FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Kashmir Evoked a Lot More International Attention in the 1950s Than It Does Now

by

Despite the diatribe, “quiet diplomacy,” negotiations, has the political landscape of Kashmir, the nuclear flashpoint in South Asia, changed at all since 1953? How seriously do the Governments of India and Pakistan take current regional political actors, state and non-state, in Kashmir? So, I thought I’d revisit a long forgotten chapter of history, which, at the time, garnered tremendous international attention and condemnation of the arrogance of nation-states.

The irony of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the first Muslim Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir in post-Partition India, an “Indian Muslim,” being put behind bars for voicing and advocating the right of self-determination “by the very Indians who won admiration and sympathy in the world in attaining their own” (Extracts from Commentary by Edward R. Murrow, 1 May 1958), wasn’t lost on the world community.

The rearrest of the Sheikh created a constituency for his and his spouse Akbar Jehan’s politics in those parts of the world that had lent moral support to India’s glorious struggle for freedom in 1947. An acclaimed American commentator profoundly noted, “It is ironic that the Lion of Kashmir who fought so long for freedom has been jailed again by a freedom-loving state. The Lion exemplifies the spirit of Thoreau, who said, ‘I was not born to be forced.’ And Norman Corwin once wrote, ‘Freedom isn’t something to be won and then forgotten. It must be renewed like soil after yielding good crops’” (Murrow, in broadcast over CBS Radio Network, May 1, 1958).

Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s release in January 1958, after an ignoble incarceration of four and a half years, was welcomed by the populace of Kashmir with an unbounded ebullience, which was marvelously delineated in the Time, January 20, 1958:

At week’s end Sheikh Abdullah, wearing a long black funeral-black achkan over loose white pajamas, held on to the windshield of his jeep and waved to crowds lining the road and jamming the towns along the way as he rode to the capital at the head of a 30-car caravan. Srinagar welcomed him with a frightening din. When the Sheikh appeared on the balcony of a Moslem shrine, people prostrated themselves in a heap below, crying vows that they would lay down their lives for him.

On April 22, 1958, the Special Correspondent of The Times of London wrote:

. . ., one’s impression on returning to the valley of Kashmir for the first time since Sheikh Abdullah was released is that he is still a power to be reckoned with. Alone, his principal colleagues and supporters all in gaol [sic], his every movement under police observation, his very presence is enough to deprive the present Kashmir Government of all peace of mind. Yet one cannot imprison a man indefinitely because he is admired and loved; nor presumably maintain in office a Government if it is unable to make itself either.

Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had been arrested for “his political leaning which runs counter to the Government of India in Kashmir. . . . Sheikh Abdullah was never known for resorting to or even calling for violence; all that he had called for was that the people of Kashmir should be given their just right and that they should not be oppressed” (Al-Zaman, May 7, 1958). Perhaps Nehru had forgotten his categorization of political arrests as criminal, which buttressed the conviction of those struggling for their political freedom.

Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah did not desist from trying to find a solution to the Kashmir conflict which would be in accordance with “the freedom struggle of Kashmir and the independence movement of the Indian people” (Abdullah, “The Kashmiri Viewpoint,” 41). He sought to find a practical solution to the deadlock that would enable preservation of peace in the Indian subcontinent, while maintaining the honor of everyone concerned.

Nyla Ali Khan is the author of Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir, The Life of a Kashmiri Woman, and the editor of The Parchment of Kashmir. Nyla Ali Khan has also served as an guest editor working on articles from the Jammu and Kashmir region for Oxford University Press (New York), helping to identify, commission, and review articles. She can be reached at nylakhan@aol.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 27, 2017
Darlene Dubuisson – Mark Schuller
“You Live Under Fear”: 50,000 Haitian People at Risk of Deportation
Karl Grossman
The Crash of Cassini and the Nuclearization of Space
Robert Hunziker
Venezuela Ablaze
John W. Whitehead
Trump’s America is a Constitution-Free Zone
Ron Jacobs
One Hundred Years That Shook the World
Judith Deutsch
Convenient Untruths About “Human Nature:” Can People Deal with Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons?
Don Fitz
Is Pope Francis the World’s Most Powerful Advocate for Climate Stability?
Thomas Mountain
Africa’s War Lord Queen: The Bloodstained Career of Liberia’s Eleanor Sirleaf Johnson
Binoy Kampmark
Short Choices: the French Presidential Elections
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Monetizing My Mouth
Michael Barker
Of Union Dreams and Nightmares: Cesar Chavez and Why Funding Matters
Elier Ramirez Cañedo
“Let Venezuela give me a way of serving her, she has in me a son.”
Paul Mobbs
Cellphones, WIFI and Cancer: Will Trump’s Budget Cuts Kill ‘Electrosmog’ Research?
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
The Closing of Rikers: a Survival Strategy of the Carceral State
April 26, 2017
Richard Moser
Empire Abroad, Empire At Home
Stan Cox
For Climate Justice, It’s the 33 Percent Who’ll Have to Pick Up the Tab
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Machine Called Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
The Dilemma for Intelligence Agencies
Christy Rodgers
Remaining Animal
Joseph Natoli
Facts, Opinions, Tweets, Words
Mel Gurtov
No Exit? The NY Times and North Korea
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Women on the Move: Can Three Women and a Truck Quell the Tide of Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse?
Michael J. Sainato
Trump’s Wikileaks Flip-Flop
Manuel E. Yepe
North Korea’s Antidote to the US
Kim C. Domenico
‘Courting Failure:’ the Key to Resistance is Ending Animacide
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Legacy of Lynne Stewart, the People’s Lawyer
Andrew Stewart
The People vs. Bernie Sanders
Daniel Warner
“Vive La France, Vive La République” vs. “God Bless America”
April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obamacare
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East Side: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
Binoy Kampmark
Mike Pence in Oz
Peter Paul Catterall
Green Nationalism? How the Far Right Could Learn to Love the Environment
George Wuerthner
Range Riders: Making Tom Sawyer Proud
Clancy Sigal
It’s the Pits: the Miner’s Blues
Robert K. Tan
Abe is Taking Japan Back to the Bad Old Fascism
April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail