February 13, 2002


 Search the Internet

E-Mail this column to a friend
Print this page Best Printed on HP Laserjets
Recent Columns
Web of lies
Pak lies continued...
More Pak lies: on
    J&K this time
Pakistan's lies on
    Junagadh, Hyderabad
The climbdown

Arvind Lavakare

Danger in Kashmir

With India and Pakistan having become nuclear powers after their historic tests in mid-1998, it has become fashionable for the USA, and therefore the Western world, to talk of the Jammu & Kashmir imbroglio as being the globe's "nuclear flashpoint" -- to be avoided at all costs. As a matter of fact, the alarm of a total war on the issue would seem to have been sounded 36 years ago in a book of which large extracts are now posted on the Web at

Now, one had seen a reference or two to that book Danger in Kashmir by Josef Korbel in Justice A S Anand's scholarly treatise on the Jammu & Kashmir State Constitution. But the Internet site cites the cover-page blurb about "the value of this book" and then dubs it in a headline as the 'US Administration's Recommended Reading On Kashmir'. One therefore simply had to go through it, especially because the first paragraph under that headline goes as follows:

"At a White House briefing on 4 July, 1999, after three-hour meetings between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Bill Clinton, a senior Administration Official was asked about the US position on Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir. The reply was "we are very aware of the history of Kashmir. In fact, if any of you wish to, you can go back to Secretary Albright's father's book 'Danger In Kashmir' that he wrote after being on the first UN commission [on Kashmir]."

Now now. The American president and his officials engaged in serious three-hour meetings on the nation's sacrosanct Fourth of July? It lit a red light all right, but made one continue reading.

Next there is Korbel's conclusion based on "certain factors [that] stand out in the history of the conflict as immutable guidelines". Second among the factors listed is the assertion attributed to him that "the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be considered as valid by canons of international law".

The red light was so blazing now that it made one jump to the end of the page. It said, "Copies of 'Danger In Kashmir' by Josef Korbel available from the Pakistan High Commission, 1 Scotts Road... Singapore."

The game was up. Pakistan had once again used propaganda to convey its views to the huge Internet world.

The fact that the book publisher's name -- Princeton University Press, Princeton -- and the date of its publication -- (revised) edition, 1966 -- were ignored were more indicators that Pakistan was not bothered about the niceties of such a matter, but about the juicy meat in the book, not hesitating to spice it up on its own. Nevertheless, it all compelled one to read on.

And the discovery made was that none of the 64 pages of extracts from that book on the Internet site made that above point about J&K's accession to India being invalid by canons of international law. Was it then just a liberal dose of Paki sauce and spice? Read on.

On page 66 of his book on the Constitution of J&K published by Universal Law Publishing Co Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, in 1998, our ex-chief justice, Dr Anand, states that the public statement of the British government did not sustain Korbel's contention that "...the basic pattern for accession by the Princely States was being decided exclusively on a communal basis" (page 71, Danger In Kashmir, 1954 edition).

To prove his point, Dr Anand cited the statement of June 3, 1947, of His Majesty's government on the grant of independence. It stipulated that the Muslim-majority areas in provinces comprising British India should constitute the Dominion of Pakistan and the Hindu-majority area the Dominion of India. The statement made it clear that, on withdrawal of paramountcy, the communal basis of the division of India would not affect the princely states at all.

Actual events had also proved Korbel wrong. Despite having a predominant Hindu population as his subjects, Junagadh State's nawab acceded to Pakistan, though a unique people's agitation later forced the nawab and Pakistan to rescind that decision in writing. Hyderabad State, with over 85 per cent Hindu population, chose to be independent, even a member of the British Commonwealth (!), because its Muslim ruler, the nizam, was a vainglorious person. (His two ordinances banning the export of metals from Hyderabad to the rest of India and declaring the Indian currency as not being legal tender in his state ultimately cooked his goose and he came to the Indian fold like a lamb in 1948.)

The Hindu maharaja of predominantly Muslim-populated Jammu & Kashmir State also had visions of being an independent entity until the invasion of thousands of marauding tribals from the Pakistan side compelled him to make up his mind and accede to India.

Korbel's contention about the accession of princely states on an "exclusively communal basis" was thus not based on homework.

Korbel also goofed up in respect of several other parts of his book as excerpted on the Internet document. For instance:

  • In Chapter 3, he mentions the existence of 584 princely states at the time of India's independence; the actual number was 562.
  • In Chapter 8, he accuses the government in Srinagar of "doing everything in its power" to delay a plebiscite which he dubs as the "day of reckoning". Korbel forgot here that it was the Indian government in New Delhi -- not the state government in Srinagar -- that was to take the decision on plebiscite. He also forgot that the five-member UN Commission for India and Pakistan (of which he himself was a member) had made the withdrawal of all Pakistani troops and nationals from J&K a pre-condition for a plebiscite. Since Pakistan did not comply with that condition till Korbel revised his book in 1966 -- and even till today -- the charge of delaying the "day of reckoning" should have been rightfully made against Pakistan.
  • In Chapter 9, (added to the 1954 edition to pass off as the 1966 edition), Korbel mentions that when the prime ministers of India and Pakistan met in May 1955, India suggested that the status quo be maintained along the Ceasefire Line and that the fate of the vale be placed in the hands of a newly elected Constituent Assembly. He construed this to mean that "India had at least conceded the idea of an election of one kind or another in the Vale". That contention is fictitious because the 75-member J&K Constituent Assembly, elected in October 1951 on the basis of universal adult franchise, had ratified the state's accession to India in February 1954 itself. Moreover, India had, on the floor of the UN, no less, agreed as early as 1948 to a plebiscite in the whole of J&K, without waiting to meet the Pakistani PM in 1955.

    Did Korbel then also goof up that "the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India cannot be considered as valid by canons of international law"? That assertion, merely attributed to him in the Internet document without citing anything in support, could be verified only by reading his book's 1954 as well as 1966 editions in the original from cover to cover.

    Unable to access both those versions in Mumbai, this writer sought the help of Atanu Dey, doing his doctorate in Berkeley University, USA, and currently undergoing a stint as a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow, Stanford University. After burning the midnight oil on the two editions of Korbel's book borrowed from the university library, Dey reported on email the other day that "there is not a single sentence that justifies his [Korbel's] conclusion that the accession was contrary to the canons of international law".

    If so, it's elementary, dear Atanu, that the conclusion attributed to Korbel in the Internet document hosted by Pakistan was probably not Korbel's at all! His error lay in merely believing that even the princely states were to be acceded on a communal basis under the British Parliament's enactment. It was the Paki hosts who must have added spice and sauce to his view and transformed it into a blatantly anti-Indian conclusion. In the process, they concealed the fact that under the monarchical system of government, the ruler of a sovereign entity personified and represented his state as per law recognised in international practice.

    The encouragement to do that must have come from the fact that Korbel's book raises strong communal feelings between Muslims and Hindus and is generally pro-Pakistan. He mentions, for instance, that after the Hindu Dogras took over the territory after the Treaty of Amritsar signed with the British in 1846, "they immediately set out upon a policy of unlimited cruelty that seemed to vent upon the hapless Kashmiris all the pent-up hatred of the Hindus for the five centuries of Muslim rule. The willing instruments of this policy became the Kashmiri Pandits who shared with the Maharaja his contempt for his Muslim subjects." He also writes that the Hindus and Sikhs of J&K "intensified the bitterness of their thrust against Pakistan" and that "the Muslims of Kashmir fell before the rifles and swords of the Dogras" leading to the call for a jihad that exploded on October 22, 1947, with the tribal invasion of J&K from Pakistan. Was Korbel then justifying that invasion?

    Now, Korbel was a Czech diplomat who later became professor of international politics at Denver University, USA, and is known to have been a mentor of Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser in the current Bush administration. Although Czechoslovakia was India's choice as one of the five members of the UN Commission for India and Pakistan to resolve the J&K question, Korbel did not hesitate to take a pro-Pakistan stand. That, of course, is in keeping with the Western world's attitude all along towards India's righteous legal and moral position on J&K ever since the state was invaded by thousands tribesmen from Pakistan on October 22, 1947.

    It is this blatantly unjust partisanship of the West that continues to be India's biggest 'danger in Kashmir'. Nothing short of a fearless, clear-cut and constant reiteration of our righteous and legal stand will reduce that danger -- not even nuclear heads fitted on our Agni missiles.

    Arvind Lavakare

Tell us what you think of this column