Bharat's 'atoot Ang'
23 November 2004
Air Marshal (r) Ayaz Ahmed Khan
Lahore: Dr Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, during his recent meeting in New Delhi with the Dutch Prime Minister Mr Jan Peter Balkenende, parroted the old rusted tune of atoot ang, which since long has been thrown into the dustbin by the people of Kashmir. The world community and the United Nations have been advising India and Pakistan to settle the Kashmir dispute peacefully. But having shackled Kashmir in its military grip, the Indian aim is to prolong and stall dialogue on Kashmir. Responding to President Musharraf's 'off -the -cuff' proposal, Manmohan Singh said, 'Kashmir is not a matter for discussion with outside agencies....It is not a proposal...If we receive it formally as a proposal, then we will react in an appropriate manner'. For Kashmiris and Pakistanis, atoot ang is a provocative claim, which could lead to the collapse of the ongoing dialogue. With 80,000 Kashmiris martyred by India thus far, it cannot and will not be allowed to get away by usurping Kashmir and declaring it as atoot ang. It is on record that in 1948 India took the Jammu and Kashmir problem to the United Nations. After ten years of deliberations, the United Nations Security Council decided that the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir be resolved by a plebiscite under United Nations auspices. UN resolutions have reiterated that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have the right to self-determination and are the final arbiters of their future. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, who hailed from Kashmir, accepted all UN Security Council Resolutions about self-determination and the plebiscite. He solemnly promised the Kashmiri people that they would determine their own future. He promised to comply with UN Security Council resolutions on the subject. He made this promise a dozen times on the floor of the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabah), at public meetings, in his letters to the United Nations, to Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, and to British Prime Ministers. At an opportune time, i.e. when Pakistan joined CENTO and SEATO pacts with the United States, Nehru retracted from all his commitments on Jammu and Kashmir and cheated the Kashmiri people by reneging on written commitments and solemn promises. Pakistan armed forces in 1947-48 were at a formative stage. Yet some volunteers helped the Kashmiri freedom fighters during the 1948-49 armed conflict in Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir became the most important item on the agenda of Ayub Khan's administration. Ayub Khan knew that an economically and militarily strong Pakistan was vital for national integrity and Kashmiri liberation. Kashmiris had to be freed and the shackles of Indian military occupation had to be broken. Ayub Khan had a small cabinet of dedicated colleagues. He tasked his brilliant Finance Minister Mr Shoaib to formulate plans for industrialization and infrastructure development, and to the Army, Air Force and Navy Commanders-in-Chief to restructure the armed forces. Pakistan's development plans were a model for developing countries. South Korea borrowed Pakistan's first 5-year plan and achieved sky-high development targets. Simultaneously, the Pakistan Army was re- equipped and retrained to handle state of the art Patton tanks, APCs, modern artillery, new mortars and small arms. Under the leadership of Air Marshal Mohammad Asghar Khan, Pakistan Air Force was re-equipped and trained to handle new F-86 and F-104 fighters, Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, B-57 bombers, high powered radars, C- 130 transport aircraft, amphibious aircraft, etc. Pakistan Navy had the Ghazi submarine and better warships. Pakistan's military realized that the Indian grip on Kashmir could only be unshackled by military power. India attacked Pakistan on the night of 5th-6th September 1965, but failed to destroy or defeat the Pakistan Army, the PAF or PN. In fact, the PAF inflicted a crushing defeat on the Indian Air Force. But Pakistan failed in its aim to eject the Indian Army from Jammu and Kashmir because it was short on infantry. Two more infantry divisions would have made all the difference. General Musa's wrong perceptions, poor selection of some divisional commanders and indecisiveness had an adverse effect on the outcome of the 1965 war. Kashmir was not liberated and the nightmare of Indian occupation has continued since. India wants settlement of the Kashmir dispute on its own terms. The repeated claims of atoot ang prove it. New Delhi is likely to continue with halting, stalling and prolonging tactics over the Kashmiris' right to self-determination and a just settlement of the problem. The President's new proposal should have been officially conveyed during Foreign Ministers' meetings. Neither the Parliament nor the cabinet was consulted before it was floated to the media. Even when formally submitted, it is likely to be rejected. The old saying that, ' what is lost on the field of battle cannot be regained on the negotiating table' should be kept in mind by the policy makers and the rulers when negotiating with intransigent Indian diplomats. Pakistan wants Kashmir for the Kashmiris. India wants to swallow up and usurp Kashmir as atoot ang. Pakistan must keep its national security interests and Kashmiri aspirations in mind on the dialogue table. Pakistan must keep its guard up and prepare for the day of reckoning to stop India from swallowing Kashmir by brute military force.