Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Kashmir Problem is the Gift of an Indecisive leader ; Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Kashmir is India's northernmost state, but it is divided into 3 parts and India only controls about 45% of the area as the rest of the area is under occupation of China and Pakistan. Historically Kashmir was part of the Mughul Empire and later after the collapse of the Mughul rule  was conquered by the Sikhs. It became a province of the Sikh empire. After the annexation of the Punjab  by the East India Company, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was given to Raja Gulab Singh, the Prime minister of Ranjit Singh, for his role in betraying Sikh interests   during the Anglo-Sikh wars( 1845-49). Gulab Singh became the Hindu ruler of a predominantly Muslim populated state.
This state of affairs continued till 1947 and the Kashmir maharajah was glad to serve British interests. After the lapse of British paramountcy in 1947, the departing British government gave an option to all the princely states to either accede to India or the newly created state of Pakistan. Option to be an independent state was not given.
The maharajah of Kashmir however had grandiose dreams of complete independence and asked for more time to exercise his option. He entered into a 'Standstill" agreement with both India and Pakistan. This agreement envisaged the status qua being maintained till the Maharajah decided.
Tell tale headline

Pakistan however disregarded the "standstill" agreement and invaded Kashmir.  The poorly equipped forces of the maharajah were defeated and his troops in  Gilgit were all captured and executed by the invaders who were tribals from the NW Frontier aided by regular units of the Pakistan army. The raiders advanced deep towards Kashmir''s capital Srinagar and reached the airfield.  The Maharajah panicked and decided to accede to India. VP Menon flew in from Delhi with the Instrument of accession and the Maharajah signed on the dotted line.
The Indian army moved in and began to throw the invaders out and in 6 months of fighting the army was poised to liberate entire Kashmir. This was the time when Nehru committed two great blunders that have weakened india's case over kashmir.
a) He agreed for a cease-fire when the Indian army was advancing. Before that India under him took the case to the United Nations and internationalized the issue. The Indian army was dead set against a cease fire as the Pakistan army was on the run.
b) He promised to hold a 'plebiscite' to honor the wishes of the people of Kashmir and the UN security Council passed 3 resolutions on this subject. One fails to understand what prompted Nehru to make such promises, which were and remain detrimental to Indian interests.
There was no need for any such thing and the fact is the one third of kashmir came under the occupation of Pakistan.He committed a greater blunder when he failed to set up any administration in Ladakh and Aksai Chin a remote area of Kashmir. Unknown to Indians the Chinese moved in and occupied 30,000 square miles and Nehru was just twiddling his thumbs. This was a colossal blunder and Nehru insured that a large area of India was forever lost to China. 
He realized his blunder in 1960, but it was too late. Worse he had neglected the Indian army and reduced the finest fighting machine in Asia to a paper tiger. Lack of equipment and strategic planning was directly his fault and the result was a traumatic defeat at the hands of China in the 1962 war. Nehru died soon after, heartbroken as he saw his policy and image as a world leader crumble.
History however is unforgiving and the problems Nehru created cannot be solved. There is no way India can ever get back Aksai Chin from China and Pakistan can never be placated as it demands the entire Kashmir.  It repeatedly points to the Security Council resolutions and Nehru's promise of a plebiscite  to the people of Kashmir. The fat is in the fire and Narendra Modi and the present government are fighting with one arm tied behind their back.The problem is accentuated and now one realizes that Nehru committed great blunders that are like an anchor around the Indian neck.