After abrogation of Article 35-A, PM Modi’s next agenda is to get back the Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) and making it the foremost priority and more sovereign
The time has come to finish the unfinished agenda of partition of India. Pakistan occupied part, of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, is begging to be reunited with the rest of India, and logically too, after amendment of article 370 and abrogation of 35-A of our constitution, which were the main impediments behind the full integration of the said state, the next step must be to retrieve the areas which are in illegal occupation of Pakistan. It is encouraging that ,statements from the ruling party’s ministers including Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Jitendra Singh, are indicating that soon some concrete steps are going to be taken to reclaim our land without which the state of Jammu & Kashmir is incomplete.
It is important to understand that when Maharaja Hari Singh signed an instrument of accession with the Union of India, he did so for the entire state of the J&K and not only for the truncated part which is with us now. Lot has already been written about Pakistan’s fraudulent action of how it sent its regular army units in unison with armed gangs of Afridi tribe to occupy the state of J&K. India sent its troops to stop the marauders and while they were being pushed back, the weak knee approach of the then leadership referred the matter to the United Nations. Had our army been given permission, it would have retrieved the whole of the territory belonging to the state of J&K and there would not have been any problem now in connection of the said state. In any case, annals of history cannot be changed but brave nations, learning from the mistakes of the past, chalk out future course of action which determines their destiny.
The area which is illegally occupied by Pakistan can be broadly divided in three parts; Mirpur falls in the Jammu division, Muzaffrabad in Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan are parts of erstwhile princely state of J&K which are further north to Kashmir valley. Areas in Jammu division which are in occupation of Pakistan toady, were snatched by engineering mutiny in Muslim troops of Maharaja Hari Singh’s army units which were stationed in Poonch at the time of annexation of the state with the Union of India. Muzaffrabad was usurped by Pakistan during tribal raids. However, the larger territory of Gilgit, Hunza and Baltistan was taken away by Pakistan with active collusion of the then British army commander Frank Messervy who was commander in chief of the Pakistani army too.
Maharaja Hari Singh had stationed his army units in Gilgit under the command of Brigadier Ghansara Singh. British army officer William Brown conspired to kill the Brigadier with the help of Muslim soldiers of Gilgit scouts and made the area fall in the lap of Pakistan like ripe fruit. Gilgit, historically holds very high strategic value; the British had taken this area on lease from the Maharaja and had stationed their troops there to thwart any potential threat from Soviet Russia. The British abrogated the lease deed on 1st August 1947 and then onwards the said area came back under the governance of Maharaja. Legally, the said area is inseparable part of the state of J&K.
Gilgit holds utmost strategic importance for India. Not only it connects us with Afghanistan, it is our gateway to Central Asian republics too. If we trade with Central Asia and Russia through the route passing through Gilgit, it will be a win- win situation for everybody
Gilgit holds utmost importance for India in strategic terms. Not only it connects us with Afghanistan, it is our gateway to Central Asian republics too. If we trade with Central Asia and Russia through the route passing through Gilgit, it will be a win- win situation for everybody. They will find humongous Indian market for their hydro-carbon reserves and India will gain by exporting industrial items and agricultural products.
At present, Afghanistan is depends on Pakistan for sea access and the latter is not giving passage through its territory for Indo-Afghan trade. Once Gilgit comes back, we can have unhindered trade with Afghanistan. Right now, with the support from its Taliban stooges, Pakistan is not letting democracy thrive in Afghanistan; once India’s connection with the latter are established through Gilgit border, it can be safely hypothesised that Taliban interference in Afghani government will reduce and in turn democracy will flourish there. Moreover, apprehensions of Pakistan pushing Taliban into Kashmir will also diminish. Now is the right time when India, after the amendment of article 370 and abrogation of 35-A, should endeavour to take back its territories which are of utmost importance in strategic terms. One conclusion, without any doubt, can be drawn that Pakistan is not going to vacate the occupied territory by sitting on negotiating table; sending armed forces to reclaim the land is only one solution available to India.
Geo-strategic factors also are favourable for India at this point of time. Notwithstanding sabre rattling by Pakistan, it is in no position to fight a conventional war with India owing to its inferior war machinery. It’s economy is in shambles and there is every possibility that it is declared bankrupt, sooner than later. Analysts are also drawing scenario of China intervening militarily in the conflict; however, at present, that country’s hands are full owing to its involvement in trade wars with the USA. Therefore, it is time for India to strike while the iron is hot. Needless to say that delayed action will enable the enemy to gain more strength.
(The writer is Mumbai based columnist)