Why accession to Pakistan was best option for Kashmir geographically and economically
For geographical and economic reasons, accession to Pakistan was the best option for Jammu and Kashmir in 1947.
1. Almost all of Jammu & Kashmir’s major geographical, communication and economic links were with areas of western Punjab and the KPK Province that were to become part of the state of Pakistan.
2. Geographically speaking, the only railway line that entered J&K was a branch of the North Western Railway from Sialkot, some 25 miles away in Pakistan, to J&K’s winter capital, Jammu City. As for motorable roads, Jammu & Kashmir had few.
3. Like the railway line, the main road to Jammu City was from Sialkot. Of the three roads to Srinagar, J&K’s summer capital, two entered J&K from areas that were to become part of Pakistan.
4. In 1940, almost all of the 29,292 visitors of Jammu and Kashmir, who comprised 8,367 Europeans and 20,925 Indians, would have entered J&K by roads coming from areas that were to become part of Pakistan, chiefly the Jhelum Valley Road.
5. Economically speaking, accession to Pakistan was feasible as J&K’s links with areas that were to become part of this new dominion were highly important. Up to 98 per cent of the non-timber exports from the Kashmir Valley went via the Jhelum Valley Road to Rawalpindi.
6. Rawalpindi was considered the ‘warehouse’ for goods transiting to and from the Kashmir Valley. J&K timber exports were floated down the Jhelum and Chenab rivers to points downstream in (Pakistani) Punjab.
7. Goods from J&K freighted by rail from Jammu City or Rawalpindi were carried on the western rail network to Karachi, the traditional port for the princely state. Owing to its proximity, Karachi enjoyed a 65 per cent freight advantage over goods sent to Bombay or Calcutta.
8. Of the two roads that entered J&K from Pak, the first was all-weather Jhelum Valley Road, which ran alongside Jhelum River for 132 of its 196 miles. This road began in Rawalpindi, where there was a railhead, and then went via Murree and Domel, near Muzaffarabad, to Srinagar.
9. A second road went from the NWFP rail terminus of Havelian, seventy-one miles further north of Rawalpindi, via Abbottabad, to Muzaffarabad, and then to Srinagar.
10. A third, ‘more picturesque’ road was an extension of the Sialkot-Jammu road. This route went for 203 miles from Jammu City to Srinagar via the Banihal Pass, which was often snowbound during winter from December to April and was ‘notoriously liable to gullying and landslips’.
11. In terms of communications, J&K’s post and telegraphic links invariably followed the major road and/or rail links that entered the princely state. These also originated in, or traversed through, areas that were to become part of Pakistan.