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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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The  labyrinth  of  Kashmir insurgency

"Please don't let me go back to India. Keep me anywhere you like in your Northern Areas or locate me in Sinkiang and let me call upon the Kashmiris from there to give you their full support," said Sheikh Abdullah to Ayub Awan, Pakistan's Director of Intelligence Bureau in Mecca in 1965. The source of this piece of information is a Pakistani journalist, Altaf Gowhar  who wrote on 'Operation Gibralter' in the  Nation of 19 September and 3 October 1999.

The Sheikh had told Awan," If I call upon them (the Kashmiris) to rise in support of the plan, their response could be overwhelming."  To Awan's surprise, Ayub Khan showed no interests in what the Sheikh had conveyed. Z.A. Bhutto was opposed to accepting the Sheikh's help because in the words of Altaf Gowhar," if the plan (Operation Gibralter) succeeded, all the credit would go to Sheikh Abdullah". Bhutto didn't liked that.

Pakistani military machine took the low key operation of Indian troops in Rann of Kutch in 1965 as a sign of government's lack of determination.  The Pak GHQ, emboldened by Nehru's death and goaded  into hawkish stance by Z.A. Bhutto -  Aziz Ahmad (foreign secretary) combine, put before Ayub Khan the sand table of 'Operation Gibralter' of General Akhtar Malik, GOC-in-C, 12 Division. Putting his finger on Akhnoor, Ayub Khan said," Why don't you go for the jugular?" Neither the Corps Commanders nor the Air and Naval Chiefs were kept in know of the plan. In Mecca, where he had made a  detour round London in 1965, the  Sheikh  gave a  surprise to his scheduled visitor Ayub Awan about his knowledge of Pakistan's  'Operation Gibralter."

The Sheikh conveyed to Awan that if the 'Operation Gibralter' was based on the assumption that the people in the valley would welcome Pakistani soldiers, it was utterly false. "If I call upon them to rise in support of the plan their response could be overwhelming," he added.

The Hazratbal holy relic conspiracy preceded ' Operation Gibralter' by some months. Why was it unfolded prematurely and not simultaneously with that plan remains shrouded in mystery.  When late G. Q. Ganderbali, DIG, Kashmir indicted a top business magnate and social patriarch of Srinagar, who enjoyed  closest connections with the highest rung of Kashmir political leadership, and was about to unravel the entire conspiracy, he was removed from his post. The other accomplice in the conspiracy is now virtually the most powerful figure in leading regional political party. The conspiracy had two objectives; to destabilize Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad' s government, and to sensitize people to anti-India mood on the basis of religion. Perhaps that was the beginning of  theocratisation of Kashmirian society. It was late Maulana Masoodi, the truest well - wisher of  Kashmiris  who tried to stem the tide. This explains why he was gunned down by the militants at the ripe age of 90.

The holy relic episode took place soon after the failure of Swarn Singh - Bhutto talks in 1963.  It indicated that the Plebiscite Front would be activated and alternatives would be explored for separation of Kashmir from India.

When the Sheikh was set free during Sadiq's government, he became  a frequent visitor to one of the two elite  pro-Pakistani Shia families in the locality of Maisuma , Srinagar. Knowledgeable persons said that  close contacts of this family with the Pak intelligence sources served  the catalyst for the Shiekh to become privy to the Pakistani plan of ' Operation Gibralter'. Obviously the channel must have been the Pakistani military intelligence. This surmise is borne by the fact that the unnamed Maisuma resource person had drawn a comprehensive plan of Srinagar contacts for use once Operation Gibralter attained  the desired  goal.

It would be interesting to go a couple of years earlier to the Operation  Gibralter. In 1963, an organization by the name of Youth League was floated. Its members and activists had decided to wage an armed struggle against Indian presence in Kashmir.  In 1965, their plan ( of course having been drawn in tandem with the Pakistani intelligence agency) was to attack the Indian army from the rear once it got entangled in an armed conflict with Pakistani infiltrators. Of the three more mercurial leaders of Youth League, one was later on inducted as MLA, the second was given a plum government post and the third continues with his secessionist ideology today. At this time Maulavi Iftikhar Ansari, the Shia leader, also emerged on the scene with close connections with the Muslim Conference.

Looking back into the individual roles of the leadership in Kashmir during the Operation Gibralter, we find that  two outstanding persons, namely late Maulana Masudi and late Mohiu'd-Din Kara worked to foil the entire gameplan of  Pakistan.

On learning of Nehru's demise in May 1964, the Sheikh cut short his visit to Pakistan and PoK and returned post -haste to New Delhi. Later that year, he went to Algiers where he met Ahmad ben Bella, the renowned Algerian freedom fighter and President. It was in Algiers that the Sheikh met with the Chinese Premier Chou  En Lai. Undoubtedly this was an arranged meeting. What transpired between them is not known but at least it came in the papers that Ahmad Ben Bella had asked the Sheikh about the physical sacrifices made for the "liberation of Kashmir" and took him on a round of the graveyard where nearly 60 of his close relatives lay buried.  This indicates that the subject matter was "liberation of Kashmir" from Indian control " and of "sacrifices".

From Algiers, the Shiekh dashed to the Mecca under the rubric of performing the Umra.  Here he met with Awan Ayub,  the Pakistan super sleuth in a pre-arranged meeting  to talk further on  the subject of Operation Gibralter and his own role in it..

The failure of Pakistani infiltrators to make any substantial gains under Operation Gibralter in Kashmir turned a damp squib for the pro-Pak chapters whether in political arena or in the field of operation. In 1967, Afzal Beg launched Al-Fath operation in Kashmir on behalf of Plebiscite Front. The defence counsel  in the case of the detainees of Al-Fath insurgency was  the then General Secretary of National Conference.

The humiliating defeat of Pakistan in 1971 leading to her fragmentation  came as a rude shock to the Sheikh and those who towed his line. He ruminated deeply on how he had voluntarily struck at his own credibility. There was now no way out  but to seek rapprochement with the Government of India.  He had to succumb to the terms of Indira - Shiekh Accord of 1974 which catapulted him once again into the seat of power. Mir Qasim never forgave Indira Gandhi for what proved to be a disastrous turn in contemporary Kashmir history.

 

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