Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is proud that India has never seized territory by force. A brief look at India’s contrary record in this respect may be useful, however hard it may be to be brief on India’s escapades.
India was in a hurry from the day it was granted independence to seize territory that it decided belongs to it. India militarily occupied the princely states of Hyderabad, Junagadh, Manavadar, Mangrol, in violation of the covenant on the course of action for accession of such states to India or Pakistan.
India militarily occupied the Portuguese, Dutch, French enclaves of Diu, Goa, Pondicherry, thereby falling foul of the more civilised diplomatic process which was underway for their union with India.
In Kashmir, a state with a Hindu ruler and a Muslim majority population, India backed the Maharaja and his Dogra army in pushing Kashmiris out of Kashmir, to shrink the Muslim majority of the state. The Kashmiris resisted and tribesmen from Pakistan went to their help. India landed troops in Srinagar and began advancing towards the Pakistan border.
The then British commander in chief of the Pakistan Army, General Douglas Gracey, advised the prime minister to dispatch regular troops to Kashmir to stop the Indian advance.
Units of the Pakistan Army were sent to Kashmir, and the Indian advance was stemmed. India realised Kashmir was a different cup of tea than its other seizures and took the Kashmir issue to the UN on January 1, 1948.
India’s position was that Pakistan should be asked to vacate whatever part of Kashmir it had occupied. Much to India’s relief, the UN arranged an immediate ceasefire in Kashmir, but much to India’s dismay, the UN did not accept India’s position and instead passed a resolution on April 21, 1948 for a plebiscite in Kashmir.
To cover up the rejection of its position by the UN Security Council, India took to asserting that the resolution for plebiscite was passed, as members of the Security Council did not wish to follow up with another resolution against a Muslim state, so soon after the UN resolution of November, 1947 creating Israel. This was one of first fallacious reason India had to concoct for its position in Kashmir.
In 1950, the UN appointed Admiral Chester Nimitz, who was the US naval equivalent of Gen MacArthur in the Pacific during WW2, as plebiscite
administrator for Kashmir. Admiral Nimitz was settled in California close to the university where I went, and I called on him a few times in the late 1950s. Nimitz told us how he had done sure-fire groundwork for the plebiscite to ensure that its outcome would truly embody the peoples’ will. However, as the overwhelming support of people of Kashmir for Pakistan became clear, he made out that the plebiscite would not happen.
Nimitz explained that like a good general will not go to a war he cannot win, India – which held the bulk of Kashmir – would not go for a plebiscite knowing it cannot win. India fielded a strong delegation in 1948 to present its case on Kashmir before the UN, but the Pakistan delegation led by the then foreign minister Zafarullah Khan made short work of the Indian case.
But the Kashmir coin did not stop there. India continues to violently suppress the Kashmiris with over 700,00 troops, in the process killing over 100,000 Kashmiris who have been protesting, rallying and demonstrating since 1989 against the occupation of their land by India.
All of this is overshadowed by India’s standing as the world’s largest functioning democracy, and by its weight as an emerging major world economic and military power. Pakistan on the other hand is hard put to avoid being documented as a ‘failed’ state harbouring terrorists.
In the long term, Pakistan has to work to strengthen its democracy, improve its economic power, and keep its armed forces primed to the changing times. But there is a short-term measure Pakistan can take to counteract India’s standing.
Pakistan has to make Operation Zarb e-Azb an unquestionable triumph over terrorism, a complete wiping out of terrorists and terrorism. In this, Pakistan will be doing itself the biggest favour.
Terrorism is the world’s foremost concern with Pakistan, despite it being a victim of terrorism itself. The war against terrorism by Pakistan will produce a gratifying world response and recognition, which would immeasurably enhance Pakistan’s credibility and influence.
The world will then begin to listen to Pakistan, to understand that the magnitude and immensity of the Kashmiris’ struggle against Indian occupation and in the presence of over 700,000 Indian troops, is not something ‘cross-border terrorism’ can sponsor.
The writer is a former corporate executive. Email: husainsk1933gmail.com