Junagadh issue Another flashpoint between India and Pakistan
ON 04 August 2020, Pakistan unveiled a new political map including Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Junagadh.
The move came on the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 by India, related to Jammu and Kashmir.
There are various modifications in the new political map of Pakistan, but most notable change is the inclusion of Junagadh State showing it a part of Pakistan.
Just like in the case of Kashmir, the dispute over Junagadh State has its roots in the events of 1947. It was one of the 562 princely states in British India.
Junagadh’s accession to Pakistan on 15 September 1947 was the first test of the Indian Independence Act of July 1947, which allowed the princely states to accede to either of the two dominions or remain independent.
Junagadh was the premier state in the western Kathiawar region of the subcontinent, commanding strategic importance as a maritime state. It was bound on three sides by India and its only free outlet was to the Arabian Sea.
When all rulers of princely states were being asked whether they preferred to accede to India and Pakistan, the Nawab of the Junagadh, Mahabat Khanji, signed the Instrument of Accession with Pakistan which was approved by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.
Government of India was at first puzzled by this move, as Junagadh, a little principality in Kathiawar, was surrounded from three sides by India.
As per the partition plan, the ruler of Junagadh had a right to accede to the state of his choice.
Government of India decided to take unilateral action and sent in troops to Junagadh State.
Pakistan could not provide much help, due to its own administrative and refugee problems, and even the grain rations and seven companies of police it provided were not enough for Junagadh.
Thereafter, the Government of India took over the administration of the state on 9 November 1947 under the pretext of restoring law and order.
The Government of Pakistan reacted strongly to this action and the then Prime Minister, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, sent a telegram to Indian counterpart Jawaharlal Nehru protesting such blatant occupation of a state that had legally acceded to Pakistan.
He wrote, “Your action in taking over the state administration and sending Indian troops to the state without any authorization from the Government of Pakistan and indeed without our knowledge is a clear violation of Pakistan’s territory and breach of international law.”
Since then, India claims Junagadh its own part whereas Pakistan claims Junagadh is still part of Pakistan which is under Indian occupation.
Pakistan took the case of occupation of Junagadh to the United Nations Security Council and vowed to continue its struggle for the liberation of Junagadh.
The Kashmir conflict eclipsed the matter of Junagadh at the United Nations Security Council, where Junagadh’s case is still unresolved.
The Nawab’s inclination towards acceding to Pakistan was also because Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the first Governor General and Founder of Pakistan, was giving the right to the rulers of princely states to freely decide about the future of their states. On the other side, India was coercing the rulers into joining India.
Lord Mountbatten also forced the states with different tactics to accede with India and that is perhaps why the Congress accepted him as first Governor General of India.
The ‘Instrument of Accession’ is a legal instrument which is carried between two states and is valid for accession.
The aforementioned Instrument of Accession of Junagadh has the status of a ‘Treaty’ in the eyes of international law and Pakistan’s claim finds legal grounds that Junagadh is still part of Pakistan. The Instrument of Accession is a binding legal contract between the states and it acts as the legal transfer of title between the state acceding and the state acceded to.
According to Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties, every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith.
Therefore, as per international law, Junagadh is still part of Pakistan. Thus one finds Pakistan’s stance based upon principles just like its stance on issues of Kashmir and Nagorno-Karabakh.
The present Nawab of Junagadh, Nawab Muhammad Jahangir Khanji, has appealed to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan to become an ambassador of Junagadh and raise the issue like the case of Kashmir.
As Pakistan has been raising voice on the Indian atrocities in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, it needs to raise voice at international level for the just resolution of Junagadh issue.
The newly elected Dewan (Prime Minister) of Junagadh Sahibzada Sultan Ahmed Ali has vowed that ‘Junagadh is Pakistan’ is not just a slogan, but it has become their foremost mission.
He has urged the people of the princely state to stand up for their freedom from Indian occupation and get their right.
The Government of Pakistan has also shown its interest to raise the case of Junagadh as after the move of political map, Pakistan Post has also issued commemorative stamps having new political map including Junagadh State last December.
issue considering its potential being an old and major conflict between two nuclear states. In academia as well as media, it has not received much attention.
Researchers and analysts should work on new dimensions of the issue of Junagadh while keeping in view the current international geopolitical scenario.
It is time for the international community to pay attention to the resolution of issues like Junagadh and Kashmir in South Asia for sustainable peace in the region.
The highly nuclearized region will remain on the brink of a disastrous catastrophe until and unless the issues as old as the UN itself are resolved.
—The writer is an Associate Professor at Department of Azerbaijan-Asia Literary Relations, Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences.