By Umer Tariq
“I present my services to the Government of Pakistan to work for the settlement of the Junagadh dispute: Nawab Jahangir Khanji”
ISLAMABAD: The outstanding issue of the State of Junagadh is still legally genuine at the international level because the Instrument of Accession is still intact; this was stated by Nawab of Junagadh Nawab Jahangir Khanji while speaking exclusively with Daily The Patriot. Nawab Jahangir Khanji said that it is very important that the issue be raised on international forum and said that the Pakistani nation should not forget their claim of the territory of Junagadh.
At the time of independence of Pakistan the Junagadh State was under the Muslim rulers who were Nawab’s of the Babi dynasty. According to the June 3 Plan, Nawab Mahabbat Khanji the then Nawab of Junagadh signed the Instrument of Accession with the then 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, and making it an excuse for security concerns, Indian forces occupied the State. It is pertinent to mention that under the instrument of accession 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. After occupation by the Indian forces, the question of arranging plebiscite there became irrelevant due to the presence of occupied forces. Quaid-e-Azam then sent the case to United Nations.
According to Nawab Jahangir Khanji at the time of independence the Junagadh State was spread over an area of more than 3,500 square miles, had 100 miles of coastline, had 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 that fact that it was a Hindu majority State ruled by Muslim rulers there was never any disturbance in the State because how it was governed.
Despite the fact that the State of Junagadh is occupied territory successive Government in Pakistan have failed to properly raise the issue at the international level. In fact, it is extremely unfortunate that even the Nawab of Junagadh Nawab Jahangir Khanji whose grandfather sacrificed everything by deciding to accede with Pakistan has not been given the protocol and facilities the Nawab deserves for his tremendous sacrifices. While speaking to Daily The Patriot Nawab Jahangir Khanji told that with the Presidential order number 15 of 1972 many privileges accorded to the Nawab of Junagadh were revoked in complete violation of the Instrument of Accession. The application of the Presidential Order number 15 on the Nawab of Junagadh was in violation of Instrument of Accession because other states had signed supplementary and additional treaties and merged with Pakistan, however the case of Junagadh is altogether different as it is occupied territory. Moreover as per the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the case is pending with the United Nations and should be settled in accordance with the international laws.
Responding to a question regarding the possible solution of the issue, Nawab Jahangir Khanji said that India and Pakistan should discuss the issue and it should be settled peacefully through dialogue. He said that he is willing to present his services to the Government of Pakistan for the peaceful settlement of the issue. The Nawab said that it his wish that the longstanding issue is settled during his lifetime as he has spent his entire life to keep the Junagadh issue alive.
Nawab Jahangir Khanji also lamented the fact that his family has not been given the status he deserves as the Nawab of Junagadh; the Nawab however praised the efforts and support of Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt Gen (R) Abdul Qadir Baloch for highlighting the issue of Junagadh. He also thanked Daily The Patriot for highlighting the issue and expressed his desire to meet Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to discuss the Junagadh issue.
The Government should accord the due status and honour to the Nawab of Junagadh according to the commitments made by Quaid-i-Azam to the Nawab and people of Junagadh for the state’s accession to Pakistan in 1947. The Government should also actively pursue the Junagadh on the same footing as the Kashmir issue and work for its settlement.