Blackest day in Kashmir: the 1947 invasion

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On October 22, 1947, militants supported by the Pakistani army invaded Jammu and Kashmir

by Saleem Samad

The people of Jammu and Kashmir, both in Indian-administered Kashmir and in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir, celebrate the black days on different days.

The first black day was marked on October 22, 1947, when Brigadier Akbar Khan was entrusted by the Pakistani army with a top secret invasion of the princely state of Kashmir just two months after the independence of the two neighboring countries.

Akbar Khan, a senior commander in the Pakistani army, was the mastermind behind the aggression against Kashmir and led the very first Indo-Pakistani war for Kashmir. The commander bypassed the Rawalpindi Military General Head Quarter (GHQ) when General Sir Douglas David Gracey was the C-in-C of the Pakistani Army.

The brutal commander was a WWII veteran. A war honored by the British Army for leading the “Burma Campaign” against the Japanese invasion of Southeast Asia.

Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), a disputed landlocked area in South Asia, has been the cause of multiple wars and border skirmishes between India and Pakistan since the birth of two new independent nations in 1947.

The war between India and Pakistan was fought over the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir from 1947 to 1948. It was the first of four Indo-Pakistani wars between the two neighbors.

In 1846, following the defeat of the Sikhs in the First Anglo-Sikh War and the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became the new ruler of Kashmir. In the course of the partition, the Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh signed a “standstill” agreement with Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, on August 12, 1947, two days before the formal independence of the state for Muslims in India.

In reality, Jinnah signed the standstill agreements with all princely states on Pakistani territory, including Kalat Khanate (Balochistan), Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Bahawalpur, Chitral, Swat, Hunza, Las Bela, Kharan, Makran and others. Unfortunately, all of Jinnah’s agreements were deliberately disregarded.

According to the agreed observance of British Raj, the princely states can join any country – India or Pakistan – or maintain the status quo as an independent nation. The decision to merge remained solely with the rulers of the princely states.

Most of the princely states signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan, the military occupied the territory by force and forced them to sign the accession treaty. Balochistan is one of the many examples in post-partition Pakistani history.

Jawaharlal Nehru expressed doubts that the agreements signed by Jinnah would not be honored, but for the Governor General of Pakistan [Jinnah] confidently denied his [Nehru] Suspicion.

Akbar Khan admits in his autobiography “Raiders in Kashmir” that he devised a strategy called “Armed Revolt in Kashmir”.

On October 27, 1947, Jinnah ordered General David Gracey to mobilize troops in the Kashmir Valley. Gracey declined, saying that all British officers had received a “stand-down order” from Commander-in-Chief Claude Auchinleck of the British forces in India and Pakistan in the event of war and conflict between the two countries.

The impatient Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan called the ambitious Brig Khan to a retreat in Lahore on the tense development in Kashmir, accession and a possible Indian military intervention. The meeting was attended by Colonel Iskander Mirza (then Defense Minister, later Governor General) and Chaudhri Mohammad All (then Secretary General of the Muslim League, later Prime Minister).

With full knowledge of Jinnah, the Pakistani military mobilized thousands of barbarians from the wildest Pashtun tribes in the Northwest Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) to invade Jammu and Kashmir under the command of Brig Akbar Khan.

An estimated 5,000 savage raiders armed with axes, swords and modern rifles supplied by the Pakistani army, as well as military trucks, were deployed to capture Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir.

The robbers known as “Lashkars” (military or militia) rioted. They looted, looted, killed and raped in the brutal invasion that caused thousands of Kashmiri experts to flee the valley.

At midnight on December 30th, an armistice came into effect on January 1st, 1948 at the behest of India. Pakistan accepted the fate of Jammu and Kashmir when the matter was taken over by the United Nations. Hence, Pakistani-occupied Kashmir is known as “Azad Kashmir” and installs a submissive government to rule the valley. The Azad Kashmiri puppet government has always been loyal to Rawalpindi headquarters because power is there, not Islamabad.

Since the stalemate in 1948, Pakistan has systematically distorted the history of Jammu and Kashmir. The false stories are smuggled into school books that are also documented in national museums and archives. Pakistan got away with it.

After the war, Akbar Khan fell from the grace of the Muslim League government. Liaquat Ali Khan named General Ayub Khan Chief of Army Staff after General Gracey retired on January 16, 1951. The rest is history!

Saleem Samad is an independent journalist from Bangladesh. He is a media rights defender, received the Ashoka Fellowship and the Hellman-Hammett Award. He can be reached at [email protected]; Twitter @saleemsamad


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