My dear Friends,
You have listened to the address of the President of Azad Kashmir, and so have I with great attention. Sardar Ibrahim is our respected friend. He is your President, and elected President, and a well-known politician of the area who has been in politics for long. He has articulated his views. Besides him, many other well-known and distinguished political figures of Kashmir are present here today. They, too have listened to his speech.
Two years ago also, you honored me by inviting me to this place. On that occasion too a Sardar who was also the President of Azad Kashmir, made certain observations and demands. Frankly, I dread the Sardars. In fact, I am so afraid of them that I have abolished the Sardari system in Pakistan.
Legally speaking, with the end of the Sardari system, even the tallest poppy among the Sardars has disappeared. But my friend in Azad Kashmir who is presently sitting by my side and who is also your President, I mean Sardar Ibrahim Khan, and your former President, who is also somewhere here, though we cannot meet him right now, are also Sardars. So long as the two of them do not renounce their Sardari, your struggle and my struggle will remain incomplete. So tell us, Sardar Sahib, should we address you as Mr. Ibrahim. (At this point, the President of Azad Kashmir announced: “I respect Prime Minister Bhutto. I respect his orders. In the Poonch area, there is no Sardari system. That is a fact. Therefore, from now on nobody should ever write Sardar before my name”.) Thank you. Very kind of you. You have relieved me of a great burden.
You have raised very complicated issues. I remember when I came here last time you had similarly raised some extremely important issues. But these were not the issues of a particular party. Every party had taken the stand that as the people of Azad Kashmir feel an attachment to Pakistan, why should I object to their being given a provincial status, and how can that harm the stand on Kashmir. You presented your case with great logic. It was not my proposal. I assure you I had not come here to sell any such idea. In fact, I did not want to touch upon any such matter here nor did I want you to do it.
But, when I came here, everybody was saying that we are neither here nor there. We do not know what would be our position till the final settlement of the Kashmir problem. In what legal or constitutional framework would we fit in, because there is no scope for us in the Constitution of Pakistan, nor otherwise do we enjoy any special status. We are told that this area is under the control of the Pakistan Government and that control is being exercised through the civil servants of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs. In other words, one department of the Pakistan Government manages the administration and the affairs of Azad Kashmir, its political and economic life as well as the struggle of its people. Under these conditions, it was said, how can we develop and move forward? How long can the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs go on fighting for us? And in any case, how far can they go? At one time, the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs did not have even a full-fledged Secretary; it was under the charge of only a Joint Secretary. There was no separate Minister for Kashmir Affairs.
You were right in saying that if you want us to progress and develop, then this system of placing our affairs and destiny in the hands of one Department will not work. You hacked up your argument with facts and figures.
But see the change now. In the First Plan, about Rs. 10 million were provided to you for the development of Kashmir. In the Second Plan, the allocation was Rs. 30 million and in the Third it was Rs. 90 million. All told, about 135 million were allocated for the development of Kashmir in 15 years. But during the last four years, Rs. 335 to 360 million have been provided to you for this purpose.
Frankly, I could not visualise that you would raise this question. When I came here the last time, every political party asked me to bring you still closer to Pakistan, and make your voice stronger. I was told: Give us a greater say and representation in institutions like the Provincial Co-ordination Committee. We need food-grains, sugar and other things. We cannot put forward these needs through the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs. We would like to have representation on the Provincial Co-ordination Committee, which is attended by Chief Ministers of all the Provinces. This would enable us to take up our problems in the Committee. In this way, we would be able to make progress and achieve prosperity.
At that time I had told you that this matter had many facets, and objections may come from some quarters. However, after I had heard you I was satisfied because all of you — those who are present here today as well as those who are not — had discussed this matter with me and said the same thing. I was satisfied with your arguments and had said that we shall see how we can come still closer to each other without in any manner harming the Kashmir cause. But you know there was a good deal of agitation over this matter and some people started alleging that the Kashmir question was finished, and there was a compromise and a secret deal.
I am repeating all this because this matter originated from here. But you have seen that the Azad Kashmir Council has been formed, you have received more powers and it is no longer one department holding the rein. All major issues now come up before the Council. A new Constitution has been framed. All this has come about but no harm has been done to the Kashmir cause. The position remains the same. The change has made you happy, the pace of your development has increased, and your voice now makes greater impact on the Pakistan Government.
Now you are raising this question of representation. There will be people who will turn round and say what is all this happening why this representation is being given. Dear friends, India’s opposition is understandable, because having occupied Kashmir, she has been claiming that the territory has become her inseparable part and therefore cannot be given up. We know they will say that as a matter of faith they cannot leave Kashmir as that would jeopardize their whole concept of secularism. You are very well aware of the arguments they have been advancing for the last 25 to 26 years. They are against our stand. We want self-determination for the people of Kashmir but they are against it. We want plebiscite, but they oppose it. The difference in the standpoints of the two countries on the Kashmir issue is known to the whole world.
Our struggle has been continuing for the last 25 years and we have been constantly endeavoring to solve the problem. But you must realize that struggle is not necessarily carried forward through war alone; it can be done without war. War is only the last resort. Movements can be built up with the help of diplomacy, politics and other methods.
Take the example of Africa where you will find that no war is on but all other methods arc being used to achieve liberation. So war is the last resort, the ultimate weapon. Political and other methods are tried first. The desired goals can certainly be achieved if correct methods are employed. There are instances when major objectives were achieved without resort to war. But that takes time. I can quote a number of instances when problems were resolved by the mutual consent of the parties and as a result the world situation underwent a change.
A similar situation obtains in the context of India. But the moment a move is made away from the beaten track, there is a flutter among the journalists and a spate of statements pours forth.
Did we get no opportunity earlier to settle this problem? We did. In fact, we lost many opportunities. I do not say we lost them deliberately. But if you look back on the course of negotiations and discussions on Kashmir, even before Partition, you would discover how these discussions were conducted, who fumbled and who avoided the pitfalls. After independence when the first war was fought, Kashmir emerged as a new issue which attracted world attention. It became an international issue. For us the Security Council was a new institution.
As you know, the Security Council adopted two resolutions. This was followed by the Geneva Conference which called upon both India and Pakistan to withdraw their armed forces personnel from the disputed territory, 21,000 square miles in the case of India and 7,000 in the case of Pakistan. Had both the sides agreed to this and to a plebiscite under the supervision of a UN representative, an agreement would have been reached. But then started the haggling over the number of personnel to be withdrawn, and the matter got bogged down.
Apart from this, the Government of Pakistan put too much faith in Britain, because we had gained independence from them. But how Britain treated us is now part of history. I do not want to say anything about those who are dead or have retired from politics. But you know when the United Nations was about to adopt an important resolution, Mr. Nehru approached Mr. Attlee, and as a result, Mr. Attlee changed his original stand and the resolution was amended. The British action was followed by a veto. Why was the right of veto exercised? Why couldn’t we prevent it? Because, as far as the UN Security Council was concerned, even the diluted resolution become meaningless after the veto. Why did our diplomacy fail so miserably to prevent the veto at that time?
We adopted a rigid position on the issue. We identified ourselves with some big powers and we isolated ourselves from others. On the other hand, India struck a balance. She enlisted support not only from the British but also from the other side. As I said earlier, Mr. Nehru, by having a last-minute meeting with Mr. Attlee, succeeded in getting the resolution altered by Britain which is a Western country. And then he got the resolution vetoed from the East. So, he secured support both from the East and the West. But we put all our eggs in one basket, that of the West. Even so we got no support from the West. We antagonized the East by repeatedly asserting that they are too far away from us, they are heathens, we cannot have any truck with them. The result was that they vetoed the resolution. Pakistan was hit from both sides whereas India benefited both from the East and the West. This much for the UN role and our diplomacy.
Now I turn to 1962 when India and China went to war. If there are officers of our armed forces present in this meeting they will bear me out that, at that time, almost the entire Indian army had withdrawn from Srinagar and the Valley to confront the Chinese forces. I would like to ask: Was there no Government in Pakistan at that time ? Was there no enthusiasm at that time? Was it a Government of heathens and not of Muslims? It was the Government of a strong man, a military regime and not a civilian Government. But when this grave crisis came, the President was nowhere to be found.
I was then acting as Foreign Minister of Pakistan in place of Mr. Mohammad Ali Boara who was ill. The American Ambassador brought a letter from President Kennedy and said he had to deliver it to the President of Pakistan immediately. I told him I did not know the whereabouts of the President. He said, “Are you joking?” I said, “Believe me, I do not know.”
Right at the time, a clash was taking place between India and China, and the whole world was in commotion, the President of Pakistan was sitting in Hunza and Gilgit. I came to know later that he had gone there to inaugurate some functions. There was no telephone connection in Hunza in those days. Probably he was watching the course of fighting with the help of binoculars, sitting in the mountains. When he returned after three or four days, he started bragging that had he been in the capital he would have done this or he would have done that. But by that time everything was over.
Then came the 1965 war. Why the ceasefire between the two countries was worked out at Tashkent? I was strongly against it. What would have been the situation had this war not stopped for another five or six days? You will recall how rapidly new developments were taking place. The American Secretary of State had stated that it had been their stand right from the start that the people of Kashmir should be given the right of self-determination. So, when the cessation of hostilities came about Mr. Shastri wept, not in sorrow but out of joy. He wept with joy at the ceasefire and died with happiness after signing the Tashkent Agreement. The point is why was India so happy? This is because the Pakistan Armed Forces, with the blessing of God, were probably making gains. But what can you do if opportunities are lost like that.
I was the one person who did not agree to a compromise at Tashkent. Later, when I took the reins of Government and went to Simla, I had no cards in my hands. There was a big difference in Pakistan’s position at Simla as compared to Tashkent. When we went to Tashkent, our position was very strong. Our Armed Forces had made tremendous advances and we had more Indian POWs in our hands than they had ours. Besides, there was an acute food shortage in India and nearly 19 million tons of wheat was supplied to her by the United States. While India was confronted with this acute food shortage, we had no such problem on our hands. India’s economy had been shattered while we did not face any such situation. In spite of all this, we signed at Tashkent an agreement in which there was no mention of either Kashmir or the right of self-determination.
But when I went to Simla, what did I have in my hands. Ninety thousand of our POWs were in Indian custody. India had captured East Pakistan. Five thousand square miles of our territory on this side had fallen to India. We had only 127 POWs of India in our custody. The entire area of Tharparker was under Indian occupation. The Indian forces had reached Mirpurkhas. The Shakargarh area was also under their control. East Pakistan had been separated. The country was without a constitution, and its governmental machinery and economy had gone out of gear. The nation was completely demoralized and shattered. It was in this situation that I went to Simla.
Four years have passed since the Simla Agreement. If there had been a secret deal, it should have been out by now. Who could have kept such a deal secret for four or five years? In any case, how could you expect that from an enemy? If there was anything in favour of the enemy, he would never have kept it a secret. What after all has remained secret about Egypt and Israel? There were some secret deals between them but now books have been written on them. President Sa’adat says he made this secret deal, but Israel says no, it was some other secret deal. And then Dr. Kissinger gives his own version of a secret deal. If in three months, every aspect of the secret deals between Israel and Egypt can become public, how could you expect the crafty Indians to have remained quiet for so long over a secret agreement. But our inept Opposition leaders cannot comprehend such a simple fact. Even though there is no basis, their mind is continually haunted by a secret deal in one form or the other. Let me tell you categorically that there was no secret agreement whatsoever. I have never entered into such a deal in the past nor shall I do so now. My office, my political career and in fact everything that goes with it, is of no consequence to me when I face that choice. I will never debase myself, come what may. My whole political life is before you.
It is true that sometimes secret understandings are reached but only on minor matters. For instance, you can ask people to keep mum till a Minister is changed, an Ambassador is sent out, or a trade agreement is signed. These are regarded as confidential matters. But secret deals are different. A deal is secret when you are surrendering your rights to others. But 1 do not believe in this. I have never believed in a secret deal over rights nor shall 1 do so in future. I know that such deals can never be kept secret, because they affect the lives, the future and the destiny of people.
We went to Simla with no bargaining strength. Of course, the grace of Allah and your prayers were with me. I had no tricks, no sorcery, no magic to fall back upon.
Now about the statement made by Mr. Aziz Ahmad at Izmir. Hardly had I arrived back when everybody confronted me with it and expressed surprise and shock over it. I asked what is so upsetting about it. I had also addressed a Press Conference at Izmir on the 24th April. Somebody asked me a question about Kashmir and I said the right of self-determination was our cardinal principle. We are ready to talk on that basis. We are not afraid of talks. We do not avoid them. But there can be no compromise on this issue. This is what I said there. But ever since my arrival in Muzffarabad yesterday, I am being questioned by all and sundry on this statement of Aziz Ahmad. So, this morning I asked for a copy of his statement to see what exactly he had said.
May be what Mr. Aziz Ahmad said at Izmir on the 21st April, was a non-political statement. After all, he is our Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence. We all respect him very much. The poor fellow was a Government servant in the past. He has entered politics only recently. So, he played a little diplomacy. But what about us. All of us who are sitting here are politicians, plain rustic folk. We do not know the tricks of diplomacy. We do not mince words. We are blunt. But, you know, these intellectuals hedge about, play for time. This is what this poor gentleman has done, indulged in a little bit of “laralappa”.
Now it is up to you whether you call it diplomacy or just playing with words. Should I take it, Mr. Khurshid that you are unhappy over what Mr. Aziz Ahmad has said. These things do not make a difference. Such statements are a passing phenomenon. They don’t compromise our position. I want to, assure you that by the grace of God, the real problem will be solved. This is the verdict of history, and of justice. And in the meantime if there are wordy whirls, you should not feel perturbed. Everybody is doing his job. Everybody is making his contribution towards this effort. There may be a little slip of tongue here or there but you should see the intentions, the objective, the record and the struggle. You should bear in mind the chain of events from Tashkent to Simla. If you do all that, you would know the real import of what Mr. Aziz Ahmad has said. It’s all right if we say we are not in a hurry. We will bide for time, wait with patience. We will respond when they are ready. So, you have worked yourselves up unnecessarily. There was even an adjournment motion. What is all this pother about. Let me tell you there is nothing to worry about.
Now about your demand for representation in Parliament. During my previous tour, I had told you in all sincerity that we would do something if this was your unanimous decision. You had assured me that this would neither affect Pakistan’s stand nor harm the Kashmir issue. I had then acceded to your demand but then our dirty politics came in. Now, please, do not put up your demand to me. First settle it among yourselves. On my part I will not touch this issue because it is not the time for me to do so. You settle it among yourselves and if you are unanimous in your views, then you make your own efforts. I know your demand has weight, but I will neither touch nor raise this issue on my own. If you want to press your demand, then you should take it up, not with me alone but also with others. We live in a democracy. We can discuss it in a round table conference where they and we all sit together and discuss it. I can say no more.