for that reason and in pursuit of it, lost his eldest son and a daughter during the massacre of Jammu Muslims in November, 1947.” (Saraf, vol. 2, p. 12)
- Sardar Ibrahim writes, “those who were advocating for independence did not have any ill-intentions [against Pakistan] but they believed that if independence was declared, India would stop trying for Kashmir’s accession with India, and in this way it would automatically fall in Pakistan’s lap.” (Mata-e-Zindagi, p. 148)
- Snedden, op. cit. p. 25
- Justice Yusuf Saraf, Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, vol. 1, p. 707
- Saraf, vol. 2, pp. 9-10
- lshaq Qureshi to K. H. Khurshid, 25 July, 1947, Jinnah Papers, vol. 9 File no. KR-338
- Zahid Choudhry, op. cit. p. 173
- It is pertinent to mention that Ch Hameedullah Khan later on not only appointed Sardar Ibrahim as his successor, in case if he was arrested but also gave him full powers to negotiate with Pakistan on the behalf of whole party and the Acting President i.e. Hameedullah Khan himself. (See his letter to Sardar Ibrahim, The Kashmir Saga, pp. 61-62)
- Rashid Taseer, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat-e-Kashmir, vol. 3, p. 194