Vintage Kashmir

Sheikh’s bete noire, Choudhary Ghulam Abbas

Choudhry Ghulam Abbas [1904-1967] was a lawyer and a leading politician of Jammu and Kashmir. He worked together with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah since the early 1930s but they fell out later in the decade when the Muslim Conference was rechristened as National Conference. Choudhary revived Muslim Conference in 1941 and remained its leader until his death. In the decisive times of 1947, Choudhary is believed to have taken a stand for Pakistan but there are no clear evidences. He was locked in the jail by Maharaja Hari Singh’s administration and was released long after Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India. On his migration to ‘Azad Kashmir’ [Pakistan administered Kashmir] in 1947, he became the supreme head of the ‘Azad Kashmir’ government. Choudhary died in Rawalpindi on December 18, 1967 and was laid to rest in Faizabad near Rawalpindi, close to the capital city of Islamabad, Pakistan.

Early life and career

Choudhry Ghulam Abbas was born in a middle class Punjabi Muslim family of Choudhry Nawab Khan on February 4, 1904 at Jammu. He graduated from the Prince of Wales College, Jammu [Government Gandhi Memorial Science College]. He received his law degree from the Lahore Law College, and started his career as a lawyer in Jammu. He was offered a position of Sub-Judge but he refused.

He reorganized the socio-political organization Young Men’s Muslim Association, which was established earlier in 1909 and was the only platform that Muslims were using to raise their political voice in Jammu and Kashmir. This organization conducted some massive demonstrations against the Dogra rule and its activities.

In order to safeguard the rights of the Muslims of the Valley of Kashmir, another organization, All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference was established. Its president was Sheikh Abdullah while Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas was elected as its secretary general. Later the organization was renamed as Jammu and Kashmir National Conference. But when Sheikh Abdullah developed his association with Nehru and the All India National Congress, Ch0udhry Ghulam Abbas withdrew from the National Conference. Consequently, the Muslim Conference was revived under the leadership of Choudhry Ghulam Abbas. The Muslim Conference demanded Kashmir affiliation to Pakistan on July 19, 1947.

Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas campaigned for the affiliation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan. He arrived in Pakistan after the transfer of prisoners in 1948 when the ceasefire in the Kashmir conflict took effect and served the Azad Kashmir government till 1951. He presented the case of Pakistan in the United Nations along with Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan when India asked UNO to resolve the issue, which ended up with forming of the cease-fire line between the ‘Indian-occupied Kashmir’ and Azad Kashmir.

In 1951, he resigned as head of the Azad Kashmir government and did not participate in government politics after that.

Death and legacy

He died of stomach cancer on December 18, 1967 and was buried at Faizabad, Rawalpindi, Pakistan as he willed to be buried in Pakistan. He is survived by three sons Tariq Abbas, Tahir Abbas, Farooq Abbas and two daughters Rahat Abbas, Wajahat Abbas. In 1995, Pakistan Postal Services issued a commemorative postage stamp to honor his services. In 2006, a public event was organized in Rawalpindi, Pakistan to observe his death anniversary on 19 Dec 2006 where the leaders of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, Sardar Abdul Qayyum and Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan paid tributes to him.


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