Saturday, 30 April 2022

Why did India take the Kashmir issue to the UNO?

 


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Why did India take the Kashmir issue to the UNO?

 After months of fighting in the brutally cold mountains and difficult terrain, Nehru finally went to the UN in January 1948. He had a fairly strong case there and the then government too thought so. The UN then took its own sweet time, eight months and then passed a resolution in August 1948. The war was not over by then. India and Pakistan didn't immediately agree to the UN resolution and kept on fighting. By November the troops were already in a war for more than a year and the second winter was already there......

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These days I have been reading often and heard many people accuse Jawaharlal Nehru for the Kashmir issue remaining unsolved. Why did, Nehru take the Kashmir issue to the UN when Sardar Patel could have solved it in matter of days, they all say. It is not as simple as that. And it is factually not correct. And these statements are made to score some brownie points. Remember in 1947 India had just gained independence, was divided into two nations, India and Pakistan; besides the new government had to face the aftermath of partition and rehabilitation of refugees and lacs of people escaping and coming across the border from the newly created nation of Pakistan to seek shelter and safety of their families.

Many factors came into play for such a decision. It was never a matter of days. The timeline is off big time. There are four big omissions in our common narrative of how India took over Kashmir - a) Timeline -the war went on for a long time, almost two bitter winters. b) Geography - Islamabad is close to the Kashmir border.  c) Internal politics - Patel and others didn't support the war and, d) other issues the country was facing and conflicts India was fighting, such as military action in Hyderabad.

The Timeline - Pakistan attacked Kashmir on October 1947. The Maharajah signed the instrument of Accession on October 27 and the war began immediately. India sent its forces after the signing of the Instrument of Accession. By then the Pakistani army dressed as tribesmen and raiders infiltrated Kashmir, attacked, looted and took control of a large area of land in Kashmir. After the Indian forces landed in Kashmir, the Indian army was able to push back the Pakistani army from most of those occupied areas up to the present Line of Control in Kashmir. And the area held by Pakistan is called POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). And Pakistan calls it Azad Kashmir, which is a mockery of the Kashmiris living there.

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After months of fighting in the brutally cold mountains and difficult terrain, Nehru finally went to the UN in January 1948. He had a fairly strong case there and the then government too thought so. The UN then took its own sweet time, eight months and then passed a resolution in August 1948. The war was not over by then. India and Pakistan didn't immediately agree to the UN resolution and kept on fighting. By November the troops were already in a war for more than a year and the second winter was already there. And the Indian forces were successful in repulsing the attack and pushing the Pakistani forces. India had an upper hand in the ongoing conflict but there were other matters that needed urgent attention to hold the new nation together.

Apart from this, India faced other problems too. India was running out of ammunition as it had to fight a parallel war to take control of Hyderabad state [much bigger than the size of Austria] from the Nizam [possibly the richest person in the world at that time] who was trying to assert himself to be a independent entity. And in the northeast, Manipur and other parts still had not joined the India union and the leaders were busy making sure that they don't go independent. There was the resettlement from the partition and dealing with the aftermath of Mahatma's assassination, a very sensitive issue which could easily have been exploited by vested interests. And the Indian Constitution was being worked simultaneously. It was a mammoth job of writing the constitution taking all factors into account. In hindsight it’s easy to say that the then government could have done this or done that. But the government had its hands full of issues which needed urgent attention. And the able leaders then were able to manage and tackle problems on all fronts.

India had just gained independence from British rule. And the country was divided into two nations. How many issues can the new government, and Nehru and Patel focus and tackle at one time? It was a total chaos they had to deal on many fronts. And in the history of the world, hardly one had the responsibility to patch so many territories [with a seventh of world population] in so short a time. A couple of mountain areas were not their top priority, especially since a sizable chunk of the valley was already secured. It really needed experienced leaders like Nehru, Sardar Patel and others to hold India together at the most difficult times in the history of India. It’s easy for present politicians to blame the then leaders and government.

Finally the ceasefire came into effect on January 1949 - about 60 weeks after the war began. It was the brutal chill in the mountains and tough terrains. And India had way bigger headaches than moving a couple of military posts in the Karakoram range. An endless war there could have exhausted the finances of this budding nation and there could have been a possibility of a massive reaction from the public, possibly a rebellion or even civil war and opposition to the policy of continuing the conflict.

Geography - Pakistan's cities are right on the edge of the border and many are quite close to the Kashmir valley. It takes just about one hour to drive from Islamabad, Rawalpindi or Sialkot to the borders of Kashmir. From Lahore or Gujranwala it is about a two hours drive. Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan administered Kashmir, is minutes away from the Pakistan's border. For India, logistics and transporting troops, ammunition and weapons were a nightmare with barely any proper roads in such high and difficult terrain.  One has to take all these factors into account. The leaders and the army were aware of this fact.

And the terrain is mostly flat on the other sid,. Pakistan's generals could get to PoK even in their lunch break from their Rawalpindi headquarters. It is that close. Indian cities, on the other hand, are quite far from the valley. It takes than more eighteen hours of drive to reach the Kashmir valley from New Delhi. And this is over huge mountains and difficult terrain. Compare one hour drive over flat land against eighteen hour drive through mountain passes that too immediately after independence when there were no proper roads or infrastructure and communication.

Thus, India was fighting a far tougher battle than Pakistan. And Pakistan also was quite desperate to protect its major cities whose security would be compromised if India took all of Kashmir. India's security risk from losing Kashmir was a lot less. Unlike India, Pakistan could afford to put all their military energies on Kashmir as it was the only war it was fighting and with supply logistics all around the valley. India had to protect a large territory stretching all the way to Burma and had multiple conflicts such as Hyderabad, Junagadh and confusion in the northeast.

The scenario was very complicated and tricky as the first priority of the government was to hold India together with the peculiar problems in Hyderabad, and some other princely states trying to stall and the sensitive north eastern states. Thus, the then government’s decision and Nehru's move  of approaching the UNO was fairly prudent even though some people feel and see it as sacrificing of India's interests. Given the circumstances the new nation was facing, with shortage of weapons, food and limited finances, the government decided to approach the UNO.

Today the whole of Jammu and Kashmir is looking ahead with numerous infra structure and other projects for the benefit of the people of Kashmir. Jobs will be created and the locals will get their due. And Pakistan has to vacate the POK, illegally occupied in 1948 and merge it with the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

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What is Gothra?

Most Hindus are aware about their Gotra, but many among the modern generation are not aware about it. Among Hindus Gotra plays an important part while performing rituals, religious ceremonies, pujas and even marriage. The priest performing the rituals will normally ask you for the Gotra. In Hinduism, the term Gotra is considered to be similar to lineage. It simply refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male lineage from a common male ancestor. Isn’t it interesting?

Gotra originally referred to the seven lineage segments of the sages (priests), who trace their origin from seven ancient seers: Atri, Bharadvaja, Bhrigu, Gotama, Kashyapa, Vasishtha, and Vishvamitra. To this list, Agastya is also sometimes added. These eight sages are called Gotrakarins, from whom all 8 Gotras have evolved. The gotras thus derived are - (1) Shandilya, (2) Gautama Maharishi, (3) Bharadwaja, (4) Vishvamitra, (5) Jamadagni, (6) Vashista, (7) Kashyapa and (8) Atri.

Hindus are supposed to belong to one of the above Gothras and it continues from generation to generation. And the Gothra plays an important role in a person’s life. Be it rituals, religious ceremonies and even marriage. If you are not aware, check with your parents or family elders, it may be useful in the future.

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