Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

India, Pakistan and Afghanistan

B. Padmanabha Rao

By B. Padrnanabha Rao

(1)

FOR a considerable time these three neighbouring countries have been in the limelight of international news. All of them are members of the UNO and proclaim that they sincerely believe in its ideals. They are next-door neighbours to each other, having a common frontier. Afghanistan is a sovereign independent Islamic monarchy, which has had a history and also made some history during the two wars in the present century. Pakistan is a new Dominion with no history behind it, but for the immediate past when the Muslim League in India preached the doctrine of intolerance and hatred and created an orgy of bloodshed and arson in the length and breadth of India. Having achieved Pakistan by preaching hatred against the Hindus, its creators are not able to control their masses in peace, in support of their State. The passions of the people are running high against the State itself for a vent. Mr. Jinnah achieved Pakistan by making wild promises to the Indian Muslims, the British, and the Arab countries of the Middle East. He promised that Pakistan would be an Islamic State governed by the Shariat–Rule of Personal Law. Many prominent public men in Pakistan, even in the League fold, proclaim that the present regime in Pakistan is a direct negation of the Shariat. The Pir Saheb of Manki Sharif, the trusted lieutenant of Mr. Jinnah in his fight against the Khan Brothers, and a member of the Muslim League Couneil, is among the disgruntled. He formed a rival Muslim League in the North-West Frontier Province claiming that it is the genuine one, and draWing the Muslim masses into his fold by his lead on behalf of the much-coveted Shariat. Quite baffled by the ever-increasing popularity of the Pir of Manki, the Premier of the Frontier declared the rival League illegal under the Frontier Regulations.

Mr. Jinnah promised to Britain that Pakistan would be a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and something of a vassal to Britain in the matter of foreign policy. This has had the approval of the U.S.A. State Department, and it is now an open secret that the Partition plan was drawn up as between London and Washington, embodying the dictates of the Foreign Office and the State Department. This plan received the unstinted support of the Conservative diehards of Britain. The creation of Pakistan was ‘Paradise Regained’ for Britain for the ‘Paradise Lost’ in India, and it was so till Mr. Jinnah’s death. This was proclaimed with evident satisfaction by Commodore Harvey in the House of Commons. This Conservative M.P. said also that Pakistan was more friendly to Britain than India and that there were three British Governors out of a total of four in Pakistan, and a number of Secretaries and Advisers. He also referred to the commercial and trade concessions that Britain enjoys in Pakistan as against the position in India. Mr. Jinnah nominated Sir Francis Mudie, the Governor of the West Punjab, to be his successor, keeping in view the security of the infant State which he so dearly cherished and also because of the efficient running of the administration. But then, how did Khwaja Nazimuddin become Governor-General? The leaders of Pakistan feared that East Pakistan might walk out of the camp to demand either a separate State, as the Karens have been doing in Burma, or for a re-union with the real mother, India, in view of the cold-shouldering by Western Pakistan. They brought the Premier of East Bengal and installed him in the vacancy “till a successor is appointed.” The Khwaja was more than satisfied and he helped to retain East Bengal in the Pakistan fold. West Pakistan also was satisfied.

But Mr. Jinnah’s Mudie could not keep silent. He began meddling in local politics. The Nawab of Mamdot’s Cabinet was dismissed and Section 93-A (Pakistan Constitution) rule established by appointing British Advisers to Sir Francis Mudie. There were constant bickerings, both internal and external. The Council of the West Punjab Muslim League has demanded the recall of Sir Francis Mudie and the appointment of a Pakistani to the post. They have also demanded that elections should be held immediately to the Legislative Assembly to form a popular Ministry to handle the affairs of the Province. These demands of the Muslim League Council have caught the Muslim leaders and Cabinet members of Pakistan, quite unawares. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan and President Chaudary Khaliq-uz-zaman started negotiations with Mian Abdul Bari (President, West Punjab Muslim League) over the affair, but he is sitting tight over the resolution. Further, there have been meetings, resolutions and demonstrations throughout Western Pakistan against Pakistan staying in the Commonwealth. Thus the problems of Pakistan have been ever-increasing, giving the dock to Mr. Jinnah’s assurances and proclamations.

Pakistan’s foreign policy has been, “Stab first; and comprain first that you are stabbed in the .” This is apparent in her policies towards India and Afghanistan, both her next-door neighbours. Afghanistan is an ancient Kingdom, and quite surprisingly, she has had a policy of antagonism to Great Britain from the very beginning. She fought the Indo-Afghan wars of 1901 with the active support of Czarist Russia and Weimar Germany, for which she had to pay heavy reparations to the British. Again in the Great War (1914-18) she fought on the side of the Germans and hit the British Empire in India. This opened the eyes of the British who planned to create a ‘Tribal Belt’ of Pathan Tribesmen with complete independence, internal and external.

(2)

This brings us to the topic of Pathanistan. The problem of Pathanistan is no new creation, as the Pak leaders allege in their accusations of the Khan Brothers, India, and Afghanistan. The people of the Tribal Belt between Pakistan and Afghanistan are of common stock with the Afghans and the Pathans of the North-West Frontier Province. Great Britain failed miserably in her attempts to woo the people and bag in this region for strategic purposes. Though British Imperialism devoured camels, this small, hilly, barren region has proved a deadly gnat to them. But British Imperialism never accepts defeat; so it staged a successful retreat, and adopted the policy of ‘Divide and Rule.’ Four districts inhabited by Pathans were included in the North-West Frontier Province, coming directly under the British flag in India, and a Tribal Belt was formed out of the rest, with an assurance that the independence of the Tribal Chiefs both in internal and external affairs would be safe-guarded and cherished by the British Government. The Phaktoons are a freedom-loving and peace-loving people whose energies can be profitably harnessed for peaceful avocations. This remarkable feat has been achieved by the Khan Brothers among the Frontier and Tribal Pathans under the banner of Khudai Khidmatgars in the Red Shirts’ Organisation. The credit of rallying them under a non-violent programme for peaceful ends goes to this Organisation which has, for its ideal, freedom from foreign domination through the observance of the Gandhian principles of Truth and Non-violence.

According to the present arrangement, which has been inherited from the British Government, the regions which are to the east of the Durand Line are being managed under the supervision of Pakistan, and those on the west are controlled by Afghanistan. But both the States claim that the Tribal Pathans belong to them by race, culture, geography, history and, finally, religion. Each of them is equally emphatic in making this claim. Why should these two strong neighbouring countries quarrel and break their heads over this rocky, barren soil which is less than 7,000 square miles, inhabited by about 600,000 ward, bigoted and ‘uncivilised’ people? But it is not merely the issues of race, religion etc., that are at stake. It is a life-and-death question, for either State. Afghanistan says that Mr. Jinnah gave them an assurance that Pakistan would not interfere in the affairs of Afghanistan vis-a-vis the Tribal area. But the successors of Mr. Jinnah in office, who preside over the policy-making, have not made themselves responsible for carrying on the pronouncements of Mr. Jinnah. Though Pakistan is the successor-in-title of the British Government which managed the affairs of the Tribal area, it has also inherited the preaching of evil and mischief among them, only to put down ruthlessly their ‘own brethren’ on provocation. The innocent Pathans have often been the victims of such a dastardly game. During 1946, when the Interim Coalition Government was in power in New Delhi, this area was bombed by the orders of the British Agent in Mardan in order to quell a Pathan riot which, according to the British Government, was spreading disaster and unrest in the otherwise peaceful Frontier. This was done unilaterally by the Agent, and when it came to the knowledge of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan he immediately informed Pandit Nehru of it, and the Pandit stopped the bombing immediately. But the Frontier Muslim League made political capital out of this incident by propagating that the Nehru Government bombed the innocent Pathans carrying on their peaceful activities! The same plot was unmasked by the honest Pathans themselves when Panditji went on his historic tour of the Tribal area, where he received an enthusiastic reception at their hands. But this bombing of the Pathans has been repeated several times by Pakistan.

The people inhabiting the Tribal area, on either side of the Durand Line, are Pathans who have affinity with the people of Afghanistan on the western side of the border and with those of the Pathans in the four border districts of the North-West Frontier Province. The Khan Brothers demand the right of self-determination for the people of this ‘no-man’s land’ along with the Pathans of Baluchistan and Kalat. They contend that the Pathans belong to a separate blood-group from the Punjabis, racially, culturally, and geographically. Afghanistan supports this contention and says that such a democratic right must be conceded to the Pathans of Pakistan who must be afforded a chance to express their wish to join their brethren on the other side of the border. Pakistan also says all this in her own favour, in support of her claims, minus the right of self-determination for the Pathans and the holding of a plebiscite. The reason is not far to seek: the Pathan is the same wherever he is, either in Afghanistan, in the Tribal area, Pakistan, Baluchistan or Kalat. Supposing the Pathans favour Pathanistan and vote for it, Pakistan will lose the whole of the North-West Frontier Province, Baluchistan, Kalat, not to mention the Tribal belt. Thus she will lose large slices of Western Pakistan, retaining only West Punjab and Sind. This remnant of West Pakistan will be lesser in area than East Pakistan, with only half of the latter’s population. The agitation that is at present gaining ground with a section of the League and also of the Congress in East Bengal might then lead to a demand for the shifting of the capital from Karachi to Dacca or Chittagong. Again, Pathanistan will have a common border, for a greater length with Indian Union in Kashmir and they can come closer still. The claim of Afghanistan for a right of passage through Pakistan to the port of Karachi need not then be pressed. Afghanistan will emerge as one of the larger States of Asia and the largest Islamic State. In the event of Pakistan winning the duel, the British, who have all along been the antagonists of Afghanistan, will reach to her very gates and indulge in a sinister diplomatic warfare, in alliance with Pakistan.

(3)

Very recently, Sir Mirza Ismail, former Dewan of Mysore, Jaipur, and Hyderabad, writing in a London newspaper, revealed that Soviet Russia is behind the claims of Afghanistan for the fight over Pathanistan. Russia is trying to come as near as possible to the gateways of the Indian sub-continent. She wishes to approach India and Pakistan by the land route via Kabul and the Khyber Pass, because the route over the Gilgit is a highly fortified one, with the heaviest garrisoning of troops all over the Indian and Pakistan borderlands. There is an overland railway-and-road route from Kabul to the Frontier, along which commerce is being carried on during peace time. There is wisdom in his contention, that a small and ward nation like Afghanistan spoiling for a fight with a powerful neighbour, supported by a strong international Power, is simply headstrong and foolish. Both parties invoke divine displeasure, and contend it is contrary to Islam, humanity, international law and rights, and What not! But in a recent instance the aggressor has been Pakistan which bombed the Afghan territory at Moghalakai in the southern province of Afghanistan on the 12th of June. Quite conveniently Pakistan denied the aggression and explained that the bombing had to be resorted to in self-defence against the rifle-fire opened on an R.P.A.F. plane by the men of the Faqir of Ipi and some members of the Afghan Levies on the Pakistan side of the Durand Line, and that an enquiry is proceeding into the whole affair. But, we in India know too well what credence to give to the ‘explanations’ of Pakistan’s aggressions. We know them in Kashmir, We know them in Jaisalmer, and many times at Ambala, Rawalpindi and in the Tripura State on the East Bengal border. This time the explanation is offered to a neighbour of ours, while on previous occasions, the explanation was offered to us, followed by counter-allegations.

Sir Mirza urged India and Pakistan to be friends and to iron out the existing differences in view of the impending ‘Red’ menace across China and Burma on the east, and through Afghanistan on the West. It is significant that the Red-bogey crosses only the land-frontiers and not so easily the water-frontiers, as may be seen in the cases of Eastern European countries, China, Malaya, Indo-China, and finally Burma. Afghanistan also must be viewed in the same context and, if inevitable, India, Pakistan and Burma as well. The hint must be taken by these three countries and acted upon quite soon, before being overpowered by the advancing forces. Moreover, the Muslims of the other countries did not prove difficult to be converted ‘Red’. So, let us beware.

(4)

Enlightened nationalist public opinion in India is satisfied with the achievement of Pandit Nehru at the Prime Ministers’ Conference. It is also gratified at the thought that President Truman has extended an invitation to Pandit Nehru to visit the U.S.A. The thought itself gives some satisfaction,–that our national leaders are being promoted to be international leaders of public opinion and that their counsels are likely to carry weight. Though we have offered to co-operate with Russia without sacrificing the fundamental concepts of democracy, Russia has been too shrewd and cautious to waver. We offered to co-operate with her in Indonesia, on the question of Colonies and Trusteeship, and race-prejudice and the much talked of ‘white-man’s burden’; but every time we were cold-shouldered and frequently let down. The first of the occasions was when India and the Ukraine contested the seat on the Security Council vacated by Turkey. There was the well-known deadlock over the 2/3rd majority, and India withdrew from the contest. But the contention of Russia was rather mischievous, that the British Commonwealth had already three seats on the Security Council–Britain, Canada and Australia–and this bloc was over-represented. Russia proclaimed this in spite of our having an independent foreign policy, distinct from that of the Commonwealth countries, and also our express assurance to Russia that we could co-operate with her on vital issues. We made an offer of a trade pact which has been received half-heartedly; the offer for a treaty of friendship, commerce and cultural relationship is being ‘studied’ by the accredited Russian Ambassdor in New Delhi, who will advise his Government. Except in the cases of South Africa and Indonesia, we have not been treated by USSR in the way that we ought to have been. This is only in politics; but in economics too it is the same. At the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and Far East Conference at Ootacamund, when our Delegation pressed for the de jure membership of Indonesia, there was not the unreserved support of the Russian Delegate while we were fighting the four die-hard imperialists–English, French, Dutch and American. Though we have no axe to grind against anybody, whether it is a neighbour or another, whether it is a big-power or a vassal State, we are particularly satisfied that our offer of friendship to America has been reciprocated. We can hope for better relations with her both economically and politically.

Once again, Russia is not late for the bus. Mr. and Begum Liaquat Ali have accepted the invitation of the Government of Russia to visit Moscow. This comes with special fervour when the Commonwealth Conference has ended and India has agreed not to snap the silken tie binding India to the Commonwealth with no ‘Crown’ to ‘link.’ Certain circles have expressed the view that Russia now intends to disrupt the Commonwealth by withdrawing the ‘most faithful member’ of the Commonwealth in Asia. Whatever Liaquat Ali Khan or Chaudry Klialiq-uz-Zaman may say about its being a personal invitation to the Prime Minister, the fact remains that the Kremlin does nothing without a motive: they are always very cautious in the Palace with Red tapestry.

What then? If Afghanistan and Pakistan are to be turned Red, it is only India that can remain an independent State in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Seeing the trend of events in Burma and Indo-China, is it not all the more necessary for the three neighbours with common frontiers to unite and fight the common menace by forming a Joint Defence Council with a common defence policy? This does not mean that we should be aggressive towards a fourth nation, as is the case of the Atlantic Pact countries, but only that we should stop our mutual bickerings and plan a common defence. This will avoid needlessly heavy individual defence budgets which are crushing our nationals, and enable us to divert vast resources to nation-building activities.

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