Provisional Government of Jammu and Kashmir
Dr Shabir Choudhry 10 October 2012
As expected I had some positive and some negative response for my article, ‘Issues related to Provisional Government of 4th October 1947’. Some people highly appreciated it and some disgruntled elements activated by forces of occupation and tribalism, like in the past, made personal attacks without providing any logical or historical facts to support their view point. However, some sensible people put forward their view point in support of the Provisional Government; and my reply is aimed at these people and not those who have malicious agenda of abusing and accusing others.
Also I want to point out that I am not against the Provisional Government because it was declared by a Qadiani – I have always opposed regionalism and sectarianism. My opposition is because it was not legal or constituted with welfare people of Jammu and Kashmir in mind; and later on it only created problems for people of the State.
Those who support 4th October Provisional Government rest their case on three points:
- It was representative
- It was legal;
- Azad Kashmir Army
Was the Provisional Government ‘Representative’?
Unless they have different meaning of ‘legal’ and ‘representative’ than other people, there are no legal or historical facts which can support their contention. As far as 4th October Declaration is concerned, I do not deny about its existence. Furthermore, I agree on its contents as published in the paper. However, I challenge intentions of those who declared this Provisional Government and its legal and representative character.
When this Provisional Government was announced all leading leaders of the Muslim Conference (Pro Pakistan Kashmiri party and Ghulam Nabi Gilkar belonged to this party) were present in Rawalpindi, which included senior leaders like Acting President Chaudhry Hameedullah Khan, Sardar Ibrahim Khan, Mirwaiz Mohammed Yousaf Shah, Professor Mohammed Ishaque Qureshi, Syed Nazir Hussain and Maulana Ghulam Haider Janadalvi, question is why these senior leaders were not taken in to confidence. The biggest party of Jammu and Kashmir, National Conference and its undisputed leader Sheikh Abdullah and his senior colleagues were also not taken in confidence.
No one from Ladakh, Jammu, Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan was consulted on the issues of setting up of this ‘Provisional Government’. In reality this ‘Government’ was not even representative of the Muslim Conference, and one can only laugh at the claim that it was a ‘representative government’ of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. 1
Reality is that, a meeting was held in Lahore on 02 October 1947 at a residence of Mirza Bashir Ul Ahmad (Head of Qadiani Sect), in which, apart from Ghulam Nabi Gilkar few local Kashmiris were also present. It was in this meeting a decision was taken to set up a Provisional Government. 2. This story is also confirmed by another writer Zahir – Ud Din, who wrote: ‘…When the Government of India ousted Nawab of Junagarh, the Government of Pakistan approached Mirza Bashir ud Din Ahmad of Qadiyan and authorised him to take appropriate measures with regard to Kashmir. Mirza called Gilkar to Lahore...’3
The news of the Provisional Government was first broadcasted by Radio of Pakistan on 4th October; and published by many newspapers on 5 October. However, people generally make reference to the news published in ‘Civil and Military Gazette’ on 8th October 1947. Without influence and contacts of Mirza Bashir Ud Din Ahmed, there was no way Ghulam Nabi Gilkar or his ‘Cabinet members’ could have got this news broadcasted in Radio Pakistan or got it published in prestigious paper, Civil and Military Gazette. 4
Famous Kashmiri historian Justice Yusuf Saraf, who after doing extensive research on Modern history of Jammu and Kashmir wrote two volumes consisting of more than 1400 pages, comments on this ‘historic event’. Yusuf Saraf confirms that in response to a ‘Provisional Government’ of Junagarh set up on 1st of October with Samal Das Gandhi as the President, a meeting was convened by Mirza Bashir Ud Din in Lahore on 2nd October. It was in this meeting it was decided to set up a ‘Provisional Government of Jammu and Kashmir with Ghulam Nabi Gilkar as the President. 5
Justice Saraf, while commenting on the Rawalpindi meeting held in Paris Hotel asserted: ‘There is no evidence to support the further claim that the proclamation was discussed and debated at Rawalpindi in a restricted meeting attended also by Syed Nazir Hussain Shah Advocate who disclaims any such meeting ever taking place (to decide the Provisional Government). Even if a decision to appoint Mr Gilkar, well known in the State for his courageous and leading role in 1931 Movement, as Head was taken in Lahore meeting, it seems clear that he kept it to himself when he came to Rawalpindi and did not inform Syed Nazir Hussain Shah, Maulana Ghulam Haider Janadalvi or others about it, perhaps because of awareness that it would not be acceptable not only because he was an Ahmedi but also because a few municipal level workers had no business to take such a vital decision and expect to bind the High Command. 6
Justice Yusuf Saraf, while supporting the idea of the ‘Provisional Government’ said, ‘one cannot approve the fact of its having been taken at such a municipal and limited level, even without the knowledge of the Party’s top brass, some of whom like (Acting President) Chaudhry Hameedullah Khan, Sardar Ibrahim Khan, Mirwaiz Mohammed Yousaf Shah, Professor Mohammed Ishaque Qureshi, Syed Nazir Hussain and Maulana Ghulam Haider Janadalvi were already in Rawalpindi. The conclusion to be drawn is that individuals who were collected at Lahore had no right to take such an all important and far reaching decision though there is no evidence that they had any designs or ulterior motive. 7
The above evidence clearly exposes this myth that the ‘Provisional Government’ was representative; and that the decision was taken by senior leaders. Justice Yusuf Saraf calls them Municipal level workers. However, if it was a real ‘Government’ and ‘representative’ too, and Mr Gilkar was a ‘President’ of a real government, then why would he go to an area (Srinagar) still controlled by the man (Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir) whom he ‘deposed’, although without any powers or legal authority? Ghulam Nabi Gilkar on instructions of his religious guru or leader declared the ‘Provisional Government’, but both Mr Gilkar and Mirza Bashir Ud Din Ahmed knew that they could not make any progress without active support of most popular Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah. Ghulam Nabi Gilkar came to meet Sheikh Abdullah and had three hours long meeting with him to gain his support.
It is believed that Ghulam Nabi Gilkar was arrested on a tip off by Sunni political activists who thought it was a planning of the Qadiyanis to set up their government in Jammu and Kashmir. So ‘President’ of this Provisional Government’ remained in prison and was released in January 1949 in exchange for the release of Brigadier Gansara Singh, last Governor of Gilgit Baltistan, who was in the Pakistani custody. It must be noted that with help of the UN both India and Pakistan declared a cease – fire on 1 January 1949. 8
It is pertinent to point out that once the Provisional Government got importance, apart from Ghulam Nabi Gilkar two more people claimed that they used the fake name of ‘Anwar’ to announce the Provisional Government. The other two names were, Major Khurshid Anwar who led the Tribal Invasion; and the other person was Syed Anwar Shah of Hill Sarang. However, it is widely agreed that it was Ghulam Nabi Gilkar who used the fake name of Anwar and declared the Provisional Government. Prem Nath Bazaz and Qadianis official publication, Tarikh e Ahmediat, also confirms that Anwar was Ghulam Nabi Gilkar. 9
Was it legal?
Supporters of the ‘Provisional Government’ rest their case on this erroneous understanding that after the lapse of Paramountcy the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir’s right to rule his country also ended. This is not true. He was a recognised Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir; and there was no time limit on his rule. This legal position or fact is confirmed by even Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan. As there was some confusion in minds of some people over the principle of Two Nations Theory, whether it was applicable to the Princely States or not, some Kashmiris asked Mohammed Ali Jinnah about it. In a question to legal position of Princely States, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who was also a constitutional expert asserted:
“Constitutionally and legally, the Indian States will be independent sovereign states on the termination of Paramountcy and they will be free to decide for themselves to adopt any course they like. It is open to them to join the Hindustan Constituent Assembly, the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, or decide to remain independent. In the last case, they enter into such arrangements or relationship with Hindustan or Pakistan as they may choose.” 10
Apart from that the last Governor General of undivided India and Crown Representative Lord Mountbatten in his speech to Rulers of Princely States asserted: ‘Now, the Indian Independence Act releases the States from all their obligations to the Crown. The States will have complete freedom, technically and legally they become independent...’ 11
After clear verdict of these two experts and statesmen there is no need of any more reference to prove that the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir’s right to rule his State did not end after end of the British Raj; and views of some individuals with no legal or administrative standing is of no consequence.
However, I want to add that if the ‘Provisional Government’ was ‘legal’, as claimed by some people, then obviously the government of the Maharaja Hari Singh was not legal because there could not be two legal governments in one country. Supporters of the Provisional Government claim that Ghulam Nabi Gilkar ‘deposed’ the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir; but they don’t explain that what authority he had to ‘depose’ a legal government which was recognised by the British, India and Pakistan, as they all interacted with him. Which institution or law (apart from order of his religious leader Mirza Bashir Ud Din Ahmed) authorised him to ‘depose’ the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir with whom Governments of India and Pakistan officially interacted even after the partition of India. Government of Pakistan officially exchanged telegrams on various issues with the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir up till 19th October 1947; and on 22 October 1947 they despatched tribesmen and other warriors to punish the Maharaja for not acceding to Pakistan.
What this proves is that even ‘mentors’ of this ‘Provisional Government’ regarded Government of Jammu and Kashmir headed by the Maharajah Hari Singh as legal. So in view of the above compelling evidence, what is the legal standing of the Provisional Government declared by Ghulam Nabi Gilkar? It proves that even his ‘mentors’ did not agree that Ghulam Nabi had ‘deposed’ the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir.
After proving that the ‘Provisional Government’ was not ‘legal’ or ‘representative’; I want to add that this Provisional Government and its subsequent reorganisation coupled with other events supported by the same powers resulted in division of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It is sad that instead of Kashmiri nationalists understanding those factors that led to forced division of our country they are not even prepared to come out of the propaganda spread by the forces of occupation.
They forget that the Pakistani Rulers did not question the Maharaja’s right to rule his State after the end the British Raj, as they hoped he would accede to Pakistan. However, when they realised that he might not accede to Pakistan, they started other measures to force him to join Pakistan, for example, insurgency in Poonch, Provisional Government and its reorganisation, blockage of essential supplies which Pakistan was obliged to supply under terms of the Standstill Agreement and the Tribal Invasion.
However, on behest of Pakistan on 24 October 1947, Provisional Government was reorganised by Commissioner Rawalpindi, Khawaja Abdul Rahim and Sardar Ibrahim was appointed President of Azad Kashmir Government. At that time Muslim Conference President Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas was in jail and Chaudhry Hameedullah Khan was Acting President of Muslim Conference and fully active. He was in Rawalpindi at that time. Question arises, why he was not appointed President of Azad Kashmir Government and why Sardar Ibrahim Khan was appointed President even though he only joined the Muslim Conference about a year ago.
While reorganising the Provisional Government, the Pakistani authorities did not consult Muslim Conference Acting President Chaudhary Hameedullah Khan or other senior leaders. He was clearly unhappy about this, as he was not appointed President and not even consulted. But Chaudhry Hameedullah Khan should know that the Pakistani authorities wanted a puppet who would advance a Pakistani agenda on Kashmir; whereas he had already expressed his desire to have an independent Jammu and Kashmir with the Maharaja as a constitutional Head. With that kind of thinking he could not have been the choice for the Pakistani authorities.
Azad Kashmir Army
Too much importance is given to Azad Kashmir Army- army which did not exist on 4th October 1947, at the time of Declaration of the Provisional government. Of course, there were thousands of former soldiers who served the British during the Second World War; and they were angry about the economic and political situation in their homeland and suffering of the people. I agree there was a strong resentment and struggle against very excessive taxes and maladministration in various parts of Poonch. People were up in arms against the Government; however, it was not a struggle to overthrow the Maharajah by force and get independence. At best, one can call it a ‘rights movement’ which turned violent because of the oppression of the authorities; and the Pakistani authorities exploited that situation and presented it as a rebellion of the people against the Jammu and Kashmir Government.
Some people claim that before the Tribal Invasion was launched by Pakistan on 22 October 1947, Azad Kashmir was ‘liberated’ and the Azad Kashmir Army was in control of most of the area now known as Azad Kashmir, and was planning to march towards Srinagar. I don’t know whether to laugh at this claim or just ignore it. Up till the Tribal Invasion on 22 October 1947, the Maharajah was in control of his territory; and only small pockets of Poonch district were not completely in his control.
Rawalakot is the main city of the Poonch district, and Justice Yusuf Saraf who did extensive research notes the situation of Rawalakot in the following words: ‘Upto 18th October (1947) there was no engagement as both sides were preparing for an showdown. On the 18th, a batch of Dogra soldiers attacked village Trar in the vicinity of the town and burnt down crops, fodder, houses as well as house hold goods….On 21st October another batch of Dogra soldiers attacked village Barmung and indulged in arson and loot….On 25th October at 4am, a sizeable Dogra force again attacked Trar and tried to molest women and manhandle the old and the infirm. Under the pressure from the freedom fighters, they were again compelled to retreat. Between 26th and the 30th October, there raged an almost continuing battle in the centre of the town resulting in considerable loss to both sides. On 31st, the Dogras received fresh reinforcement from Poonch. On 4th November (1947), the freedom fighters went quite close to the Dogra trenches and launched attack, but were repulsed with considerable losses. On 6th November, Muslims made another determined attack on the town, inflicting considerable losses. 12
This detailed account of fighting in Rawalakot clearly shows that up till 6th of November 1947, main city of Poonch district was still in control of the Maharaja. Similarly, towns of Mirpur, Bhimber, Kotli, Muzaffarabad etc were still in hands of the Maharajah before the Tribal attack. Important point is that no where Justice Saraf used the name of Azad Kashmir Army, because at that time it did not exist. That clearly shows that supporters of the Provisional Government who claim of the Azad Kashmir Army and its victories either before 4th October 1947 or before the Tribal attack on 22 October, are either totally naive and unaware of the historical facts or they are simply lying to advance the agenda of forces of occupation.
City of Muzaffarabad had its own importance, and it was in total control of the Maharajah up till the Tribal attack. Maharaja’s army had four companies posted to guard the city. ‘A Company’ was posted at Kohala, ‘B Company’ was posted at Barsala on the main road to the city, ‘C Company’ was posted at Barkot and ‘D Company’ was posted at Lohar – Gali. This shows that Muzaffarabad city was still in hands of the Maharaja, so no question of Azad Kashmir Army (which did not exist) marching towards Srinagar.
It is clear that Pakistani authorities were behind this ‘rebellion’ and Major General Akbar Khan was appointed a Commander of this operation. He produced a Military Plan for the Pakistani government known as ‘Armed Revolt Inside Kashmir’. As the name suggests, the Pakistani plan was that the Kashmiri rebellion should look like a ‘revolt’ of the people of Jammu and Kashmir against its (non-Muslim) Ruler. Major General Akbar Khan asserted:
‘As open interference or aggression by Pakistan was obviously undesirable, it was proposed that our efforts should be concentrated upon strengthening the Kashmiris themselves internally – and at the same time taking steps to prevent of arrival of armed civilians or military assistance from India into Kashmir.’ 13
Anyhow, while discussing the preparation of the military operations in Jammu and Kashmir Justice Yusuf Saraf said: ‘Mr Kiani started his work in right earnest on 13th September (1947); by 23rd September, all Sector Headquarters as well as the Main Headquarters started functioning. The main Headquarter was set up at Gujrat (in Pakistan) whereas Sector Headquarters were at Rawalpindi and Sialkot (in Pakistan) to start with, and a little later, at Jhelum (in Pakistan) for the districts of Poonch, Jammu and Mirpur, respectively. 14
On 1 January 1948, government of India approached the Security Council for help on Kashmir dispute. As Pakistan was also a party to the dispute, they had to formulate policies in line with the international requirements. When the Maharaja, under compulsion of the tribal attack decided to accede to India, which was provisionally accepted, Pakistani authorities propagated that the Maharaja had no right to decide future of his State, as his right to rule his country ended after end of the British Raj. Also that he was deposed by Ghulam Nabi Gilkar, President of the Provisional Government.
I have exposed the myth of the Provisional Government. I have explained with undeniable evidence that it was not legal; and that it was not representative. Anyhow, if the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir had joined Pakistan, instead of India, then despite that ‘deposition’, his decision about future of Jammu and Kashmir, in eyes of the Pakistani rulers would have been legal.
Similarly, at the time of declaration of the ‘Provisional Government’ there was no such thing as Azad Kashmir Army. However, when the Kashmir dispute was internationalised, Pakistan felt it necessary to set up Azad Kashmir Army to satisfy the international community that they had no role in the Kashmiri ‘uprising’ or military operations in Jammu and Kashmir territory
In view of this strong evidence, if some people of Jammu and Kashmir still want to live in fantasy world, and claim that 4th October Declaration was legal and representative; and the Azad Kashmir Army existed before the Tribal attack, then no historian or writer can help them. I can only pray for them.
- Azad Kashmir – Eik Siasi Jaiza – 1947 to 1975, by Mirza Shafeeq Hussain, page 114
- Ibid, page 114
- ‘Ghulam Nabi Gilkar and Kashmir Freedom Movement’, by Zahir-ud-Din, KashmirWatch.com, Oct. 8, 2009
- Azad Kashmir – Eik Siasi Jaiza, page 113
- Justice Yusuf Saraf, Kashmiris Fight Freedom, page 1286
- Ibid, Page 1287
- Ibid page 1287
- ‘Ghulam Nabi Gilkar and Kashmir Freedom Movement’
- Tarikh e Ahmediat, Vol V1, page 655
- Mohammed Ali Jinnah said this while talking to some Kashmiri leaders on 17th June 1947.
- Crown Representative Lord Louis Mountbatten’s Address to a special Full Meeting of the Chamber of Princes on July 25, 1947
- Justice Saraf, page 869
- Raiders in Kashmir, Major General Akbar Khan, page 14
- Justice Saraf, page 884
Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.Email: