INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Office of Current Intelligence4
SUBJECT: Kashmir and Sheikh Abdullah
tbe course of the last year, Indian policy toward Kashmir has moved slowly toward The release of former Kashmiri primeSheikh Abdullahpril, aftor nearlyears of Imprisonment, is the most significant step New Delhi has taken to arrest this slide and improve its image at home and abroad. The release, however,amble of major proportions Id view of theAbdullah's known differences with the Indianon the extent to which Kashmiris may govern their own affairs.
For the ten years prior to last August, India's rule ovor the state depended on Bakshl Ghulamorrupt and dictatorial prime minister backed ultimately by the strength of the Indian Army. Any fair election ln the predominantly Muslim state in which the options were limitedreference for Indian or Pakistani rule would have resultedhoice of Pakistan.
However, because Kashmir is predominantly Muslim and because ofyear-old dispute with Pakistan for control of the state, it hastatus well beyond its immediate importance. Itymbol of India's "secularity" to Indiansecular bent and of vital Indian national interestsariety of other political elements. It Is the "sacred cow" of Indian politics; both tho right and the left agree that Kashmir is Indian and mustso.
4. New Delhi, however, had increasingly felt that Bakshi's value as the strong man capable of keeping the lid on the state had depreciated, and that because of his unsavory qualities herowing burden both at home and especially abroad,
where Pakistan wasoncerted and largely successful policy of focusing attention on Kashmir and calling into question India's right to block self-determination for thc Kashmiris. Included also havepate of new military incidents along the cease-fire line.
In what wasey miscalculation, New Delhi removed Bakshl last August as part of the widor Kamaraj plan for rejuvenating the Congress Party by bringing high-powered ministers Into full-time party work. However, because of Bakshi'sNew Delhi failed to get its man in the Job and wound up insteadpineless Bakshi puppet.
When the state was thrown into turmoil last December by the theftuch-revered Muslim relicImplications that Bakshi wasantigovernment, and, inferentially, anti-Indian disturbances resulted. Bakshi's puppet proved unequal to the task, and ho and his mentor were thoroughly discredited. Tbe attention focused on the communally-sensitive Kashmir question by thc relic controversy and by steady Pakistani pressurohain reaction of Hindu-Muslim bloodshed
ln East Pakistan and northeastern India which is not yet fully spent.
about the same time, Nehru sufferedand Lai Bahadur Shastri, considerablyand pragmatic than the decliningto the cabinet and began making hisfelt. He broughtuick resolutionrolic controversy and, urther step toIndia's image in and outside Kashmir,election to the prime ministry of G. M. Sadlq,
an antl-Bakshi politician who had been Nehru's original choice to succeed Bakshl in August.
new regime moved to liberalizestate Bakshi had built up, in part to put
a new face on Indian rule ln Kashmir. It had little popular support, however, and Kashmiris, theirwhetted by finally getting rid of tbe hated Bakshi, continued to press for even more change.
9. Tbe focus of their attention was the long-imprisoned and widely popular Sheikh Abdullah who, as the state's prime minister, hadeading role in Kashmir's accession to India An old Independence struggle colleague of Nehru's, Abdullah bad been deposed and jailed3 when it became clear to New Delhi that Abdullah wanted more autonomy for Kashmir than India was willing to permit. hort period of freedombdullah reasserted these views, was again jailed, and was charged with conspiring to bring Kashmir into Pakistan.
the state rudderless, withto mount, and with Pakistanrelentless pressure at the UN and alongline, something had to give ifto be restored. Laying his reputation onShastrl moved in the only way he saw open.
He persuaded Nehru that the situation in Kashmir was moving so swiftly toward crisis that unless New Delhi movedesort to force would be necessary. He proposed the release of Abdullah, not because he felt the Sheikh had changed his views or because he agreed with them but because he felt tbat New Delhi had to gamble and tbat Abdullah might have mellowed enough to come to some mutuallyarrangement. He reasoned that the explosion which New Delhi sought to avoid could just as easily occur with the Sheikh in jail as out and that his release offered the only way out ofighly risky one. If successful, the gamble couldtable and popular government to the state and might also result in some progressettlement with Pakistan;ailure, thewould be no worse than it would have been had nothing been done. Abdullah was accordingly releasedpril. Indian newspapers described the release as an act ofhope that somehow it would be possible to workodus Vivendi with theSheikh.
first press conference on 9some cold water on this hope. He leftbut he said enough to dispel any doubtsfollowers that he had sold out to New Delhihis release. Moreover, he said enough"pain" and "amazement" fromild
"unfortunate" from Nehru,eminder of his Just-vacated Jail cell from another Indian minister. What he said actuallyelatively mild repetition of his long-held views. He does not regard tho Kashmir dispute as settled by accession to India; he feels that it isroblem to be worked out taking due account of both India and Pakistan; and ho feels that Kashmiris shouldoice in this too. But he seemed also interested in maintaining some measure of flexibility, at least until he hashanco later this month to meet with Nehru, Shastrl, and company.
Editorial comment in India was almostbad, and the hard-liners onboth the Krishna He non left and the traditional Hinduup their pressure to resist any changes in India's long-standing policies toward tho state.
Actually, India's objectives have not changed. India wants to retain control of the two thirds of the state that It now rules or claims to rule, and it wants to do so with minimum recourse to the discredited strong-arm measures of Bakshi's time. However, in the changing atmosphere in New Delhi, there does appear toreater willingness to go further down the road with Abdullah to salve Kashmiri discontent and to satisfy Kashmiri yearnings short of option for Pakistan orindependence. New Delhi may be willing to arrest the state's integration with the rest of India and to countenanco greater autonomy for an eventual government to be formed and led by Abdullah. But this will take time, and India hopes Abdullah will sense the changing
of the guard in New Delhi and will act responsibly ln the framework provided.
has emerged from jail, however,strongest hand he has ever had in dealing with Everything depends on whether or not hothe role thc Indians have ln mind, how muchrelmprisonment he is willing to run, and onnewly emerging team in New Delhi has the courage
to stay with the game they have started. Pakistan's actions, too, will be important; thus far, tbe Ayub government has welcomed his release and obviously sees in Abdullah an opportunity to exploit. It does not want to jump in too quickly, however, at least notthc Sheikh has sorted out his relationship with the Indian Government.
15. We believe that the chances of his workingodus vivendi with New Delhi are about even. But this is the first order of business; only after this has been accomplished can there be any movement forward in the basic Indo-Pakistani dispute over Kashmir.Original document.