KASHMIR ISSUE IN A NUTSHELL
The current agitation in Indian-Held Kashmir is rooted in the struggle of the people for the exercise of the right of self-determination. Peaceful processions chanting demands for freedom were fired upon by Indian Army and Police. Hundreds of men, women and children have been killed or wounded.
New Delhi’s allegations of assistance to the Kashmiri people from the Pakistan side are unfounded. Objective reports in foreign media testify that the Kashmiri agitation is indigenous.
Pakistan upholds the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to self-determination in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. These resolutions of 1948 and 1949 provided for the holding of a free and impartial plebiscite for the determination of the future of the State by the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The basic points about the UN resolutions are that:
- the complaint relating to Kashmir was initiated by India in the Security Council;
- the Council explicitly and by implication, rejected India’s claim that Kashmir is legally Indian territory;
- the resolutions established self-determination as the governing principle for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute. This is the world body’s commitment to the people of Kashmir;
- the resolutions endorsed a binding agreement between India and Pakistan reached through the mediation of UNCIP, that a plebiscite would be held, under agreed and specified conditions.
The Security Council has rejected the Indian contention that the people of Kashmir have exercised their right of self-determination by participating in the “election” which India has from time to time organized in the Held Kashmir. The 0.2% turn out during the 1989 “elections” was the most recent clear repudiation of the Indian claim.
Pakistan continues to adhere to the UN resolutions. These are binding also on India.
The Simla Agreement of 2 July 1972, to which Pakistan also continues to adhere, did not alter the status of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory:
- Para 6 of the Agreement lists “a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir” as one of the outstanding questions awaiting a settlement.
- Para 4 (ii) talks of a “Line of Control” as distinguished from an international border. Furthermore, it explicitly protects “the recognized position of either side.” The recognized position of Pakistan is the one which is recognized by the United Nations and the World Community in general.
- Article 1 (iv) obviously refers to the Kashmir issue when it talks of “the basic issues and causes of conflict which have bedeviled the relations between the two countries for the last 25 years.
The Simla Agreement does not preclude raising of Kashmir issue at the United Nations:
- Para 1 (i) specifically provides that the UN Charter “shall govern” relations between the parties.
- Para 1 (ii) providing for settlement of differences by peaceful means, does not exclude resort to the means of pacific settlement of disputes and differences provided in the UN Charter.
- The UN Security Council remains seized of the Kashmir issue which remains on the Council’s agenda.
- Articles 34 and 35 of the UN Charter specifically empower the Security Council to investigate any dispute independently or at the request of a member State. These provisions cannot be made subservient to any bilateral agreement.
- According to Article 103 of UN Charter, member States obligations under the Charter take precedence over obligations under a bilateral agreement.
- Presence of United Nations Military Observes Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) at the Line of Control in Kashmir is a clear evidence of UN’s involvement in the Kashmir issue.
Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory. It does not involve the principle of respect for the unity and territorial integrity of states to which Pakistan adhere.
Attempts to forcibly suppress the legitimate demands of the people of Jammu and Kashmir are doomed to failure. Similarly, threats of use of force will not affect Pakistan’s resolve to maintain its position of principle.
The Indian claim is that the State is an integral part of the Indian Union and brooks no further discussion. With such a rigid approach, no scope for manoeuvre, what hope can be expected from any talks on the issue which India sometimes agrees to open with Pakistan to hoodwink the world opinion.
Ever since the Simla Agreement was signed, a quarter of a century ago, India has insisted that the issue is purely bilateral one and must be solved without any outside intercession or mediation. India is so allergic to the very reference of the issue in any international forum that one needs to recall India’s bitter reaction to Nelson Mandela’s mention of “Kashmir” at the 1998 NAM Conference in South Africa. Even as India comes to half-hearted international pressure to resolve the flashpoint issue of Kashmir with its neighbour, it only agrees to bilateral talks to gain time.
In May 1998 the issue came to the fore front in the wake of nuclear explosions first by India and then by Pakistan, after which many genuinely hoped that international pressure would be brought to bear on India to come to a meaningful resolution of the Kashmir problem that has bedeviled the two nations of the sub-continent and has eaten up so much of their meager resources. One thing is starkly clear : without an active interest of big powers to come to the rescue of Kashmiris, India will never agree to any meaningful talks on Kashmir.