ISLAMABAD: A retired Army officer in Pakistan has exposed his country’s role in initiating the 1947 conflict in Kashmir and its aggressive intentions to invade and occupy the whole of Kashmir.
In his book ‘Raiders in Kashmir’, retired Major General Akbar Khan admits to played a leading role in creating the 1947 conflict in Kashmir, according to the EU Chronicle. Akbar Khan served on the Armed Forces Partition Sub-Committee which gave him unfettered access to knowledge and intelligence on the security of Kashmir.
At the beginning of September 1947, Akbar Khan as the then Director of Weapons and Equipment (DW&E) stationed at the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army, was asked to prepare a plan to take over Kashmir.
In his position as Director, he was fully aware of the stocks of weapons and ammunition held by the Pakistani army and those needed for an assault on Kashmir.
In order to execute the aggressive strategy, he acquired weapons from Italy, and covertly supplied them to Pakistan’s agents in Kashmir. The aim of the Pakistani military operation was to invade, plunder and inflict violence on the people of Kashmir, to intimidate and oppress in order to occupy, depose Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir and take control of the princely state.
In an operation was code-named ‘Gulmarg’, after the region’s hill-station, and with the full understanding of Kashmir’s resources and security capabilities, Pakistan’s military, under the direction of its political leadership, formulated an offensive to attack the Maharaja’s forces by surprise and invade Kashmir on October, 22 1947 – just two months after Partition.
The invasion was sparked because Pakistan had not expected the Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, to accede Kashmir to India.
Pakistan had attempted to threaten the Maharaja by pressurising him and insisting that Kashmir accede to Pakistan – the latter had made it clear that Kashmir would be annexed by force if necessary. True to its threats, following Maharaja Hari Singh’s request to India for support and protection against its aggressive neighbour, Pakistan invaded Kashmir, EU Chronicle article stated.
Akbar Khan has testified to the fact that the regular Pakistan army, along with tribal forces it had influenced who was acting on behalf of Pakistan, began their incursions in Kashmir and continued the combat in an attempt to annex Kashmir.
The Pakistani forces were ruthless and barbaric – raping women, killing innocent Kashmiri civilians including children and creating anarchy to accomplish their objective. In the town of Baramula alone on October 26 1947, of 14000 Kashmiri Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, only 3000 survived.
Pakistani forces indulged in the ethnic cleansing of local Kashmiris, something rarely highlighted in historical recounts of the events. “On October 26 (1947), the Pakistani forces captured Baramula where only 3,000 survived out of 14,000. The troops were now only 35 miles from Srinagar when the Maharaja (Hari Singh) sent his papers of accession to Delhi asking for help”: these are the excerpts from a recently published book, Raiders in Kashmir, penned by Major General (retired) Akbar Khan of Pakistan.
The book released decades after Pakistan’s Operation Gulmarg in Jammu and Kashmir admits to the role of Pakistan in the conflicts in the valley. Giving out minute details of Pakistan’s aggression in Kashmir, he said that the crisis was hatched and formulated in Lahore and Pindi.
The author wrote that at the beginning of September 1947, he was asked by Mian Iftikharuddin, then a leader in the Muslim League (the ruling political party) to prepare a plan to take over Kashmir.
“Ultimately, I wrote a plan under the title of “Armed Revolt inside Kashmir”. As open interference or aggression by Pakistan was obviously undesirable, it was proposed that our efforts should be concentrated upon strengthening the Kashmiris themselves internally — and at the same time taking steps to prevent the arrival of armed civilians or military assistance from India into Kashmir,” Khan said.
Giving proof of top leaderships’ role in the crisis, he said, “I was called to Lahore for a conference with the prime minister of Pakistan Mr Liaqat Ali Khan. On arrival there, I first had to attend a preliminary conference at the Provincial Government Secretariat in the office of Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan who was then a minister in the Punjab government. I saw copies of my proposed plan in the hands of some…”
“On October 22, the operation began with Pakistani forces crossing the border and attacking Muzaffarabad and Domel on October 24 from where the Dogra troops had to withdraw. The next day these troops moved forward on the Srinagar road and again took on the Dogras at Uri… On October 27, India intervened and sent troops to Kashmir,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, on the evening of October 27, Pakistan Prime Minister held a conference at Lahore to consider the situation arising out of Kashmir’s accession and India’s military intervention.
“The Prime Minister held an unofficial conference at Lahore to consider the situation arising out of Kashmir’s accession and India’s military intervention. At this conference, among others, were also present Colonel Iskander Mirza (then defence secretary, later to be a governor-general), Chaudhri Mohd All (then secretary-general, later to be a prime minister), Abdul Qayum Khan, then chief minister of the Frontier Province and Nawab Mamdot, then CM of Punjab. Brigadier Slier Khan and I were also invited,” the author wrote.
He further said, “At this conference, I proposed that an attempt should be made to liquidate Jammu in order to block the only road, along which India could send reinforcements into the valley and the rest of Kashmir. I did not suggest that troops be used for this purpose or that the government should get involved in this. I suggested only that tribesmen may be allowed to make the attempt. I thought that three lashkars of a thousand each should be used.”
In the book, he also testified that the Pakistani Army had worked with the tribal forces in various incursions in Kashmir.
After being appointed as the military adviser to the prime minister, on October 28, 1947, he had “rushed back to Pindi to ensure that the tribesmen received their ammunition in time”. (ANI)