It is a historical reality. Much before Jammu and Kashmir became a dispute between India and Pakistan, earned a berth amongst the international disputes and found its place on the agenda the United Nations Security Council, formulas for deciding future of this strategically important state started coming in not from the newly born dominion of Pakistan but from India.
On the lapse of the ‘British Paramountcy’, as the relations between the State and British crown was termed, the State of Jammu and Kashmir was “technically” an Independent country. “M.A. Jinnah’s stand was in accordance with the law, which said, “constitutionally and legally the Indian States will be independent sovereign states on termination of Paramountcy and they will be free to decide for themselves to adopt any course they like. It is open to them to join the Hindustan Constituent Assembly or Pakistan Constituent Assembly or remain Independent. But, to quote Gowher Rizvi an Oxford scholar, “The dovecotes of Congress felt jittery over granting Independent status to any of the princely states.”
“The idea of Independence writes historian Ramachandra Guha had taken strong hold over the Maharaja. He loathed Congress, so he could not think of joining India… On 15 July 1946, he stated that Kashmiris would work out their own destiny without dictation from any quarter which is not integral part of the State. R.C. Kak his Prime Minister encouraged him to think of Independent Kashmir.’
This statement caused ‘barbed anguish’, in Nehru and he started working overtime for accession of the state with India. Credible international historians have recorded to the minutest details how Jawaharlal Nehru prevailed upon Viceroy Lord Mountbatten to ensure Jammu and Kashmir becoming part of India. M.O. Mathai’s book ‘My Days With Nehru’ tells us very subtly how Nehru wooed Sheikh Abdullah to his side.
I am not to debate the sanctity or the “sacrosanctity” of the ‘instrument accession’ this subject has been debated by eminent historians. But what has been intriguing my mind did Nehru himself believe in the legitimacy and validity of the ‘instrument of accession’. Nehru despite having ‘procured’ the document of accession, with all question marks tagged to it, to my understanding was not satisfied with its sanctity that is why he send formulas for the resolution of Kashmir. On 1st December 1947, that is exactly one month after Jinnah-Mountbatten meeting in Lahore had failed and ended in acrimony and 35 days after ‘the accession’ was signed by the Maharaja, Indian Prime, Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote a letter to Hari Singh, outlining various formulas for the settlement of Kashmir:
“There could be a plebiscite for the whole state to decide which domain it would join. Or the state could survive as an Independent entity, with its defense guaranteed by both India and Pakistan. A third option was of partition with Jammu going to India and rest of the State going to Pakistan. A fourth option had Jammu and Valley staying with India, with Poonch and being ceded to Pakistan”. In this letter, included in Sardar Patel Correspondence vol 1, pp 100-6, stressing on Kashmir remaining with India Nehru wrote to Maharaja, “However much we may want this, it cannot be done ultimately except through the goodwill of the mass of the population. Even if military forces held Kashmir for a while, a later consequence might be a strong reaction against this…. If the average Muslim feels that he has no safe or secure place in the Union, then obviously he will look elsewhere.”
Nehru wrote this letter to Maharaja after obtaining signatures from him on the accession document. Important question is why? The reason I believe was, Nehru despite having made his Man Friday S.M. Abdullah, to organize a reception to Indian soldiers on their landing at Srinagar, understood two things, one, the undercurrents in Kashmir against the killings in Jammu in “ninety-nine anti-Muslim incidents between 8 August and 12 December 1947, two, doubts cast by the international community on the ‘accession document’.
Nehru complained to the UNSC on 1 January 1948 against Pakistan ostensibly for supporting the Pukhtoons. Besides building a case against Pakistan, the move was aimed at subtly seeking ratification of the “instrument of accession” by the comity of nation. It did not happen; instead it asked for holding a plebiscite under its supervision thus did not approve the action of the Maharaja. Kashmir ceased to be bilateral problem between two new dominions after India and Pakistan agreed to abide by the UN resolution. It was recognized as an international dispute. Nehru later on “bitterly regretted” going to the UNSC.
Notwithstanding, the UNSC, continuously calling for execution of its resolutions, it appointed commissions under Owen Dixon, Dr. Frank Graham and Gunner Jarring, and failure of these commissions is a sad story of United Nations failure on Kashmir. There were also proposals made by none less that Attlee for keeping Commonwealth troops in Kashmir.
In fifties and sixties, formulas for resolution of the dispute were proposed at official and unofficial level in India and not in Pakistan. India’s Foreign Minister, Ayyanger at one stage saw Independent Kashmir best way to come out of tangle. Sardar Patel favored partition. In 1960, in New Delhi, “The End Kashmir Dispute Convention” proposed an elaborate formula for resolving Kashmir dispute. Calling for talks between India, Pakistan and Kashmir leadership, it called for ceding Jammu and Ladakh to India, Kargil , Gilgat, and Northern Areas to Pakistan. It also proposed India withdrawing from Kashmir and Pakistan from Azad Kashmir and allowing two parts to come together as a ‘neutralized autonomous zone.’ This formula was internationally called as Talbot plan. On reading this plan between the lines, one finds seeds of the formula that was debate in CPR in nineties and later articulated by Musharraf in his four point formula. In 1962, important Indian politicians Rammanohar Lohia and Vinboba Bhava also came up with formula like confederation of India, Pakistan and Kashmir. Two years later Nehru had sent Sheikh Abdullah with the same formula to Pakistan.
Historically, what is most interesting most of the formulas for resolving Kashmir dispute outside the UN, up to sixties, then in early nineties have originated from New Delhi, or Washington? President, Musharraf was first to talk about an out of box solution. These formulas were bound to collapse before take off their not being not in line with the genesis of the dispute.