Recently Dr. Nyla Ali Khan wrote in The Daily Times an essay that could be misconstrued as more of a defense of a family member than an actual objective historical account of a politician who played a pivotal role in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir— that being her mother’s father, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who eventually resigned as Prime Minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, after a fallout with the Nehru Government during the period of 1948-1953. In Dr. Nyla Ali Khan’s OP-ED essay “In politics there are no permanent friends or foes — I”, she stated “Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah did not lose faith in the international system which was premised on Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination, post-World War 1. The Sheikh, I argue, sought self-determination for Jammu and Kashmir as a territorial unit, not as a Muslim nation. He wanted Kashmir to be an international polity. I posit that he perceived the evolution of Kashmiri nationalism in world-historical terms, as opposed to a domestic and local issue.” Although the author on the Kashmir Question has shall we say ‘good intentions’, she fails to understand that Kashmir Self-Determination and Independence goes well beyond whether Nehru oppressed her grandfather’s political agenda, or whether the territory of Jammu and Kashmir should be also be understood as religious issue regarding Hindu and Muslim faith peoples who live in that region that is located between India and Pakistan. The Question of Kashmir is also a class struggle which needs to be addressed in the most formidable terms.
In a response to the issue of Nehru and the fragile situation in the Jammu and Kashmir region, Dr. Nasir Khan wrote in a response to Dr. Nyla Ali Khan’s essay that “However, the situation in Kashmir region was a bit more complicated for him for a number of reasons. Despite his personal friendship with the Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah, Nehru also thought himself a Kashmiri. Kashmir was not only part of India, but it was also his ancestral home! Consequently, he was not the one who would allow anyone, even a personal friend like Abdullah to assert an independent position for himself or for his people when it came to Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir had become an ‘integral part’ part of India. The legal fiction of ‘Accession’ was always at the back on Nehru’s mind! Many still believe in that false claim.” Actually, I would say that the situation for Nehru, who ideologically was a socialist, but who had been influenced in his youth by Marxism, was caught up, like the leadership in Kashmir, with political and military intrigues that neither parties could escape with their bourgeois fetters of governing their two regional or state principalities.
According to Mehr Chand Mahajan, who was the third Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India prior to the complicated and shall one say the messy events in Kashmir (Maharjan being the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, during the reign of Maharaja Hari Singh, would play a key role in the accession of J&K to India) the intervention into the affairs of Kashmir went both ways. If we are to believe his point of view on the ‘accession’ of the Kashmir region, let us study his memoirs on that situation, when he wrote “Give army, take accession and give whatever powers you want to give to the popular party (National Conference headed by Sheikh Abdullah), but the army must fly to Srinagar this evening, otherwise I will go and negotiate terms with Mr (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah (the Pakistan leader) as the city (Srinagar) must be saved,” Mahajan had reportedly told Nehru and Patel.” ” and it should be understood here that during this period “Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, had request that his British commander-in-chief send the Pakistani army and take over the Kashmir state. However, the British military officer refused to follow this order and told Jinnah that he could not do it without consulting the Supreme Commander of all British forces remaining in India and Pakistan, Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck. Seemingly, such was the political and military affairs of the Kashmir Question which had nothing to do with personalities or even class difference between the regional warring parties.
Nehru, would not accept a military interference by Pakistan forces, and his hand was forced to send Indian troops into the Jammu and Kashmir region. This political and military escalation was inevitable, as the tensions between the two nation-states of India and Pakistan had not been resolved. One only has to look at the situation regarding the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the horrific political and military tensions between the fascistic state of Israel and the fragile leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected President of the State of Palestine by the PLO Central Council. Amid all such chaos what is forgotten is that the people of Kashmir and Palestine are factory workers, small farmers, students and a progressive intelligencia in both regions that are seeking a normal life. Neither Nehru, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah nor any of the Pakistan leadership could stop the unsettling and justified need for an independent state of Kashmir.
Recently on the website “CPI(M)-CPI” there was a statement on Kashmir that was posted on September 3, 2016, which although goes back two years ago, still has weight in my opinion, in which the author or authors wrote:
The consistent stand the Left parties have been taking is that Jammu & Kashmir has a special status which was reflected in the adoption of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. At the heart of the matter lies how in letter and spirit its autonomy and special status, eroded over the years, can be restored. A political agreement must be reached, which should be acceptable to the people whereby the state of Jammu & Kashmir would remain as part of the Indian Union but by fulfilling the commitment, made to the state and the people in 1948.
The entire geo-political situation has changed in the post-independence decades. A solution to the Kashmir problem has also the dimension of India and Pakistan discussing to settle long standing disputes. For the past nearly two months Kashmir has been in turmoil. Since the killing of Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Commander, the people in the Valley have been out on the streets in mass protests. More than 70 people have died in the firing by the security forces and a few thousand have been injured. Two security personnel have also lost their lives. Pellet guns used by the security forces have blinded and maimed many. Instead of quelling the protesters, it only intensified with each death and injury in police firing. The main force driving these protests are the youth. These mass protests that have spread into rural Kashmir, graphically illustrate the deep sense of alienation of the people from the Indian State. At no time has the gulf between India and the Kashmiri people been so wide. This serious situation calls for an examination of the entire Kashmir problem.
The situation of the Kashmir Question will not be settled by legislation neither by India or Pakistan, nor by any ‘Article’ within the framework of the Indian Constitution. In my most humble opinion, I would state equivocally that neither India nor Pakistan will allow Kashmir to become a democratic or socialist state by a referendum— the voting for independence at the ballot box. One only has to look at the Catalan Question in Spain and the ongoing repression of the Catalan people, or the decades of repression of the colonized Mexican Americans who live in the United States, to understand that Self-Determination and Independence is not given to any people, they have to fight for it. Indeed, the Vietnamese peoples and their revolutionary leadership knew that, when they undertook the political and military struggles against the French and then the American regimes to find their complete freedom from colonial bondage. As Stalin so aptly put it “The principle of self-determination should be limited in such a way as to make it applicable only to the toilers and not to the bourgeoisie. Self-determination must be a means of attaining socialism …” , and as I would say about the Question of Kashmir, it is the right of the common people of Kashmir to decide their right for Self-Determination and Independence, for their rightful place among the nations of the world.