AS a visionary leader, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had special affiliation and attachment with the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir. This great leader of the 20th Century regarded Jammu and Kashmir as the most significant for the economic, strategic and political security of Pakistan. In the same context, Quaid said, “Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan and no nation or country would tolerate its Jugular vein remaining under the sword of the enemy”. Today, once India is consolidating its occupation over the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the vision of the Quaid can be understood in its true perspective. From the available archives, it is revealed that Quaid-i-Azam visited Kashmir four times. The first visit of the Quaid was in 1926; in fact a private visit to spend a few holidays in Kashmir. But, visit provided this visionary leader first-hand knowledge about state, its inhabitants, their socio-economic conditions and the cruel Dogra Rule, imposed over Kashmiris as a result of Kashmir Sale Deed-1846. Indeed, there was no political awakening in the State, nor Kashmiris could form a political party of their own. Indeed, under cruel and inhuman Dogra Rule, People of State were deprived of their basic human rights. Even they had no rights over their own lands, which they owned since centuries.
By 1919, some Kashmiris dared to form a Reading Room Party; a covert socio-political forum of Kashmiris to raise their voices. Earlier, some Kashmiris dared to submit a memorandum to the Viceroy of India, demanding reforms in the educational and economic sectors, and to redress the grievances of Kashmiri masses against the Dogra Rule. These brave Kashmiris were later victimized and tortured by the unjust Dogra Ruler. The Quaid uneasily watched this situation and later got a special resolution passed in the All India Muslim League Working Committee session held in Lahore in 1926. The unanimously passed resolution drew the attention of the Maharajah’s Government towards the educational and economic backwardness of the Muslims of Kashmir and requested him to improve the living standard of the Muslim masses, forming bulk of the population. The second visit of the Quaid to Kashmir was in 1929. During this visit, he met some local leadership of the State to know further details about the living conditions of the masses. Nevertheless, both visits of Quaid remained low profile, aimed to visualize the ground realities in the former Princely State having overwhelming Muslim population under suppressive Dogra Rule.
Despite Dogra repression, the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir were able to establish their first political forum in the form of All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference by 1931/32. This political forum of Kashmiris was primarily aimed at attaining the political and social rights of Kashmiris from oppressive Dogra Rule. It was the first step towards the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir from Dogra Rule. The third visit of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to Kashmir was a very formal and as a leader of Indian Muslims. Quaid visited the heavenly valley in 1936 where he was given a landmark reception by the Kashmiri leadership of Muslim Conference under Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas. During this visit, Quaid told Kashmiris: “Oh yes Muslims! Our Allah is one, our Prophet is one, our Quran is one and, therefore, our Voice must also be one”. Unfortunately, three years after this visit, there came a split among the leadership of Kashmir and a new political party emerged on the horizon of Kashmir with the name of All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference. This in fact was a tragic development in the history of Kashmir. It is said that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (later Indian Prime Minister) was instrumental to this new political party in Jammu and Kashmir. Had National Conference not acted as an unofficial offshoot of the Indian National Congress, Kashmiris would not have suffered these miseries in their past 73 years post-partition history.
In 1944, Quaid-i-Azam visited Jammu and Kashmir for the fourth time. He stayed in various parts of the state for over a month during this visit. He made this visit on the joint invitation of Muslim Conference and the National Conference and address with the gatherings of both parties. He met with the leadership of both political parties of Kashmir and attended functions, meeting with workers, students, lawyers, common people and journalists. His stay in Kashmir being the last but the most important had a great impact on the future politics of Kashmir. Quaid’s love for the people of Kashmir can be imagined from the fact that, during his visit to Kashmir in 1944; he picked up a newly graduate Kashmiri youth, K.H.Khurshid as his Personal Secretary. K.H.Khurshid remained as the Personnel Secretary of the Quaid from 1944 to 1947. K.H. Khurshid later acted as a special representative of Quaid on Kashmir and visited the state after it was illegally occupied by India. Upon the illegal invasion of Indian forces in Kashmir on 27 October 1947, Quaid-e-Azam issued orders to the Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army to dispatch troops to Jammu and Srinagar. Unfortunately, the British Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan did not implement the orders of the Governor General. Earlier, smelling a rat, Quaid-i-Azam tried his best to create circumstances, which could stop Indian annexation of Kashmir. Unfortunately, after the death of Quaid-e-Azam no worthwhile efforts could be made to regain Kashmir from the illegal Indian occupation. In August 2019, India acted illegally and declared the state as its union territories in complete disregard to UN resolutions and all international norms.
Under the changed environment where India has illegally and unilaterally attempted to change the status of IIOJK, there is a need to revisit the vision of Quaid-e-Azam in its true perspective. Kashmiris of entire Jammu and Kashmir and people of Pakistan have only one demand; “The right of self-determination for Kashmiris.” It is obligatory for the Government of Pakistan to pursue the Quaid’s vision of Kashmir until the people of entire Jammu and Kashmir are given their right of self-determination as per the promises of the UN and international community. In this regard, there is a dire need that the Government must make tangible progress at political and diplomatic levels.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.