Sold down the River – Karachi Agreement

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Karachi Agreement

The Karachi Pact (1949), 28 April

After the war between India and Pakistan in 1947, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan came under Pakistan’s control pending referendum in Jammu and Kashmir. The UN Security Council called on Pakistan to withdraw tribesmen from the AKGB region, which was to be followed by withdrawal of Pakistani and Indian troops from the Pakistan and Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir. These sequential steps would then prepare the ground for a referendum which was to decide the fate of Jammu and Kashmir.1

Afterwards Pakistan’s army officially came into Jammu Kashmir on May,1948. Pakistan then went to on to make its control on AKGB stronger. In April 1949, an agreement was signed between Mushtaq Gurmani (a federal minister without portfolio), Sardar Ibrahim (President of AJK) and Ghulam Abbas (President of Muslim Conference), wherein matters relating to defense, foreign policy, UNCIP negotiations and policymaking on Gilgit was handed over to Pakistan which controlled the region through Ministry of Kashmir Affairs (established in 1950).2 There was no representation from Gilgit Baltistan even as the policymaking on the region got handed over to Pakistan.

The agreement

In the division of powers, the Pakistan government allocated to itself eight important matters including Defense, negotiations with the UNCIP, foreign policy, publicity in foreign countries, coordination of refugee relief and rehabilitation, coordination of all arrangements for a plebiscite, all activities within Pakistan with regard to Kashmir and, finally, all affairs of the `Gilgit and Ladakh areas’ (which were then under the control of the political agent at Gilgit).

The last item meant that Azad Kashmir `lost’ Gilgit and Baltistan from its control, essentially permanently. This put paid to Azad Kashmir’s claim of being an alternative government for the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and turned it into a `local authority’ limited to a rump territory of the state. Pakistan obtained the total control over the defense of the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, including the `Azad Army’. It also took complete charge of relations with the Indian government and the Indian-controlled part of Jammu and Kashmir. The Azad Kashmir government no longer had any international role.3

In 1972 AK legislative assembly passed a resolution to take back the control of Gilgit Baltistan but in1974 an act was passed which introduced reforms in administration and Bureaucracy. Lent officers were introduced and heads of the vital institutions were to be belonging to Pakistan. This increased the grip of the Pakistani Federal Government on AK as the reaction of 1972 resolution. Later in 90,s AK high court ordered the government to take control of GB but this decision was challenged in Supreme court presenting Karachi Pact and the decision was overturned but GB was still said to be the part of dispute of Jammu Kashmir.  

Karachi pact was a major transparency breach as the people of AK and Gilgit Baltistan were unware of such agreement at the time and decades after ,the agreement that would shape the dimension of there political position at such huge level. Only a few number of people were known to the document and only one a high judiciary official has written about it in his book by giving reference to a weekly magazine which is not even included in the list of known magazines or news papers of that time.

It was revealed by government level for the first time after 32 years in the Verdict on Gilgit and Baltistan (Northern Area) by the High Court of Azad Kashmir in 1990s. Later, it was published as the Appendix XVII of The Constitution of Azad Jammu & Kashmir by Justice Syed Manzoor Hussain Gilani in 2008.

The Autonomy of the state which people struggled against the oppressive rule of Hari Singh was disregarded and it was made an ineffective government which was useless to fulfil its goals and motives declared on 24th of October 1947 , by the same people who allegedly signed the Karachi agreement.

“The narrative propagated among the people of the region was that the Azad Kashmir government and the Muslim Conference accepted the agreement because they wanted Azad Kashmir to join Pakistan, which they expected to happen soon with the promised plebiscite. In reality, as a result of the agreement, the Joint Secretary to the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs acquired the status of being “the real head” of the Azad Kashmir government.”

The Equity and Participation element was void and null in the agreement because of lack of participation of the people who were to be mostly effected by the agreement. Gilgit Baltistan was given in the direct control of Pakistan which is still struggling to get its basic facilities 71 years after this agreement. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan are reportedly incensed with the Karachi Agreement because there was no representative of theirs in making the agreement even thought it decided on the fate of Gilgit-Baltistan. 4,5

The agreement was not consensus oriented as it was certainly a step towards merging Jammu Kashmir to Pakistan without the will of people of Jammu Kashmir and personal ideology and interest of the parties to the agreement , which was the violation to UNSC resolutions by pomoting Ideology of a specific sector that too in secret.

Later it was proved that this agreement was not efficient and effective as the later Pakistan and India settled the account of 71 war by Shimla agreement making it more of a bilateral issue . International influence on the issue became nil . On the other hand this dispute was presented internationally by keeping in mind the national interests and foreign policy of Pakistan so the case was always not represented as it should have been. While Gilgit Baltistan lacked its basic rights for more then 50 years.

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A petition was filed in the late 1990s named Al-Jehaad Trust case to draw the Supreme Court’s attention to the GB’s political marginalization, wherein the court acknowledged GB’s disputed status and called for granting constitutional rights to the people of the region.

It was in the aftermath of the 2009 Governance Order that the region was named Gilgit-Baltistan in accordance with the locals’ wishes, having previously been known simply as the “Northern Areas.” The Governance Order further allowed GB to have its own legislative assembly for the first time.

Despite having de facto control over Gilgit-Baltistan since 1949, Pakistan hadn’t given the locals any representation until the 2009 ordinance. And despite having attained that, GB wasn’t given any control over its own resources in the Reforms Order, 2018 prompting nationalist protests among the locals.

In January 2019, the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan, in a landmark judgment cleared the air on Pakistan’s administrative relationship with Gilgit Baltistan (GB). The court, besides terming GB as part of the Kashmir ‘dispute’, also extended its writ to the region.6,7  The controversial GB order, 2018, which was suspended by the GB Supreme Appellate Court, was also restored.     

 In brief, the SC judgment made two observations. Firstly, since GB is administered by Pakistan both de jure and de facto, Pakistan’s control meant that Supreme Court’s writ automatically applies to the region. Secondly, even though no constitutional changes could be initiated to incorporate GB into Pakistan as it formed part of the Kashmir ‘dispute’, fundamental rights still needed to be extended to the region. The court highlighted that any institutional mechanism to ensure greater rights to the people of GB should not violate the provisions of the UN resolutions on the Kashmir ‘dispute’.   

So we conclude that the Karachi agreement had more devastating effects then it had positive ones at the time it was being implemented .Now it is a complete burden on the chest of the soil and has restrained us from making any step towards freedom. It did no good to AK and did worst to GB. Moreover, it created an atmosphere of hatred between the people of both geographies. After India revoked Article 370 and there is no more state of JK on the Indian held side. AKGB would have been the precedent state to the State of Jammu Kashmir before 1947 and would have been recognized by the world. Instead, back in 1949, the newly formed State was turned into a local government. In a Sentence “ To earn legitimacy they also gave up our autonomy”.

      References

  1. 47 (1948). Resolution of 21 April 1948 [S/726] The Security Council,  Link https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://ssii.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/United-Nations-Resolutions-on-Kashmir-and-their-Relevance-Muhammad-Abdul-Qadeer.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjJjtaVhKPpAhWGyYUKHTZ2A1AQFjAEegQIBRAB&usg=AOvVaw0GtrISLiICccWlOcrwAjX2
  2. – Human Rights Watch (September 2006), “III. Constitutional Structure of Azad Kashmir and Its Relationship to Pakistan”, “With Friends like these…” Human Rights Violations in Azad Kashmir.https://www.hrw.org/reports/2006/pakistan0906/4.htm
  3. – Snedden (The untold story of the people of Azad Kashmir) pp. 90-91.
  4. – Crisis Group (2 April 2007), Discord in Pakistan’s Northern Areas
  5. ­- Brussels: International Crisis Group, p. 5 – May 20, 2016
  6. Bhatti, Haseeb. 2018. “Top Court’s Powers Extended To Gilgit-Baltistan, Rules Supreme Court”. Dawn, 2018.
  7. Supreme Court ruling on  Gilgit  Baltistan,  January  7,  2019.  Reference 
Written By: Saad Rafique & Usama Mumtaz

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