“Junagadh is Pakistan” is not only a slogan of Junagadh State but also a dream saw by the ancestors of both Pakistan Quad-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Nawab of Junagadh Nawab Mahabbat Khanji. They also worked to achieve this dream through the instrument of accession with Pakistan. Now it is time for Pakistan to highlight the serious concern to the world community regarding the Indian forced occupation of Junagadh as this is against international law and norms.
Junagarh is a district in the Indian state of Gujarat; located on the Kathiawar Peninsula. Junagadh’s accession to Pakistan on September 15, 1947, was the first test of the Indian Independence Act of July 1947, which allowed the princely states to accede to either Pakistan or India. The Muslims of Junagarh still observe November 9, 1974, as a black day of Indian occupation. Since the black day of Indian occupation, rulers and citizens of the princely state have never let their lawful claim of Junagarh being part of Pakistan.
At the time of independence of Pakistan, the Junagadh State was under the Muslim rulers who were Nawab’s of the Babi dynasty. Nawab Mahabbat Khanji the Nawab of Junagadh signed the instrument of Accession with Governor-General of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This decision by the Nawab was taken after consultation with the State council of Junagadh which included both Hindus and Muslims. When the Nawab came to Karachi for settlement of different matters with Quaid-i-Azam, civil disorder was created in Junagadh by India, making it an excuse on security grounds, Indian forces occupied the State. It is pertinent to mention that under the instrument of accession, the defense was one of the express subjects, along with foreign affairs and communications that were handed over to Pakistan but due to the weak position of Pakistan at the time, the country couldn’t take any steps to defend the state of Junagadh.
The notification of this accession in the newspapers outraged New Delhi. The government of India on September 17, 1947 dispersed troops around Junagadh. As a result, the government of India resorted to two other tactics in order to bring Junagadh into line. The first was an economic blockade of the state, which choked the state of food and materials by the end of October 1947. The second tactic was the Arzi Hukumat (provisional government), which was set up under the leadership of Samaldas Gandhi, a nephew of Mahatma Gandhi, under the auspices of the government of India in Bombay.
The deteriorating security, food, and economic situation of Junagarh made it easier for India to take over the state. The Nawab, together with his household, left the state by the end of October to Karachi, leaving the state administration in the hands of the Dewan (Prime Minister) Shah Nawaz Bhutto. At that crucial time Pakistan sent Major K. M. Azhar to Junagadh, where he came across Indian occupied forces. Pakistan could not send the heavy military to Junagadh because of limited resources and already confrontation with Indian forces in Kashmir. The occupation of princely states by India was preplanned and, in this regard, British Viceroy Lord Mountbatten also helped India. Indian occupation on the state of Junagadh unveils the Indian malicious and aggressive intent. It is evidence from Indian’s denial to recognize the existence of Pakistan from the very first day of Pakistan’s independence. Lord Mountbatten also forced the states with different tactics to accede with India. It is on the record that Lord Mountbatten said that if he brought a basket of states on August 15, Congress would be ready to pay him any price and that’s why congress accepted him as Governor-General of India.
Thereafter, the government of India took over the administration of the state on November 9, 1947. The government of Pakistan reacted strongly to this action. Later on the plebiscite on February 20, 1948, under the control of the Indian army manipulated in favour of India, that Pakistan never accepted these results and to date considers Junagadh a legal part of Pakistan. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah then sent the case to the Security Council of United Nations.
At the time of independence, the Junagadh State was spread over an area of more than 3,500 square miles, 100 miles of coastline, some of the most important ports in the area with regards to commercial activity, and was one of the best-governed states of the sub-continent. Education was totally free in the State, scholarships were provided to the children, the State had some of the best medical facilities, and poor people were provided free food. Despite the fact that it was a Hindu majority State ruled by Muslim rulers but there was never any disturbance in the State because of outclassing governance.
Present Nawab of Junagadh Mohammad Jahangir Khanji appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan to become an ambassador of Junagadh as he did in the case of Kashmir and highlight the issue of liberation of the state from Indian occupation at all international forums. He wanted India and Pakistan to discuss the issue and settle it peacefully through dialogue. The Nawab of Junagadh also desired that the longstanding issue needs to be settled during his lifetime as he has spent his entire life keeping the Junagadh issue alive. India has been acting as a regional bully, aggravating sensitive matters for its own political gain, Modi’s legitimacy and claim to the Indian mandate is based on Hindutva and shameless jingoism. The Government of Pakistan should take some concrete steps for the settlement of the Junagadh issue like:
- Pakistan should raise the issue of Junagadh time and again at the international level and particularly it should raise this issue on the forum of the United Nations.
- Junagadh and Kashmir issues are separate issues and there is a need to deal with both issues separately with due significance and both issues should be raised on the United Nations forum.
- Pakistan should constitute a Junagadh committee in the parliament of Pakistan responsible for working on this issue.
- The establishment of the Junagadh house in Islamabad should be ensured.
- The foreign office of Pakistan should establish the Junagadh desk, responsible for devising strategies to ensure that the issue is settled in accordance with the applicable laws.
- Researchers and analysts should work on new dimensions of the issue of Junagadh while keeping in view the current international geopolitical scenario and support policymakers in fighting this case.
- The media should play a vibrant role in creating awareness regarding this issue among the general public.
- The young generation should be kept aware of this issue which is only possible if its history and details are included in the textbooks.
The Nawab of Junagadh Nawab Mohammad Jahangir Khanji also thanked Pakistan for including Junagadh in Pakistan’s released political map. He said that this reaffirms the commitment of the State of Pakistan towards the issue of Junagadh. “I will not rest and will not stay quiet till I have achieved my goal of the liberation of Junagarh,” he said.