It is a misnomer to call Pakistan’s naked aggression on Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 as ‘tribal raid.’ Pakistan organised the invasion and directly supervised operations.
There is some evidence that even by last week of May 1947 Pakistan gave shape to plans to forcibly annex Jammu and Kashmir. Major Onkar Singh Kalkat, who had opted for India and was awaiting repatriation, was posted at Bannu, North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
On 20 August 1947 he stumbled upon a letter marked ‘Personal/Top Secret.’ It was addressed to his Brigade Commander CP Murray, a British army officer, and signed by Gen.Frank Messervey, Chief of Staff of Pakistan army.
Attached to the letter was an appendix that detailed the plan of ‘Operation Gulmarg’ for invasion of J&K. The plan envisaged key role for Pashtun tribesmen. The Pathan officers from the Frontier Force Regiment were to function as commanders of the lashkars.
In August 1947 itself, Gen.Thimayya had gone to Lahore to attend a meeting of the Boundary Force. He overheard Pakistani officers talking about stationing their respective regiments at Gulmarg and Pahalgam. About the same time, two senior commanders of 11 Cavalry (Frontier Force) were asked to participate in the task of Jehad-e-Fisabilillah (‘Freedom for Kashmir’).
1. Peshwar Plan
This Plan, conceived by NWFP Chief Minister Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan, involved use of tribal lashkars for invasion of Kashmir. Senior Britishers serving in Pakistan army and NWFP Governor Sir George Cunnigham were kept in loop about this plan.
2. Lahore Plan
This plan had been prepared under the directions of Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, a minister in West Punjab government. In this plan Colonel Mohammad Kiani talked about pincer attack from Kashmir and Jammu.
His plan had three main features:
1. Organising armed groups in Poonch which would then march to Srinagar.
2. Organising underground subversive network in Kashmir valley which would stage revolt when needed.
3. Disruption of line of communication on Kathua-Jammu road to prevent Indian reinforcements to Kashmir.
In the first week of September 1947, Pakistan Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan directed Col.Akbar Khan to make another plan.
Col.Akbar Khan’s plan ‘Armed Revolt inside Kashmir’ was not much different from Kiani’s plan but stressed that Poonchis and Mirpuris be given the main role in the invasion.
Chief Ministers of NWFP and Punjab were directed to sort out the logistics for the invasion. They were given specific instructions to enroll ex-servicemen from Poonch and Punjab to provoke large-scale violence in Poonch and organize border raids from Kathua to Mirpur.
Recruitment of Pashtun Tribesmen
By the end of second week of September 1947 Major Khurshid Anwar and Pir Manki Sharif toured NWFP extensively to recruit tribesmen for ‘Jihad.’ The entire operation of arming and recruitment of tribesmen for Kashmir campaign was directly under supervisory control of NWFP govt.
Raw religious emotions were worked up to recruit tribal lashkars and a force comprising tribal lashkars and Pakistani soldiers in civvies was mobilised to launch an invasion.
All criminals in the tribal belt of NWFP were given general amnesty for joining ‘jihad’ for Kashmir. The Chief Minister of NWFP also arranged joining of thousands of Afghan Parwindas in Kashmir campaign. The tribesmen were also tempted that war booty in Kashmir captured by the invading force would be theirs.
Besides Pathan lashkars other elements that were involved in the invasion force were workers of Muslim League and Communists led by Latif Afghani.
In June 1948 at the instance of Pakistan government, Ahmedi leadership helped raise Furqan battalion from young volunteers of Ahmedi community. Some retired officers belonging to Ahmedi community too were recalled and attached to Furqan battalion.
The main role in the invasion was given to the Pakistan Army, the Frontier Constabulary, the Kassadars and Tribal Levies. Khwaja Abdur Rahim, a communal maniac and a known scamster, was posted as Commissioner of Rawalpindi.
He was directly involved in handling logistics. Jamaat Islami ideologue Maulana Abul-Ala Maudoodi and Ahmedi leaders Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmed were approached to render help.
Pakistan deputed Nasira Siddiqui, a top Muslim League worker, to Srinagar in early August 1947 to subvert the loyalty of Muslim officers in the state bureaucracy and army to support its game-plan. She received a bullet injury at Pattan on 27 October 1947.
Mahmud Ahmad, an Ahmedi leader, allegedly sent 700 rifles and a huge cache of ammunition to Hameedullah Khan, President of Muslim Conference.
Many Muslim Conference workers from Srinagar were taken to Abbottabad and trained in the use of firearms. At the end of August 1947 senior bureaucrats of provincial administration of NWFP smuggled arms and ammunition to Srinagar and distributed this to different Pakistan cells.
Ex-servicemen, belonging to West Punjab and NWFP, were sent to Kashmir and stationed at strategic points.
Border raids were organised to disperse the state forces and target Hindus and Sikhs. Loot, arson, killings and abduction of women continued unabated.
NWFP Governor Sir George Cunnigham admits that Jinnah knew everything about the Kashmir invasion. Shaukat Hayat Khan corroborates that Jinnah okayed the plan. In fact, Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan fully endorsed Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan’s plan to recruit Pashtun tribesmen. It was Jinnah who arranged condemned ammunition for two fronts at the instance of Shaukat Hayat Khan.
Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan had his own force, comprising the members of the Frontier Police, separate from that of Major Khurshid Anwar’s tribesmen. When the two forces converged near Srinagar a dispute arose about who would make a triumphant entry into Srinagar for plunder. There were armed clashes among the warring factions leading to many casualties.
Pakistan made another attempt to annex Kashmir valley through Tithwal in February 1948. The last remnants of the raiders were flushed out from Kashmir valley by early June 1948.
Dr Ramesh Tamiri
Dr Ramesh Tamiri is a researcher on the history, politics and culture of Kashmir. He has been regularly writing on these subjects in different periodicals. He has worked on oral history of Pakistani invasion of J&K (1947-48) for twenty years. His two books on the theme will be published early next year.