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Replevin of Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir

On 28 Oct 2022, Defence Minister of India Sh. Rajnath Singh stated publicly that the area of Jammu and Kashmir occupied by Pakistan would be taken back, and all the displaced people of Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) shall return to their homeland.[i] Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, GOC-in-C, Northern Command of the Indian Army, made a statement on 23 Nov 2022 while addressing to media that the Indian Army is ready to execute any task given to it by the Government of India, including the retrieving of POJK.[ii]  Pakistan fomented terrorism in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1989 and increased terrorism and violence over the years. As Pakistan attempted to highlight the Jammu and Kashmir dispute at domestic and international levels, both houses of the Indian Parliament concertedly adopted a resolution on 22 Feb 1994, highlighting that J&K was an integral part of India and that Pakistan must vacate parts of the state under its occupation.

In reply to Rajya Sabha question number 2957 (measures taken to liberate POJK) for 21-03-2018 by Shri Javed Ali Khan MP, Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs (Shri H G Ahir) replied that India is committed under the ‘Shimla Agreement’ and ‘Lahore Declaration’ to resolve all the issues with Pakistan bilaterally. Approx 78,000 sq. km of Indian territory in the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir is under illegal occupation by Pakistan. The ‘Boundary Agreement’ signed between China and Pakistan on 02 Mar 1963, Pakistan further illegally conceded 5,180 sq. km of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir to China. [iii]

Integration of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. With an area of 11579.837 sq. km, the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was the largest amongst all the princely states. Three distinct areas of the J&K were Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. In 1819 ended, the tyrannical and rapacious rule of Afghan with this almost 500 year of Muslim rule ended in Kashmir. The conquest of Kashmir made an extensive addition to the Kingdom of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Sikh ruled over Kashmir from 1819-1846. Under the generalship of Zorawar Singh, Ladakh and Baltistan were added to the territories of the Sikh empire.

An uproarious succession war followed Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s demise, and Maharaja Gulab Singh took advantage of this situation. He was appointed as Prime Minister of Punjab by Maharani Jindan. The Britishers defeated the Sikh Army, which was an advantage to Maharaja Gulab Singh. By the Treaty of Amritsar on 16 Mar 1946, which was a supplement to the Treaty of Lahore signed on 06 Mar 1846, between Lahore durbar and the British government, the British transferred to Maharaja Gulab Singh all the hilly territory, with its dependencies situated to the east of the river Indus and the west of the river Ravi. Thus, Kashmir came under the rule of Dogras in 1846, after 27 years of Sikh rule. [iv] Thus, the British government created the state of Jammu and Kashmir to buffer British India on the one side and Afghanistan, Russia and China on the other. This also created a counterbalance against remnants of the Sikh empire of Lahore. The long historical string in making the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir gave a new state to Indian polity with a significant landscape. These events speak volumes of the military, political and diplomatic prowess of the Dogras-who acted as sentinels of north-western parts of India since ages.

Circumstances led to the formation of POJK. The British functionaries based in India tried to pressure Maharaja Gulab Singh to accommodate a ‘British Resident’ at his court to facilitate them to have a say in managing frontier areas. This is how a special British officer was stationed in Srinagar. Despite opposition from the British in the frontier affairs of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Ranbir Singh conquered Gilgit and incorporated it into its territories. [v] In 1889, the Britishers hatched a conspiracy with Amar Singh, Maharaja’s elder brother and appointed a Council of Regency to control the frontier affairs of Gilgit, Hunza and Nagar. Reluctantly in 1905, the Britishers restored all the powers to Maharaja Partap Singh.

Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to the throne in 1925 after the death of Maharaja Partap Singh. His religion was ‘justice’. He immediately sealed the state’s borders to prevent infiltration of political ideas from pan India. But the press from Lahore, which the Muslims dominated, initiated propaganda against Maharaja Hari Singh and alleged that the Muslim majority community was being suppressed in the state. The anglo-Indian press accused him of propagating the ‘divide and rule’ policy. On 13 Jul 1931, the Muslim population was instigated to raise their voices against the ‘State Forces’ excesses. Sheikh Abdullah, who had resigned from his government job, led the movement and became it’s leader. In 1932, Maharaja Hari Singh announced the freedom of the press and platform as recommended by the Glancy Commission.

On 29 Mar 1935, the British got a sixty-year lease of ‘Gilgit.’ On 08 May 1936, Sheikh Abdullah, under the leadership of the Muslim Conference, demanded a ‘responsible government for the state’s people. To woo non-Muslim people of the state in 1938, he changed the nomenclature of ‘Muslim Conference’ to ‘National Conference’. The ‘Quit India’ movement launched by the Indian National Congress generated the same feelings in the minds of the people of the state, who demanded the removal of the Dogras rule.

On 03 Jun 1947, the British government declared the plan for the partition of India based on the two-nations theory. The Indian Independence Act was passed on 17 Jun 1947. All the princely states were asked to join India or Pakistan before 15 Aug 1947. Maharaja Hari Singh toiling with the idea of Independence, signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan, but Pakistan never kept its promise. After investing in border areas of the state, Pakistan launched a powerful tribals attack led by the Pakistan Army on the state of Jammu and Kashmir on 22 Oct 1947. The instrument of accession of the state to India was signed on 26 Oct 1947 by Lord Mountbatten, the Governor General of India, on behalf of the Government of India, by Sheikh Abdullah for the people of the state and by Mehr Chand Mahajan, the Prime Minister of the state on behalf of Maharaja Hari Singh.

On 01 Jan 1948, India submitted a formal complaint to UNSC under Chapter VI of the UN Charter “as India is anxious to avoid a direct conflict with Pakistan.” On 01 Jan 1949, the cease-fire was declared. Following the cease-fire, Pakistan refused to honor the international agreements to vacate the territories of the state held illegally. On 06 Feb 1954, the Constituent Assembly ratified the state’s accession to India by passing the Bill of Accession. [vi]

Pakistan never vacated the territories of India and illegally occupied a large chunk of areas being administrated directly under the pseudo name of ‘Azad Kashmir’.

Violations of Cease-Fire Line/ Line of Control. On 01 Jan 1949, the cease-fire was ordered, and the operation in Jammu and Kashmir ended. Both India and Pakistan avoided the escalation of this conflict. Karachi Agreement was signed on 27 Jul 1949 by the military representatives of India and Pakistan under the supervision of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). The 830 km long CFL starts from the southernmost point just west to the river Chenab and north and northeastward of the river Shyok to the point NJ9842. Ironically, this line was drawn without having Indian troops on the ground.[vii]

The terms and conditions of the cease-fire are laid down in the UN resolution dated 13 Aug 1948. As per this, Pakistan was required to withdraw its troops for J&K, including the Poonch-Muzaffarabad sector and the Gilgit Agency. And allowed India to maintain minimal forces and carry out the plebiscite to determine the state’s future. Pakistan didn’t vacate the territory which was occupied illegally. [viii]

In 1965, hoping to take benefit of India’s defeat in the Sino-India war of 1962, Pakistan launched ‘Operation Gibraltar’ to infiltrate terrorists with the regular army troops in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to incite the local populace against the Indian government. The crossing points were chosen all along the cease-fire line. The back plan, ‘Operation Grand Slam’, was envisaged to cut the state from the rest of India. Pakistan failed in its misadventure as the Indian Army knocked on the doors at Sialkot and Lahore. [ix]

To divert its attention from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Pakistan attempted to flare up the issue by attacking India on 03 Dec 1971. Once again cease-fire line was violated, and the state of j&K came under heavy attack. But Pakistan suffered a humiliating defeat and lost to East Pakistan.

In the year 1989, Pakistan once again violated the LoC and trained terrorists in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Kashmir Valley was stricken by cruelty, carnage and savagery. These terrorists leashed the rein of terror and were the absolute rulers of the state. About forty-four terrorist organizations were operating in the state. It is alleged that 39 Training Camps were operating in POJK and Pakistan. These terrorist organizations enrolled many guides and motivators to impart training and facilitate border crossing. [x]

In 1999, when the snow melted down on the upper ridges of the Kargil sector, the Pakistan Army troops decked up as jihadi terrorists infiltrated through the gaps in Indian defenses. They occupied several heights between LoC and Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Road. Though Pakistan Army achieved a total tactical surprise by exploiting the terrain and gaps in ground defenses Kargil war ended in a military and political victory for India. [xi] Young Indian Military Leadership played a decisive role in warranting victory for India. Soldiers and young officers displayed their valor, grit and perseverance. They were ready to sacrifice themselves to uphold the dignity and pride of the Regiment, the Indian Army and India. They upheld the ancient tradition of selflessness in India.

In the last two years, about 5601 cease-fire violations of LoC by the Pakistan Army were reported. In giving a befitting reply to these violations, the Indian Army inflicted colossal damage on Pakistan Army personnel and their assets. This was disclosed by Minister of State for Defense Ajay Bhatt in Rajya Sabha in Dec 2021. [xii] These skirmishes and violations at LoC in J&K are primarily due to Pakistan’s help to terrorists crossing into the state. Also, these violations act as diversionary attacks to divert the Indian Army’s attention from the ongoing counter-terrorism operations in J&K.

Missed opportunities. On 30 Dec 1947, UNO was officially familiarized with the problems of the state of J&K by the Government of India under Article 35 of the UN Charter. This Article says that any member-state can bring to the attention of the Security Council or the General Assembly any situation it considers likely to cause security problems in the region.

India and Pakistan mutually agreed to a cease-fire in Jammu and Kashmir from midnight on 31 Dec 1948. After landing in Srinagar on 27 Oct 1947, the Indian Army, with the support of the Indian Air Force, managed to dislodge the attackers from Indian soil. The momentum of the attacks and the success achieved were marvelous. Pakistan was really on the back foot. Many fierce battles were fought in the process. Cease-fire should only have been accepted after clearing the areas of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kasmir, including the Gilgit Agency. This was the first opportunity missed to integrate the areas of the so-called POJK/Azad Kashmir.

Strategically, Pakistan had attempted again to grab J&K by force of arms. It was an excellent chance for India to alter the LoC status quo as per our terms and conditions. India should have prepared itself for such an eventuality. India could have lingered the war to take it to a logical conclusion. It is alleged that the cease-fire was declared to say that the military had spent its ammunition, but when it was investigated, it was revealed that only 14 to 20% of ammunition was consumed.[xiii]

Critics of the Shimla Agreement have upheld that by not forcing Pakistan to settle the issue of J&K once and for all. India lost on the negotiations table what it had gained on the battlefield. India’s perceptive and irrefutable political leadership, effective diplomacy, and brilliant military strategy blended to force Pakistan into an embarrassing defeat, resulting in the capture of 93,000 military and civilian persons.

Operation Vijay was, militarily, politically and diplomatically, a great success. The Kargil war was Pakistan’s biggest debacle and tragedy in military history. But India didn’t exploit the vulnerability of Pakistan to solve the Jammu and Kashmir issue permanently.

We must not forget that Mohammed Ghauri launched attacks against Prithviraj 17 times before he realized victory. Pakistan, as a nation, takes pride in inheriting the traditions of Ghauri and Ghaznavi. If we do not learn from history lessons, we will be condemned to repeat them.

Conclusion: It is immaterial how much we yearn for peace and tranquillity. Disarming the slayer without shedding blood on the battleground is not feasible. It may not sound good to the ears, but that is a fact of life. It is a fact in military thinking that if you don’t shed the enemy’s blood, then we should be prepared to shed our own blood. It is disastrous to mix philosophy in preparation for the nation’s defense. There should not be any hypocrisy in defense of the nation. Our national defense system should be so solid and confirmed that our adversaries think twice before launching a ‘war’ against India.

Lt. Gen E.A. Vas (Retd) said, “History will not repeat itself unless foolish men repeat themselves.” Military history stimulates our independent thought process so that lessons can be drawn. Indian Armed Forces are apolitical. There is a need for strong, capable, and dedicated political leadership to safeguard national interests. Then we can expect a politico-military solid strategic partnership. Therefore, with a strong military backed by decisive political leadership, we can defend the territorial and sovereign integrity of the nation and can provide much-needed security to the people of India.

[i] Indian Army ready to execute orders on taking back PoK, says …https://www.tribuneindia.com › J & K. Accessed on 28 Nov, 2022.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Parliament resolved in 1994 that Pakistan Must Vacate POJK …https://www.esamskriti.com › Current-Affairs › Parliam… Accessed on 29 Nov 2022.

[iv] Somnath Dhar, Jammu and Kashmir, National Book Trust, India, New Delhi, 1977, P-58.

[v] Ibid p-61

[vi] Ibid p-65

[vii] Karachi Agreement – Wikipedia   https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Karachi_Agreement. Accessed on 29 Nov 2022.

[viii] Iqbal Chand Malhotra & Maroof Raza, Kashmir’s untold story declassified. Bloomsbury, New Delhi, 2019, p-89

[ix] Ibid p-120

[x] Jagmohan, My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir, Allied Publishers private limited, New Delhi, 1991, P-373.

[xi] General V P Malik, KARGIL from surprise to victory, HarperCollins Publishers India, 2006, p-21

[xii] 5601 incidents of ceasefire violations reported along LoC in …   https://m.economictimes.com › News › Defence. Accessed on 30 Nov 2022.

[xiii] 1965 Indo-Pak War – A Critical Appraisal – USI of India    https://usiofindia.org › publication › usi-journal › 1965… Accessed on 1 Dec 2022.

About the Author
Colonel Balwan Nagial retired from the Indian Army in 2019 after serving for thirty years. Managed administration, security, project mgt throughout his service. He loves writing and contributing in newspapers and magazines in India. He loves Israeli culture.
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