Dixon Plan: Moves afoot to divide Jammu on communal lines
by Rustam on 20 Jun 2010 3 Comments

On June 9, a very significant political development took place. That day, Jammu witnessed the emergence of a new forum – Forum Against Dixon Plan (FADP). It was founded by four persons who hailed from the BJP, Congress, Panun Kashmir and Jammu State Morcha (Progressive), under the convener-ship of Bali Bhagat, BJP state vice-president and former MLA from Ramban.


Explaining the provocation for setting up the FADP, the founders told media persons, “A sinister process seems to have been set into motion to divide Jammu Province along the Chenab River on communal lines and facilitate the emergence of Greater Kashmir, comprising the Valley and Muslim-majority areas of Jammu and Ladakh.” They justified their apprehension by referring to the adoption of a highly controversial resolution on the “Chenab Valley Autonomous Hill Council” in Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council, without opposition from any political party, last year. They referred to other “administrative measures taken by the state government in recent times” which, they feared, were all designed to facilitate implementation of the 1950 Sir Owen Dixon Plan.


FADP accused “a significant section of the top echelons of the Indian political class, cutting across party lines,” of “toying with the idea of a compromise with Pakistan to accommodate its sinister designs on Jammu and Kashmir.” The upshot of their argument was that the “original Dixon Plan is being variously disguised as Musharraf Formula, Kathwari Plan, Greater Autonomy or Self-rule” and that the “National Conference and the PDP have been making regular forays into various areas of Jammu province to polarize communal opinion in favour of Greater Kashmir.”


The opposition to the Dixon Plan rests on the fact that the “entire process has a bearing on the very survival of minorities across the length and breadth of the state.” “The authority of the Government of India in the State and its commitment to protect secular imperatives stands undermined as never before since independence. The situation is even worse than the era when the British Rulers embarked upon carving out Pakistan in the Muslim majority areas of undivided India”, they add.


FADP founders say “there is a large corpus of opinion in these areas which still believes that the Government of India and the political class will never indulge in such treachery” and warn that “it is a situation similar to when the people living in Lahore before the partition believed in the assurances of Gandhi and Nehru that partition of the country shall never become a reality”. They exhort this section to review the situation and adopt an approach that could defeat those thinking in terms of dividing Jammu along River Chenab, setting up Greater Kashmir, and compromising the Indian position in Jammu & Kashmir by accommodating the evil designs of Pakistan in this part of the country.


They warn that the “holocaust that followed the country’s partition is bound to replicate (here in Jammu province) given the fact that religious cleansing in Kashmir valley has not shaken the reckless Indian Political class”. “In this situation, all right thinking people, particularly in Jammu Province, have a greater responsibility to stop another partition and prevent the impending holocaust”.


The basic objective behind formation of the FADP is, “it is an attempt at rescuing the threatened minorities and to defend the unity and integrity of Jammu Province, cutting across all religious and political loyalties and affiliations”. “The objective of FADP is neither regional nor local, but essentially national. It is to prevent the balkanization of the nation”.


FADP’s June 9 statement reflects legitimate apprehensions and fears, as can be seen from just five instances. One, it is no secret that the BJP had decided to give extraordinary concessions to Islamabad and give legitimacy to the politics of communalism and separatism in Kashmir by giving maximum possible autonomy to Kashmir and its adjoining areas as early as March 1999. BJP agreed to accept Pakistan’s anti-India suggestions in March 1999, when Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz met at Colombo to discuss ways and means to resolve the so-called Kashmir issue, diffuse the potential danger in South Asia, and harmonize India-Pakistan relations.


The meeting between the two resulted in an agreement which was to be implemented over a span of four/five years. The agreement, inter alia, suggested “plebiscite” in Jammu and Kashmir on regional/district basis, division of Jammu province along Chenab River on communal lines, “maximum possible autonomy to Kashmir and its adjoining areas” and “annexation” of the remaining areas of Jammu province and Ladakh region by India.


Singh and Aziz were to meet again after a month to give concrete shape to this agreement, but it was thwarted by the Kargil invasion of 1999. Later, the BJP-led NDA Government fell in 2004. Had the people of India voted the BJP-led NDA to power at the Centre, New Delhi would have surely implemented the Colombo Agreement.


Two, is no secret that on May 2, 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told media persons that he and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had virtually reached an agreement over Kashmir – “a non-territorial solution” – but couldn’t give it practical shape because certain domestic developments in Pakistan had tied the Pakistani President’s hands. One such development, according to the Prime Minister, was the unending personal feud between the Pakistani President and Pakistani Chief Justice, whom the former had sacked. Dr Manmohan Singh made public what had transpired between the Indian back channels and Indian Foreign Office and Pakistani back channels and Foreign Office, and Jammu and Kashmir, during the crucial 15th general elections.


What the Indian Prime Minister told reporters was exactly what Pervez Musharraf had claimed repeatedly since the spring of 2007, which attracted much media attention across the world. He did not get ample coverage in India. Why? A riddle.


What, according to Musharraf, was the agreement reached between Islamabad and New Delhi? Musharraf told reporters everywhere that, “I came out with a broad outline” which included “gradual demilitarization of the Line of Control and Kashmiri cities; maximum self-governance on both sides of the Line of Control; a joint governing mechanism for Kashmir, to include Pakistanis, Indians, and local Kashmiri leaders; and, most important, a porous Line of Control… I wanted to make the Line of Control irrelevant, to open it on six to eight places and let trade flourish… That way Pakistan could say the line was finished and India could say it still existed…”


Musharraf told media persons everywhere that, “he hoped to implement this framework ‘for 15 years’. And then (both sides could) revisit it and see how to move forward…The Line of Control would become almost irrelevant after 15 years… We (Musharraf and Manmohan Singh) were close… I only wish the two governments would start again. The leaders needed to be open-minded and bold… I thought we had to have peace for the sake of the entire region, and for India and Pakistan… We could reap a lot of economic advantages… (I) authorized secret ‘back channel’ talks by special envoys in hotel rooms in Bangkok, Dubai and London from 2004 to 2007. The talks got little attention in the US media until a detailed article by South Asia expert Steve Coll in the New Yorker in March 2009… The envoys worked on a framework for resolving three major boundary disputes. The first two – over the 20,000-foot Siachen glacier and the Sir Creek waterway between India and Pakistan – could be solved tomorrow… As for Kashmir, (he) devised a compromise for a seemingly intractable problem…” The compromise was what our Prime Minister and Pervez Musharraf hinted at in May 2005 and 2007, respectively, and what Jaswant Singh and Sartaj Aziz had worked out at Colombo in March 1999.


Three, on April 24, 2010 Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, who was Pakistan’s Foreign Minister between 2002 and 2007, told The Times of India in Lahore that “had not the anti-Musharraf upsurge triggered by the sacking of the chief justice convulsed Pakistan,” the “deal that was cobbled together through secret parleys held in India, Pakistan and several foreign capitals for more than three years,” would have been given as effect to – a deal that “could have resolved the sub-continent’s thorniest security and political dispute.” Kasuri also said, “he has never spoken of this Track-II success earlier, other than saying that he knew of a possible way to resolve the Kashmir problem that was acceptable to both countries.”


What exactly did Kasuri reveal regarding the solution worked out by India and Pakistan? According to The Times of India, he said: “Negotiators from Islamabad and New Delhi had quietly toiled away for three years, talking to each other and Kashmiri representatives from the Indian side as well as Kashmiris settled overseas to reach the only possible solution to the Kashmir issue.” He said the “two sides had agreed to full demilitarization of both Jammu & Kashmir as well as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which Islamabad refers to as Azad Kashmir. In addition, a package of loose autonomy that stopped short of the ‘azadi’ and self-governance aspirations had been agreed on and was to be introduced on both sides of the disputed frontier. We agreed on a point between complete independence and autonomy.”


Kasuri did not stop here, but added, “both countries, realizing the sensitivity of such a deal, had agreed not to declare victory or tom-tom the negotiations.” The “hardliner separatist Syed Ali Shah Gilani was the only Kashmiri leader who refused to come on board. He would accept nothing but merger with Pakistan, which ironically is something we too wanted but knew wasn’t practical. I once had a seven-to-eight hour meeting with him and even Musharraf met him, but he refused to budge…”


As per Kasuri, “almost all the actors on the Kashmiri stage were on board the accord that was to be signed during a visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Islamabad that was scheduled for February-March 2007, but never happened.”


Kasuri further disclosed: “I advised the president that inviting the PM (Manmohan Singh) at that time would not have been possible. And that we should wait for a more peaceful moment to announce the plan, otherwise all the hard work of three years by the two sides would be wasted… Since the Opposition was on a roll against Musharraf at that time, any peace plan would have been rejected by them as a sell-out to India.”


Four, on more than one occasion, the All-Party Hurriyat Conference–Mirwaiz (APHC-M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has also admitted that a solution to the Kashmir issue had been worked out. In fact, he is one of those Kashmiri separatists who has consistently hailed the four-point Kashmir formula suggested by Musharraf, saying it appears to be the only feasible solution considering the situation as it prevails in India and Pakistan.


Five, A.G. Noorani, mouthpiece of Islamabad and Kashmiri separatists, has been hinting at this type of solution since 2007. He has written a number of essays on the Musharraf formula and repeatedly urged the Indian establishment to accept and implement it forthwith, saying such a gesture on New Delhi’s part would end the 63-year-old impasse between the two countries and also satisfy the Kashmiri Muslims.


These are only five of several such instances which prove there are elements in the Indian establishment and Islamabad, as also in Indian Kashmir, who are working day and night to ensure implementation of the Musharraf formula, notwithstanding the National Assembly assertion of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi that Musharraf had damaged the Kashmiri cause and that there was no question of the Musharraf formula being implemented. These examples vindicate the stand of the founders of the Forum Against Dixon Plan – Bali Bhagat of BJP, Hari Om of Congress, Ajay Chrungoo of Panun Kashmir and Ch. Abdul Rouf of Jammu State Morcha (Progressive) – that moves are afoot to divide Jammu province along the Chenab River on communal lines.         


The outcome of the March 1990 Colombo meeting between the Indian and Pakistani Foreign Ministers; the May 2, 2009 revelations by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh regarding the agreement reached with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf; the statements by Pervez Musharraf in 2007 and thereafter in this regard; the April 24, 2010 revelations by former Pakistan Foreign Minister Kasuri; and what Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and well-known India-basher and India-based spokesperson of Islamabad and Kashmiri separatists A.G. Noorani said umpteen times in the past few years, clearly establish that those who call the shots in India and Pakistan had considered, and continue to consider, the Dixon Plan as an ideal solution to the “Kashmir problem”.


Who was Sir Owen Dixon? Who authorized him to visit India and Pakistan to discuss ways and means with the concerned authorities in both countries to resolve the “Kashmir issue”? What did Dixon suggest? What was the attitude of Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the Dixon Plan and what exactly did it entail?


The answer to the last question first is that Dixon wanted – apart from several other anti-India steps – division of Jammu province on purely communal lines in order to help (at the behest of the United States and other rabidly anti-India countries) Pakistan, the aggressor.


Owen Dixon was an Australian judge appointed by the United Nations as its representative for India and Pakistan (UNRIP) after General A.G.L. McNaughton of Canada, who had been appointed as UN representative for India and Pakistan on December 17, 1949, told the UN on February 3, 1950 that he had failed to resolve the conflict between the two nations. Dixon was appointed UNRIP in March 1950. He reached the sub-continent on May 27, 1950. Immediately after his arrival, he talked to the concerned Indian and Pakistani officials, but separately. He visited Jammu and Kashmir for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. His basic objective was to see if plebiscite could be organized in the whole State in one go, and if Jammu and Kashmir could be demilitarized.


Dixon took no time to realize that “the chances of a plebiscite for the whole state proving successful were much reduced by the failure of the parties over so long a period of time, notwithstanding the assistance of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), to agree upon in practical measures in pursuance of that course for the solution of the problem…Only if and when I was satisfied that no such agreement could be brought about and that all real chance of it had ended, ought I to turn to some form of settlement other than a plebiscite of the whole state”.


Dixon was fully aware of the difficulties that beset the problem. The attitude of both India and Pakistan had hardened. Pakistan had been emboldened by the support it had received from the United States and a number of Western countries. It was not prepared to relinquish its gains (Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan). New Delhi felt, rightly, that the Security Council dominated by Western countries had all through not only tried to overlook India’s legal, political and moral claims, but willfully created situations to humiliate it and deprive it of its legitimate due. New Delhi therefore looked upon the efforts of the Security Council with misgivings and was not prepared to yield even the smallest ground.


In these circumstances Dixon tried to bring about an atmosphere of cordiality between India and Pakistan, arranging a meeting between himself and the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, at New Delhi, from July 20 to July 24. At the meeting, neither India nor Pakistan agreed for demilitarization of the state. The initiative in this direction was left solely with the UN representative. In his report to the Security Council, Dixon without branding Pakistan as an aggressor, acknowledged that Pakistan violated international law twice, first on October 20, 1947, when hostile forces entered Kashmir, and then in May 1948, when regular Pakistani units moved into the state.


Thereafter, he proposed that the “first step in demilitarization should consist of withdrawal of the Pakistani regular forces commencing on a named day… Then the other operations on each side of the cease-fire line should take place and as far as practicable, concurrently.” Dixon also asked for the disarming and disbandment of the “Azad Kashmir” forces and the Northern Scouts. Pakistan differed from Dixon’s basic approach, but expressed willingness to accept the “sequence of demilitarization proposed by him.”


Dixon asked New Delhi to withdraw its Army and disband the Jammu and Kashmir State forces and State Militia, subject to the need of (a) assisting the civil power in maintaining law and order, and (b) guarding the northern approaches to the Valley against possible incursion (an indirect admission that Jammu and Kashmir was part of India). For the so-called Azad Kashmir, Dixon’s plan was to attach a UN officer to each district magistrate of the area for ensuring fair and impartial administration.


Dixon’s suggestions were not acceptable to New Delhi as the existing district magistrates of the area had been appointed after the invasion by Pakistan. As for Gilgit-Baltistan, Dixon’s Plan was to appoint a political agent or agents of the United Nations in consultation with India and Pakistan. Such agents were to act through the existing channels of authorities.


Dixon also suggested several other alternatives. One was forming a coalition government through meetings of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Choudhary Ghulam Abbas. He intended to place certain portfolios at the disposal of the respective parties. But his proposals had no taker. Another alternative was the creation of a set-up consisting of “trusted persons outside politics, holding high judicial or administrative offices and commanding public confidence.” “The Hindus and Muslims would be equally represented with a United Nations deputed Chairman.” His third plan was to have an “administration containing United Nations representatives.” None of these proposals was acceptable to New Delhi. A coalition government was not possible in view of widening gulf between the different parties of the state at that time.


New Delhi found a contradiction between the position from which Dixon had started and the actual plan he framed. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru asserted, among other things, that “India could not ask the state to disband its militia, which was acting as the police, as it would prejudice the organization of the state, that India could not countenance for a moment the idea of limiting its forces in the area because of the presence of the invading elements within its territory.”


As Dixon could not succeed in obtaining Indian agreement to conditions which, in his opinion, would ensure a fair and impartial state-wide plebiscite, he tried at a conference with the India and Pakistan Prime Ministers to ascertain their reactions to two alternatives: (a) a plan for holding plebiscite by sections or areas, and the allocation to India or Pakistan of each section or area according to the result of the vote therein, (b) a plan for allocation of areas certain to vote for accession to either country, and a plebiscite for the uncertain area of the Valley of Kashmir. The initial reaction of Pakistan was one of total opposition, but India agreed to consider this approach.


Convinced there was no possibility of a “mutual agreement”, Dixon applied himself to the task of preparing a plan and having it either accepted or rejected or modified by agreement. He revived the old idea of administration by United Nations officers, now for the limited plebiscite area. He devised the completely new formula that this administration would be competent to exclude troops of every description, or, if they were found necessary, they would ask the parties to provide them. India emphatically refused to agree to any such provision for it amounted to equating the aggressed and the aggressor.


Sir Owen Dixon left the sub-continent on August 23, 1950, thus ending another phase of United Nations mediation. He filed his report with the Security Council explaining in detail his negotiations and the failure of his mission.


Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru rejected out-of-hand Dixon’s admixture report immediately after its publication, on five specific grounds. One, implementation of the Dixon Plan “would turn Kashmir into an area of communal bigotry, where plebiscite would be neither fair nor peaceful.” Two, “there could be no question of India abdicating her constitutional rights in Kashmir.” Three, “Pakistan could have no standing in the dispute.” Four, “India had a painful experience of coalition governments – a paralysis results out of an admixture of incompatibles.” And, fifth, “the United Nations could not be a substitute for India, so far as the obligation to safeguard the security of the state is concerned.”


The attitude of the Indian Press to the Dixon Plan was identical to that of Nehru. According to The Hindu (September 22, 1950), Sir Owen Dixon “had not made it even of his secondary aims to establish right over might in Kashmir.” The Hindustan Times (August 25, 1950) described the Dixon Plan “as one more of Alice in the Wonderland developments.” As per Amrita Bazar Patrika (September 24, 1950), “the diplomat in him had got the better of his sense of justice.” The National Herald (August 25, 1950) said, “by this amazing final proposal, Dixon has forfeited the confidence India had in his judicial temper and impartiality.”


It is this archaic out-and-out anti-India and communal Dixon Plan that certain elements in India want to implement to end the conflict over Jammu and Kashmir and conciliate Pakistan and its agents in Kashmir. Obviously, they are oblivious of the grave evils that would follow implementation of the pernicious Dixon Plan, including bloodshed and displacement of people, Hindus and Muslims alike, in Jammu province. It needs to be noted that the immediate fallout of the implementation of the Dixon Plan would the merger of such areas as parts of Udhampur, Doda, Reasi and Jammu districts, including Akhnoor, and the whole of Poonch and Rajouri districts into Pakistan; or their merger with the Muslim Kashmir.     


One can understand the support being extended by Pakistan and its agents in Kashmir and other parts of India, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and A.G. Noorani to the Dixon Plan that seeks to divide Jammu province along Chenab River on purely communal lines. After all, implementation of the Dixon Plan helps Pakistan establish physical control over the Chenab River and meet the water needs of Sindh, Baluchistan and North West Frontier Province. Islamabad believes that physical control over the Chenab alone would help preserve the unity and integrity of Pakistan. These three provinces are against Punjab and one reason behind their anger is the water policy the Punjab-dominated government in Pakistan has evolved and implemented. Implementation of the Dixon Plan also helps those in Kashmir who are talking in terms of self-rule, joint-management, supra-state measures, dual currency, demilitarization and theocratic dispensation.


But one fails to understand how parties like the BJP which consistently claims it would not accept any solution that dilutes Indian sovereignty in Jammu and Kashmir, and that it stands for the State’s total merger with India and abrogation of Article 370, can consider the Dixon Plan as a solution to the Kashmir issue. Similarly, one fails to understand why certain elements in the Congress-led UPA government are thinking in terms of accepting the Dixon Plan as a solution to the Kashmir problem.


Both BJP and the UPA government would do well to reject outright any suggestion that divides Jammu on communal lines; facilitates formation of Greater Kashmir comprising Muslim Kashmir and the Muslim and non-Muslim-dominated areas of Jammu province and Ladakh region, and that recognizes Islamabad as one of the most important factors in Indian Jammu and Kashmir. They would do well to remember that implementation of the 1950 Dixon Plan would not only lead to bloodshed and displacement of populations in Jammu province and victory of Pakistan and the Kashmiri communalists, but would also mean no control whatsoever of India over the northern frontiers. It is good that persons like Bali Bhagat, Hari Om, Ajay Chrungoo and Abdul Rouf have come forward to educate the public about the dangerous ramifications of the implementation of the Dixon Plan.               

The writer is a resident of Jammu & Kashmir  

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