The British interests in Kashmir have been varied. To start with they were borne out of a regret over the transfer of Kashmir to the Dogras in 1846. Bit after their confrontation with Russia at Panjdeh in 1885, they developed some genuine strategic interests in the Gilgit region of the State. Consequently the Maharaja was deposed on trumped-up charges of sedition and the Gilgit Agency was established to bring Gilgit completely under British control.

Maharaja Hari Singh who succeeded to the gaddi in 1925 had pronounced nationalistic leanings which remained a continuous source of irritation and anxiety to the British – their good opinion of his ability to rule well not withstanding – but it was  his persistence in demanding  the restoration of Gilgit to State control that provided the proverbial last straw. The British used the Muslim agitation of 1931 not only for curing him of his recalcitrance but also for forcing him to hand over Gilgit to them on a lease of sixty years.

The British interests in Kashmir did not cease after the grant of independence to the Sub Continent. With Pakistan opting to join the Anglo-American block after Independence, the protection of its interests became a British responsibility. Thus Mountbatten, in a display of diplomacy par excellence, made the most serious and concerted moves in support of Pakistan’s efforts  to secure the accession of Kashmir, even as he continued to be counted among India’s great well wishers. It was perhaps because of his influence that in spite of India’s case being so strong, the Indian leaders have all along  followed a defensive policy which has done immense harm to our cause; externally and internally. 

Unfortunately the contemporary history of Kashmir has to received a fair treatment from most writers, with whom political considerations seem to have weighed more heavily than the requirement of objectivity. An attempt has been made in this book to present history of the period in its correct perspective; to be of value in dealing with the present and preparing for the future.

BRITISH DIPLOMACY IN KASHMIR

Prelude