Plebiscite in Kashmir
Address to the United Nations General Assembly
October 15, 1965
By Zulfikar Ali Bhutto former Prime Minister of Pakistan and Chairman & Founder Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)
I apologize for taking the rostrum again on the question of Jammu and Kashmir. We have discussed it at great length, but it becomes necessary for me to take the rostrum again because of the remarkable, almost magnificent, distortion of facts which the Assembly has just neared from the heirs of those who were the first to be the champions of the literature of fairy tales and of distortion.
The representative of India, who took the floor just now, has outdone that great legacy of fiction. This performance of his this afternoon has been better than the rope trick. He has referred to Pakistan’s aggression, saying that in eighteen years it has committed aggression against India on three occasions. Pakistan is a small state. We are much smaller than India in our resources, in our population, in our ability. It is preposterous for anyone to contend, after an objective appreciation of all the realities that Pakistan would be given to aggression against a powerful and large neighbor like India. All that we have done in the last eighteen years has been to uphold our national sovereignty, to uphold the cause of justice, and to uphold a righteous course; and if, in so doing, we have been pitted against a merciless neighbor, a neighbor that has itself been given to aggression, whose policy is predicated and based on aggression, it is because we believe that a smaller people, a smaller country can withstand the slaughter and the aggression of a greater neighbor in the course of upholding principles and international morality. We have been accused of committing aggression against a country which is five times our size; a country which in eighteen years has an exemplary record of aggression; a country that has committed aggression against Junagadh, Manavadar, and Mangrol, against Hyderabad, against the State of Kashmir; a country which is responsible for the Sino-Indian conflict and which also seized Goa by force.
We do not condone imperialism. We do not say that there should be any vestiges of imperialism left anywhere in the world. On the contrary, it is our very cause, our very contention that we want to see the liquidation of all forms of colonialism; and that is why with all our resources and all our strength we are upholding the cause of the people of the State of Kashmir. It is not that we condone imperialism; it is that we condemn the methods India chooses in the settlement of disputes. The representative of India says that Pakistan has violated the United Nations Charter in upholding the cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I ask you, Mr. President and fellow delegates: Who has violated the United Nations Charter? What has been Pakistan s position? All that Pakistan has sought is the implementation of the United Nations resolutions and adherence to the United Nations Charter. It is we who, for the past eighteen years, have sought sedulously and tirelessly to implement the United Nations resolutions and the United Nations Charter. It is we who have asked India to implement the very resolution of the United Nations to which India is a party. That is all we ask. We ask that India, representing 400 million people and claiming to be the largest democracy in the world, should honour the solemn pledge which she gave in broad daylight in the United Nations of her free will and of her free accord. Not only did she give it here in the United Nations in 1948 and I949, but that pledge—that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will exercise their right to self-determination—was given by the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, repeatedly to the people of Pakistan and to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. All we seek is that India should fulfill her solemn commitments; yet India has the temerity to say that it is Pakistan that has violated the United Nations Charter. It is we who seek to uphold the Charter of the United Nations and to strengthen this international organization by pressing for compelling India to abide by its Charter and resolutions and to fulfill her commitment to Pakistan, to the people of Kashmir and to the United Nations.
The representative of India has referred to a so-called acknowledged leader of Kashmir and a co-worker of Sheikh Abdullah, who took the floor a few days ago from this rostrum—a man called Mir Qasim. He has been described as a co-worker of Sheikh Abdullah. But who is Sheikh Abdullah? Sheikh Abdullah is the Lion of Kashmir; the man who has waged a heroic struggle for the people of Jammu and Kashmir from 1931 onwards; the man who has been prepared to make any sacrifice for a righteous cause; the man who was regarded by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as the champion of the people of Kashmir, as a legend whose fame and glory knew no dimensions of territory, as a person who was a hero and a symbol of his people, as a person who symbolized freedom and the struggle for emancipation. These are not my words. These are the words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, paraphrased by me which are in the records of the United Nations. Yet that great hero, who symbolized freedom, is today in an Indian gaol. By proxy we are told what Sheikh Abdullah said, what Sheikh Abdullah meant; and the Indian representative has the audacity to quote a man who, in the eighteen years of our independence, has been incarcerated for eleven years or more by India. After the independence of India, this great comrade of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, this great symbol of the freedom movement, has been rotting in Indian gaols for more than a decade. When his son, the young Tariq Abdullah, who is a chip of the old block and a valiant fighter who has inherited the great tradition of his father and his people, takes this rostrum, he is ridiculed. In ridiculing Tariq Abdullah, the Indian representative is actually ridiculing Sheikh Abdullah. They have cause for ridiculing him, because it is that same Sheikh Abdullah who now languishes and rots in Indian gaols. We say: Release Sheikh Abdullah, the acknowledged leader of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and let the world hear what he has to say about the future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Yesterday, when Tariq Abdullah took the floor, he did say that, originally, Sheikh Abdullah, who had been given solemn pledges and assurances by the Government of India and by the Prime Minister of India that a plebiscite would be held in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, took those assurances at their face value. He believed them because they came from a Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world—from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. In view of those solemn and categorical assurances, he did cooperate with the Indian Government, but on condition that a plebiscite would be held in the State of Jammu and Kashmir to determine the future of the people of that state. However, when time and experience showed that all the Indian Government meant was to perpetrate a fraud on the people of Jammu and Kashmir, he was disillusioned. This was not the first time in history that leaders of a people have been ensnared, entrapped and deluded. Thus, when Tariq Abdullah took the floor, he said:
“This will give the Assembly some idea of the causes of my father’s disillusionment with India. For a man who had been a staunch nationalist all his life, a personal friend of Pandit Nehru, who condemned bigotry and fanaticism, and under whose leadership Kashmir remained untainted with any religious strife, it could not be but a wrench and a deep crisis to raise the banner of revolt against Indian occupation of Kashmir. Much though he loved the principles of secularism, he could not tolerate that, under their cloak, India should throttle the aspirations of the people of Kashmir, separate them from their brethren in Pakistan and hold them in bondage. He warned Mr. Nehru from 1952 onwards that India was following a disastrous policy in Kashmir, and that, if she reneged on the promise of a fair and impartial plebiscite, she would forfeit all claims to the respect and sympathy of the people of Kashmir as well as the people of the world. When in 1953 he publicly stated his to view that the future of India, Pakistan and Kashmir could not be secure without an honourable settlement of the Kashmir dispute, he was deposed and put in gaol. For a long time no legal proceedings were brought against him. When a case was filed, it dragged on for several years. Finally, Sheikh Abdullah was acquitted in 1964, but his freedom was short-lived. Since early this year he has been kept in detention without trial.”
So this is the truth about Sheikh Abdullah who now languishes in an Indian gaol, and who is being authoritatively quoted as representing the Kashmir position in so far as India is concerned. Yet when the authentic voice of the people of Kashmir, represented by Tariq Abdullah, takes this rostrum we are told by the Indian representative that what he utters is not true.
Let us see what Sheikh Abdullah has to say more recently. The Indian representative has quoted Sheikh Abdullah in 1947, in 1948, in 1950, when. under categorical assurances given by the Government of India, he made certain statements which would, later on, betray and belie him and which, though no longer of any relevance, are now being quoted to the Assembly.
But let us see the actual position, as it is today. The thinking of Sheikh Abdullah as revealed in February 1958, is this:
“Since my release, after four and a half years of detention, I have tried to explain my viewpoint and possible solutions in regard to various problems facing the political future of the State. With sufficient clarity, I hope, I have succeeded in elucidating the following principles: (a) So long as a final decision about the future disposition of Jammu and Kashmir State is not arrived at, the political uncertainty, the economic distress and the miseries which the people of the State are facing at present cannot terminate; (b) The existing strained relations between India and Pakistan are not only a source of great danger to the solidarity of Asia but also threaten the ruin of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; the dispute over Kashmir is one of the main contributing factors to these strained relations; and (c) The ultimate decision with regard to the future affiliation of the State rests with the people and can only be achieved by allowing them to exercise their right to self-determination under impartial international supervision in accordance with the universally recognised methods —as has already been agreed to by the parties concerned—or otherwise as is acceptable to them.”
Again, Sheikh Abdullah, addressing 20,000 people in Jammu on 9 April 1964—not 1948 or 1949—declared emphatically that it would be wrong to claim that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had already exercised their right of self-determination through free general elections, when the truth was that all the three elections held had been rigged. This charge was made, he, said, not only by him but also by all opposition parties in Jammu and Kashmir, including the Jan Sangh, an extremist Hindu organization.
In addition, on 15 April, 1964, speaking in Doda, a town in Jammu, Sheikh Abdullah said that the argument that the people of Kashmir had exercised their right of self-determination by electing a constituent assembly was beside the point, because no election was held on the issue of accession. He added that the elections were rigged, even according to the Prime Minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. G.M. Sadiq, when he made a certain reference to those elections which I shall not take up the members’ time to repeat here now.
Again, on 13 March, 1965, speaking at Nottingham, Sheikh Abdullah said:
“When we went to the Security Council it was decided that the question of Kashmir would be settled through a free and impartial plebiscite. Suddenly we started feeling that India’s opinion was changing. India was going back on her word. India wanted me to support her on this and it is from here that my quarrel with India started. We have no enmity with anyone. We only want to exercise our right. Once that right is achieved, I would have no objection if the people freely join this country or that, but whichever course they adopt it will be an honourable course. They will not be driven like cattle.”
This was in Nottingham, on 13 March, 1965, when Sheikh Abdullah was briefly released from gaol and was again imprisoned upon his return to India.
The representative of India has said that he does not want to waste the time of this Assembly by repeating all the arguments. None of us wish to waste the time of this Assembly but much more is at stake than the time of this Assembly, much, much more is at stake. The principles of the United Nations are at stake. The principle of self-determination is at stake. The causes of war and of peace are at stake, and it is necessary to speak out on these issues, because these issues have a bearing on the future of humanity. And it is the direct responsibility of this Assembly not only to hear them but also to resolve these disputes which lead to the slaughter of mankind, to bloodshed and to misery. So it is not a question of wasting the time of this Assembly. It is a question of bringing before this Assembly matters of dire importance which affect the peace in our region and which affect the future of our countries.
The representative of India has said that legally, morally and constitutionally the State of Jammu and Kashmir is a part of India. Sheikh Abdullah and many of us before that have informed the Assembly of the legal, moral and political issues involved in the future determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It has been said in defence of the Indian contention that no uprising has ever taken place and that at present there were only infiltrators who went in from Pakistan to be of assistance to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. And, in support of this contention, The New York Times has been quoted, authoritatively. I have here before me the most recent report from The New York Times, if that is an authoritative way of determining the future of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. On 13 October, The New York Times says: “Police in Kashmir kill boys; stoning by crowd is charged,” and there follows a long report of what is happening in Srinagar, how students are being killed, how demonstrations are being quelled, how popular uprisings are being quashed by the 200,000 Indian soldiers who are in the valley, and all this has increased since the fighting is taking place between India and Pakistan. The police forces and the militia of the State are all pitted against the poor, helpless, innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Again, on 14 October, 1965, there is another report from Jammu and Kashmir by the correspondent of The New York Times. He says: “School girls lead Kashmir crusade; hatred of India draws them out of cloistered life.” So the young school girls of the age of eighteen and younger have taken upon themselves the struggle with their comrades for the liberation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
These are facts; these are realities which cannot be ignored. There are demonstrations—we want plebiscite; long live Pakistan; long live the struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir—by young students, by mujahids, by freedom fighters, by the five million people of Jammu and Kashmir, all united indissolubly and indivisibly for a fight, for a just cause which cannot be denied to them. It is a righteous cause. They may be pitted against Indian bayonets; they may be pitted against the force, the might and the armada of the Indian army; but their sacrifices will not be in vain. The blood that they shed will not be in vain.
We are told that it was the freedom fighters that destroyed and looted and committed arson in Jammu and Kashmir. It is inconceivable for a people to commit aggression against their own people. It is inconceivable for the people of Jammu and Kashmir to perpetrate wrongs against their own brethren. When The Pakistan Times was quoted with reference to the burning of Patmulla village, it was not The Pakistan Times. The Pakistan Times was quoting All India Radio, and it reported All India Radio to have said that the village of Patmulla had been razed to the ground. I believe that Mr. Radhakrishnan, the President of India, visited Patmulla and saw for himself the destruction of that village; the burning of innocent men, women and children, and I believe even he wept. I am told that Mr. Desai, a former Finance Minister of India, when he was told that Indian soldiers and the Indian army had committed genocide and had burned villages, he said, in defence of that action, “well, if someone from Madras wanted to secede from India, I would not mind if villages in Madras were burned.”
However, the question of Madras or the question of any other constituent part of India has no relevance whatsoever to Kashmir. Kashmir has never been a part of India. Kashmir’s future has always been in dispute. I do not say this. This is what India has said. This is what India has maintained, that is, the future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be decided by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir is not a part of India. It can never be a part of India. It has never been a part of India. We have no quarrel with India, properly calling, with an Indian India; but Kashmir is not an Indian India.
This is not my assertion. These are the assertions, the pledges and the commitments of the Government of India itself, and in the space of eighteen years they cannot be forgotten. They can never be forgotten as long as the conscience of mankind exists, as long as there is civilization, and as long as there is a quest for freedom of peoples.
Pakistan is also a pluralistic society. We also have multi-racial and multilingual components of Pakistan. We have the Balochi, the Sindhi, the Pathan, the Punjabi and the Bengali, We would not like to see fissiparous tendencies encouraged in India. We would not like to see the disintegration of India. This process of disintegration can be harmful not only to India, but to its neighbours. We would like to see a strong India. We would like to see a consolidated India, a harmonious and peaceful India, but that India must be Indian India. That India must be a part of India, and not a disputed territory which has been taken by India by brute force and occupied by the imposition of its army and the bayonets.
It has been said that in Pakistan we are holding various nationalities by force, and reference has been made to certain regions of Pakistan. This is a problem of the people of Pakistan, and if there is any dispute which Pakistan may have with others it is none of India’s concern. Our relations with Afghanistan are most cordial. During the war with India, I know for certain where the sympathies of the people of Afghanistan lay, as demonstrated by the people of Afghanistan and reiterated by the Government of Afghanistan.
The King of Afghanistan, in a communiqué to the President of Pakistan, said: I as a King give you assurance, I as a Muslim give you assurance, I as an Afghan give you assurance that we are with you, and we will never betray you.
It is none of India’s concern to meddle in Pakistan’s internal affairs. We would not want to meddle in India’s internal affairs. By resorting to a just settlement of the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir we are not interfering in India’s internal affairs, because the problem of Jammu and Kashmir is not a question of India’s internal affairs. It is a question of India fulfilling her pledge to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and it is a question, pure and simple, of the exercise of their right to self-determination.
It has been said by the representative of India that the problem is of a much greater dimension, that the problem does not concern Kashmir alone. It is one of religious bigotry. It is one of intolerance.
Pakistan has friendly relations with all its neighbours, except, unfortunately, India, and that is not because of any failing on the part of Pakistan. We have friendly relations with Nepal which is a Hindu state. The majority of the people of Nepal belong to the great Hindu religion. We have over ten million Hindus in Pakistan and they have lived in peace. Their lives, property and honour have never been jeopardized. We have hardly had any communal disturbances, whereas in India, secular India, they have had over 600 odd communal disturbances. Even during this war they had communal disturbances in which minorities were maltreated.
The representative of India contradicts himself when he says that the Muslims of India fought valiantly for India during the struggle against Pakistan; that they were amongst the highest decorated soldiers. I bear tribute to their valour. I bear tribute to all the soldiers of India who fought heroically in this war, but does this not show that our dispute with India is not a religious dispute? That it is not a communal dispute? It is a national dispute. It is a dispute over principles. It is a dispute over the right to self-determination. It is a dispute over the implementation of international agreements. If it were a religious dispute, if it had to deal with the determination of a communal future, then why should the Indian Muslims have fought so valiantly and so bravely?
But because it is not a communal dispute, because it has nothing to do with religion, the Indian Muslims—as they rightly should do according to their great tradition and according to their great religion—fight for their motherland, and we salute their bravery, whether they be Indian, whether they be Muslims, Hindus or Christians. So also those who fought for Pakistan, whether they be Muslims, Hindus, Christians or Buddhists, fought for their motherland. They fought against a predatory aggressor and that is why it is not a religious issue. It has nothing to do with religion. It has nothing to do with bigotry. It has to do with the most sublime and the most liberal principles which have been upheld by mankind, that is, the future of a people, their liberty, their freedom, an international obligation, an international commitment. These are the principles for which Pakistan has fought, and not on the basis of religion or communalism, which the representative of India, himself, by contradicting himself, has established for Pakistan.
The dispute over Jammu and Kashmir transcends not only religious frontiers, but also national frontiers. This dispute is not only the concern of India and Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the concern of the United Nations. It is the concern of the international community. Just as the international community has supported the freedom movements throughout the world, wherever they be whether in Asia, Africa or in any other part of the world, it is its moral obligation to support the freedom movement of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
We are not fanatics, we are not bigots. We want peace in order to develop ourselves, in order to give a better life to our people, in order to make progress so that, after centuries of misery, after centuries of poverty, we can march forward. We should also progress and have a better life. This is our concern and our ambition, and we want the whole international community to march side by side with us in the determination of these high objectives.
But in life, men have fought for honour, men have fought for self-respect, men have fought for pledges and for nations. They may be small. Their resources may be limited. They may be subjected to one aggression after another. They may face overwhelming obstacles. They may face overwhelming odds. But finally they must triumph.
It is our conviction, it is our belief in God, it is our belief in international morality and in the conscience of mankind that the people of Jammu and Kashmir shall not be an exception to this long and glorious march of mankind for justice, for peace and for honour, and as far as Pakistan is concerned, it is pledged, it is honour-bound to fulfill this promise to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We shall never tire. We shall never rest. We shall continue relentlessly and dauntlessly for the achievement of the right to self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and for the fulfillment of international obligations entered into solemnly by sovereign states and sanctified and baptized by the United Nations. This is our right and this we shall fight for, irrespective of the consequences.