These sort of books should not be hidden by the Defence Ministry. These books, where very serious study is made, in this case, over why Pakistan acted the day it acted and how it acted to launch a war are a must for detailed study of a subject. And probably, this is the closest we will ever reach to understand why Qayyum Khan was that interested in invasion of Kashmir.
While the raiders were securing the dispersal of the State’s army by their hit-and-run attacks, the Pakistan government was softening up the State by economic blockade. Under the Agreement, the imports into the State were to be maintained at the normal level by the Pakistan government. Kashmir’s economy being predominantly agricultural, the State was dependent on imports for many of the necessities of life. The most important of these were cloth and petrol, and the State also needed salt and rice from outside sources. Payment for these normal imports had already been made in most cases. But supplies were held up in Pakistan. Some of the essential commodities of which the State was being starved were the following
- Rice for four months valued at Rs 601,000/-, of which only about 406 tonnes, less than one month’s quota, was received and the rest withheld
- Two month’s quota of wheat, 637 tonnes, withheld, as also supplies of gram
- 189 bales of cloth lying at Rawalpindi were not allowed to be brought in
- Ten wagons of salt, 206 tonnes, lying at Rawalpindi detained
- Almost the entire quota of petrol for the State, about 1 75 mn litres and 5000 tins of kerosene od were withheld
Pakistan also sought to freeze all communications in the State
Lack of petrol immobilised many of the lorry and truck fleets on which Kashmir depended for its internal transport. On 12 September 1947, the Post Office at Mirpur, under Pakistani control, refused to accept registered insured covers and money orders One week later, the railway service from Sialkot to Jammu was suspended. Very soon, the Pakistan Post Offices within the State refused to operate the Savings Bank accounts of the people and to cash postal certificates. Cheques from the branches, within the State, of banks in West Punjab were not honoured, and remittances of money from the Lahore Currency Office for the Srinagar branch of Imperial Bank were stopped. The people suffered considerable hardships and trade came to a standstill. With all arteries blocked, a slow creeping paralysis set m within Jammu and Kashmir
NEGOTIATIONS WITH PAKISTAN
About the end of September, the State government informed the Prime Minister of Pakistan about the stoppage of essential supplies and requested him to order their release. On 2 October, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan telegraphed a reply saying that they were trying their best to send the supplies, but due to the disturbances “drivers of lorries are reluctant to carry supplies between Rawalpindi and Kohala, and it is impossible for us to spare troops for this escort”. This was a particularly lame excuse, for, as the State government pointed out, “Military escort for taking European families now here could have escorted petrol supply [into the State] if local authorities had so desired. Moreover, one petrol tanker had been turned back actually from the
Pakistan Customs Post at Kohala, while some salt also was stopped by the Pakistan officials at the octroi barrier on the border of the State.
Very soon the problems of trade and raiding were lashed together. Pakistan, while expressing eagerness to send supplies, protested strongly against alleged atrocities by the State’s army on Muslims in Punch and against the reports of armed Sikhs infiltrating into Jammu. The State government denied both allegations, and asked Pakistan to stop armed raiders entering the State from Rawalpindi district to loot and murder people within the State About the frozen imports, it acidly commented that the laudable intentions of the Pakistan government would not solve the problem when the supplies were actually held up by the local officials.
The situation deteriorated rapidly The State troops were now in action against hordes of well-armed raiders all along the Pakistan border south and west of Punch, Fort Owen had to be evacuated by the State troops on 15 October, the Kotli-Punch road was breached, and heavy concentrations of the raiders and bitter exchanges of fire were going on around Bhimbar, Mirpur and Mangla.
On 15 October, therefore, a cablegram was sent to the Bntish Prime Minister detailing the raiders’ activities and the economic blockade, and requesting him to advise Pakistan to treat Kashmir with fairness and justice, “consistent with the good name and prestige of the Commonwealth of which it claims to be a member”. On 18 October, a stiffly worded telegram was despatched to Mohammad Ah Jinnah and Liaquat Ah Khan requesting them once again to stop raids into the State from Pakistan territory and send supplies The telegram concluded that if Pakistan did not stop these raids, the State government would be compelled to seek “friendly assistance” in fulfilling its sacred duty of protecting its subjects and frontier. Liaquat Ali in his reply repeated the charge that the State army was killing and driving out Muslims, which must be stopped immediately, while Jinnah considered it almost an ultimatum, saying that the State authorities were putting up excuses to join the Indian Union After the receipt of these telegraphic replies, Mehr Chand Mahajan, the Prime Minister of J & K State, sent another telegram on 22 October, trying to prove his contention about the raiders’ activities by quoting messages received from the agitated Hindus of Punch reporting grave danger from the Pakistani raiders and praying for quick reinforcements to save the situation.
Before anything could be done in response to their prayer, all hell was let loose in the Kashmir Valley.
THE INVASION PLAN
The invasion of the Kashmir Valley from Pakistan was planned with meticulous care and showed considerable strategic and tactical insight. The plan was first to split up the State’s army into tiny groups by means of hit-and-run attacks all along the long frontier with Pakistan. In trying to control these apparently uncoordinated attacks, the defending force was compelled to distribute itself into garrisons of platoon strength spread very thin indeed along the entire southern frontier. The terrain was hilly and communications primitive, so this distribution of the State army into innumerable tiny garrisons meant that it ceased to exist as a strong cohesive force able to offer battle to any strong invader anywhere along the frontier. The defending army was thus hamstrung most effectually. Vicious communal propaganda, at the same time, was turned in full blast at the State, and the Muslims in the frontier areas and in the State army were incited to rebel against the Hindu Maharaja and to murder their neighbours of the minority community.
The motive behind the Pak invasion of Jammu and Kashmir is not difficult to guess “When the British transferred power, one of the problems left unsolved by them was that of the tribal people, and Pakistan had to tackle it. Crores of rupees were spent by the British out of Indian revenues to appease these people, but the newly-born State of Pakistan could ill afford to spend so much money on them. Besides, the leaders of Pakistan have made Islam the basis of modern nationality, and all their high-sounding words would lose meaning if they treated the tribal people, their co-religionists, in the British way. There was again another menace growing rapidly in the N W F Province Badshah Khan (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan) started his Pathanistan Movement — autonomy for the Pathans — and they were afraid lest it should disrupt Pakistan. It had to be nipped in the bud before the movement lured the Pathans both of the N W F. Province and the tribal areas into one hostile camp. The urgent need felt by Pakistan to force the issue of Kashmir, and secure its speedy accession to Pakistan contained the possibility of a solution of more than one problem. To hold out to the poor tribal people the alluring promise of land and plenty in Kashmir, to give them a lurid description of the supposed atrocities done to Muslims so that they might be worked up to fever pitch, and allow them a free run of the beautiful valley-why, this would secure Kashmir, solve the problem of the tribal people, kill the Pathanistan Movement and secure Pakistan’s safety and prosperity — all at one stroke”.
With passions aflame, lawlessness rampant and authority paralysed, the raiders struck. Thousands of tribal warriors swarmed across the frontier, and, like a mighty flood, spread deep inside the State by every bridle-road and mountain track. The main invasion was planned and launched by the Army Headquarters of Pakistan and was called ‘Operation Gulmarg’. Orders were issued through DO letters marked Personal/Top Secret and signed personally by the British C-in-C of the Pakistan Army, within a few days of Pakistan coming into existence.
From History of Operations in Jammu & Kashmir(1947-48)