DN Panigrahi is an acknowledged authority on the politics of Jammu & Kashmir. A former Visiting Professor at Jamia Millia Islamia University, a man with a wide experience of teaching and, as Research Director and Administrator at the Centre of Contemporary Studies, Nehru National Memorial Library had access to Minutes, Notes, Diaries and private correspondence of practically every major statesman in Britain, the United States and India, his deep study of the early stages of the Kashmir issue cannot be challenged. This book is not specifically about the conflict between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. It takes a longer view of the international strategies pursued, in the first instance by Britain and the United States for their own selfish reasons, to the detriment of India.
To begin with, it was Britain that played a dirty game, and it is a miracle that India has remained in the Commonwealth, despite Britain’s persistent machinations against it. Right from the day Partition was even conceived, one of the worst enemies of India was Britain’s Prime Minister Harold MacMillan. Clement Attlee who was Prime Minister when Pakistan was created, was no better. Practically every British official in undivided India whether in the Army or in the Civil Service favoured Pakistan and its claims to Jammu & Kashmir. Indeed, the then Secretary of State for India, Lord Listowel had openly expressed his view that Jammu & Kashmir should be part of Pakistan.
The aim was plain. As Attlee put it, it was important for Britain to be on the side of the “Muslim World”, firstly to “contain Russian expansion and communism” and secondly, to exploit the Middle Eastern oil for use in the expected post-Second World War “Air Age”. For Britain, India was expendible. This comes through clearly in this book. So vicious was Britain, that in the aftermath of the Chinese attack on India in 1962 when India was literally down on its knees, intense pressure was brought to bear on India to come to terms with Pakistan, for all intents and purposes on Pakistan’s terms. India, thank god, had the courage to stand up to this blackmail. If Britain was strongly anti-India, the US, under British tutelage, also started taking an anti-India stand. This became particularly clear during the regime of President Nixon whose hatred of India has no parallel in history. During the 1972 war over Bangladesh, Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a man who hated India even more, wanted China to enter the fray and attack India. Were it not for a Soviet warning, there may have been a Third World War. Panigrahi has so many revelations to make of the skullduggery indulged in by the US government.
Nehru reiterated his insistence that the first step was to drive out the raiders. Panigrahi quotes extensively from a variety of sources such as Gopalaswami Ayyangar, Clement Attlee, US Ambassador to India Chester Bowles, Sir Olaf Caroe, the last Governor of the North West Frontier Province, John Foster Dulles Walter Crocker, President Dwight Eisenhower Averell Harriman, Zafrullah Khan and a whole lot of others. MacMillan’s Commonwealth Secretary, Duncan Sandys was particularly obnoxious and was not above blackmailing India when it was in dire circumstances. He told his Prime Minister “Having pushed the Indians on the defensive, I would regard it as a great mistake to relax our pressure at this moment”. When Nehru turned to Soviet Union for purchase of armaments that the US had refused to provide, MacMillan wrote to President Kennedy saying: “The best course might be for you to send a personal message to Nehru warning him that a decision by India to buy armaments from Russia might prejudice the attitude of Congress so gravely as to endanger seriously India’s future prospect of obtaining continued aid from the United States”.
Neither MacMillan nor anyone else had any complaint against Pakistan when it sought aid from China. The US, too had befriended China and it is recorded that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto once told India’s Foreign Minister Swaran Singh that he should hand over Ladakh to China, no doubt with Washington’s approval. As for Britain, its anti-India record is there for all to see. It once even went to the extent of suggesting that the Valley of Kashmir should be “internationalised”!
With ‘friends’ like Britain and the United States, India needs no enemies. Before holding any talks with President Obama, our Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh must spend a few hours reading this highly enlightening book. It tells it as it is, with no one spared. Unfortunately Panigrahi stops his analysis of the situation around 1989 claiming that it is “a separate story beyond the scope of this book”. No matter. It is important that in this day and age, we don’t let ourselves to be taken for granted by anybody. Especially on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir. This book tells why.