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Sunday, June 22, 2003
Books

A logical account of J&K war
Rajendra Nath

Jammu & Kashmir War (1947-48): Political and Military Perspective
by Maj Gen Kuldip Singh Bajwa (retd). Har Anand Publications, New Delhi. Pages 327. Rs 490.

Jammu & Kashmir War (1947-48): Political and Military PerspectiveTHE book under review deals with the 1947-48 Indo-Pak war covering both the military and political aspects. The author has consulted books and documents, made available recently, to produce a logical account of the first war fought by India after Independence. The after-effects of this war continue to pose serious security problems for India in Jammu and Kashmir, even though we have fought two more wars, in 1965 and 1971, with Pakistan. The book brings out clearly the intrigues of the senior British officers serving in India and Pakistan during 1947-48 who combined to ensure that India could not expel the Pakistan forces from Jammu and Kashmir, which had occupied one-third of the state. "In the final analysis, it was unequal equation between a naive and inexperienced Indian leadership and the wily British who know what their national objectives were," remarks the author.

The Indian Empire had been the focal point of the British imperial policy in the Indian Ocean. Till August 15, 1947, geo-strategic concepts were essentially those that served the British interests. After Independence, India should have evolved its own course to pursue the policy that suited her and not England. This was possible only if the Indian leaders, both political and military, were at the helm of the affairs in the country. But for the reasons not clear, they decided to have Admiral Mountbatten as its first Governor General, and at his advice kept the British officers as the three service chiefs to run the Indian Army, the Air Force and the Navy. So our leaders chose to make the Indian policy formulation hostage to the British manipulation. The invasion of Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani raiders, backed by the Pakistani army, came as a great surprise to the Indian leaders who gave the impression that they did not quite know how to handle the war, while the senior Indian military leaders were kept out of the picture being labelled as inexperienced by the British. Thus, the British officers looked after the interests of the British Empire. The author is right when he remarks that the Indian leadership forgot the lessons of history relating to the British conquest of India through chicanery and deceit.

 


The British policy makers had clearly come to the conclusion that West Pakistan would best serve their future strategic interests in the Middle East and Asia. An essential part of these geo-strategic interests in the region was to gain an assured access for Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir, which was feasible only if it came under undisputed control of Pakistan. That is why Mountbatten wanted Jammu and Kashmir to accede to Pakistan, but the Maharaja of the state acceded to India when the Pakistani raiders had actually captured Baramula. According to the author, "detailed examination of the role played by the British would leave little doubt that they created the Kashmir dispute."

He further states that the British Government and the British officers retained in India and Pakistan had played a significant role to restrain India from any decisive military action, and to help Pakistan retain its illegal territorial gains. He proves his point by quoting the relevant actions of Mountbatten and the British Commander-in-Chief in India during the actual operations in the 1947-48 war. It is the contention of the author after studying the declassified records in the UK that the leakage of Indian state secrets to London and details of anti-state actions taken by the British participants were nothing short of acts of betrayal. However, the author should have preferably given references at the end of various chapters rather than mentioning names of the books at the end.

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, MC, who has written the foreword states, "Not only does the book clearly and truthfully portray the fighting, but also the machinations of the British Commanders-in-Chief of both India and Pakistan, prior to and during the whole period of the conflict. At no time did either Commander-in-Chief not know the plan and action of the contestants; they were in constant and continuous touch with other on the telephone. It would be unbelievable to think that General Gracey, the British Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan, was not aware that Pathan tribesmen had been sent into the Kashmir valley prior to the accession of the state to India; in fact it would be correct to state that the tribesmen were sent at his suggestion and concurrence." And the Field Marshal should know, for he was at that time serving as a senior officer in the Military Operations Directorate at Army Headquarters, New Delhi, under General Sir Roy

Bucher, Commander-in-Chief, Indian Army. The directorate deals with the operations in which the Indian Army takes part.

The book describes the war in a thoughtful manner starting from the tribal invasion on October 22, 1947, to the ceasefire on December 31, 1948, which was at Pakistanís request, as the Indian Army was on the winning spree. This well-researched book should be a good addition to any library.