In conversation with Late Sardar Khalid Ibrahim
Sardar Khalid Ibrahim Khan was a veteran politician of Pakistan administered Kashmir. He was a member of AJK legislative assembly and the President of Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party. He was the son of Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, founder President of Azad Jammu Kashmir government which he helped set up in Rawalpindi on 24-Oct-1947. Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim is also known as Bani-e-Kashmir and Ghazi-e-Millat in Pakistan and Pakistan administered Kashmir.
Sardar Khalid Ibrahim died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 70 on 4th November 2018 in Islamabad. He was known for his principled stand in politics and was considered a fearless voice for democracy in AJK Assembly. He was elected to the AJK Assembly thrice during his political career spanning over 35 years.
In an interview via email with Omer Farooq on 16th May 2018, Sardar talks about the historical and controversial events unfolded at the birth of Kashmir issue in 1947. The interview is published now.
1. Your father led the first insurgency by which the present Azad Jammu and Kashmir got liberated. Kindly tell our readers about that experience shared by your father with you.
Knowledge of history and his swift entrance as a student lawyer and legislator of Dogra rule convinced Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan in 1947 that this was the right time to rise and revolt against the tyrannical and repressive hundred years old Dogra rule. Decided to launch an armed struggle in the absence of senior Muslim Conference leadership, who were striving for a responsible form of government under the aegis of Maharaja Hari Singh. Consequently, liberated 4500 square miles of Azad Kashmir territory and 28,000 square miles of Northern Areas.
2. What is the legal and political importance of 19 July 1947 resolution?
Resolution of 19th July 1947 identified new political objectives of this struggle i.e. Self-determination of the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and accession to Pakistan. Legally, Pakistan became the party to the conflict.
3. Why did first insurgency fail in Kashmir?
Insurgency achieved its objective of the right to self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir state, which was recognized by the international community through UN resolutions and Azad Jammu and Kashmir became a base camp for the realization of this right.
4. Did Pakistan employ economic coercion against Kashmir and violated standstill agreement?
Stand Still agreement was stratagem by the Maharaja to buy time to advance his own objectives to accede to India. An indigenous movement forced Pakistan to change its policy.
5. Did Pakistan refuse to withdraw her troops from Kashmir?
Pakistan was supposed to totally withdraw its troops and India had to pull out the bulk of its troops. Initial and first withdrawal of troops became a continuous issue as mistrust on both sides was an obvious factor at that time.
6. It is said that India agreed to the idea of Independent Kashmir, but Pakistan resisted. What are your views?
The accession of Kashmir to India signed by the Maharaja was contingent to a referendum. There was no option of independent Kashmir backed by Indians. Pakistan supported the popular will of the people which was Accession to Pakistan.
7. Is Independent Kashmir viable in this era of interdependence particularly where India has no good relations with its neighboring countries?
Independence for a landlocked country which has four strong nuclear neighbors is not a viable option militarily, as well as economically.
8. Did Pak commit aggression through tribesmen and regular troops?
The policy of sending regular troops to Kashmir was adopted only after an indigenous struggle started, later tribesmen came to their help and Indian forces landed in Kashmir. Furthermore, tribesmen came to Kashmir on 22nd of October 1947, and a revolutionary government of the state of Azad Kashmir was formed by 24 of October, so it is evident that story of tribal intrusion prior to indigenous movement is not historically supported.
9. Was approval of accession by Kashmir constituent assembly an exercise of self-determination by Kashmiris?
No assembly on either side has a locus standi to adopt a mechanism to exercise the right to self-determination of people of Jammu and Kashmir until UN holds a plebiscite to do so.
10. What if Gilgit is given provincial status by Pakistan? Will it affect the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir?
Change of status of Gilgt Baltistan will be a violation of UN resolutions, Karachi Agreement of 1949, and Sino-Pak agreement of 1963. It will drastically hurt the international personality of Kashmir cause.
11. How far have different governments of Azad Jammu and Kashmir played their responsible role for awakening the Kashmir issue?
Depends on who these governments were led by, but most of these governments were committed to the right to self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and right of vote for the masses of Azad Kashmir.
12. What is your message for people of Indian administered Kashmir, AJK govt and Pakistan govt vis a vis Kashmir resistance movement?
People of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), the way they are struggling for their right to self- determination have shaped unprecedented history in modern times which is a message for all freedom-loving nations. Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir should not let the international personality of the dispute diluted.