Discriminatory Approach of United Nations and International Community in Resolving Kashmir Issue

By Brig Asif Haroon Raja

“Oh Morning breeze if you happen to pass over to Geneva,

Tell them that a nation was sold but was sold very cheap”.  –  Dr. Allama Iqbal

Six and half decades have gone past and Kashmir dispute is yet to be resolved. No light is seen at the end of the tunnel and people of Kashmir continue to suffer immensely under the boots of Indian security forces. It has remained unsolved because of India’s intransigence and UN’s indolence.

While India has continued to play hide and seek to gain time and avoid settlement of the dispute, UN has tended to ignore India’s evasive tactics, lame excuses, double speak, stubbornness and policy of non-cooperation. Instead of admonishing India and taking it to task for continuously defying UN resolutions, it has yielded to India’s gimmickry and cunning manipulations.

Apathy of the UN. It will be worth recounting apathetic attitude of the UN to tackle this festering problem.

UNSC resolution dated 17 January 1948 called upon India and Pakistan to cease hostilities, carryout simultaneous withdrawal of tribesmen and Indian troops, set up a neutral administration and hold a plebiscite under UN control.

Next UN resolution dated 6 February 1948 appealed to both parties to seek a solution through negotiations under auspices of UNSC, withdraw all irregular forces and armed individuals. Plebiscite was to be supervised under UNSC.

On 21 April 1948, Belgium, Canada, UK and USA, resolution was drafted envisaging holding of plebiscite after restoration of peace under a Plebiscite Administrator.

Pakistan rejected this resolution since it was clearly biased in favor of India. It had asked Pakistan to withdraw all its troops from territories of J&K while allowing India to retain forces for maintenance of law and order.

Another resolution was adopted by Security Council on 5 January 1949. UNCIP prepared a detailed plan for plebiscite in which it was decided to hold plebiscite under supervision of a Plebiscite Administrator. On 4 February 1949, Pakistan withdrew all tribesmen and Pakistani nationals from Kashmir.

Framework of UN Resolutions. Basic points of all UN resolutions were: –

·       Settlement of Kashmir dispute through a plebiscite under UNO asking Kashmiris to choose between India and Pakistan.

·       Rejection of India’s claim that Kashmir is legally Indian Territory.

·       Acceptance of self-determination as governing principle for settlement of Kashmir dispute.

Plebiscite Administrator Chester W. Nimitz

On 22 March 1949, the UN appointed Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, as Plebiscite Administrator for J&K.

On 28 April, UNCIP formulated a program of demilitarization and issued a schedule for withdrawal of troops and fixing of demarcation line based upon factual positions occupied by two armies on January 1, 1949.

India demanded disbandment and disarming of Azad Kashmir forces as a condition for phasing withdrawal of Indian troops. Pakistan agreed to withdraw all Pakistani troops from Kashmir as soon as schedule of withdrawal of bulk of Indian forces was communicated.

Agreement to demarcate cease-fire line and stationing of UNCIP observers was signed on 27 July 1949.

India refused to submit her plan and rejected proposition of arbitration on 8 September. Negotiations over Kashmir bogged down since India insisted that unless all AK forces were disbanded and Pakistan withdrew its troops from occupied areas of Kashmir, no further talks were possible.

Another proposal of simultaneous withdrawal of Indian and Pakistani troops and reduction of State troops and AK forces was also spurned by India. Under non-cooperative conditions, it was not possible for Nimitz to hold plebiscite and he returned to Geneva.

Gen A.G.L. McNaughton Demilitarization Plan

After Nimitz, McNaughton was appointed to mediate. On 29 December 1949, he proposed progressive demilitarization leading to plebiscite, and appointing a UN representative to supervise it. Same was accepted by Pakistan but turned down by India.

Reason for India’s non-acceptance was that distinction between two forces legitimized concept of Azad Kashmir. India also insisted on detaining Indian forces after demilitarization.

In the face of divergent perceptions McNaughton had to give up as a bad job in January 1950.

Owen Dixon Formula

On 14 March 1950 Security Council adopted a resolution and appointed Owen Dixon from Australia as the UN representative on 10 April 1950 to mediate. Both Pakistan and India promptly accepted his nomination.

  Yahya Khan’s contributions in East Pakistan

Dixon suggested demilitarization of Kashmir before holding plebiscite. He proposed holding plebiscite in limited area consisting Kashmir Valley and adjacent areas, and division of rest of State between India and Pakistan. Jammu and Ladakh were to go to India and Gilgit, Baltistan to Pakistan.

His proposals were accepted by Pakistan but did not find favor with India since she viewed Pakistan as an aggressor.

Dixon concluded that India would not agree to any arrangement on demilitarization in which Indian troops were made to withdraw or any form of plebiscite unfavorable to India and hence departed.

Commonwealth Leaders Plan

Commonwealth Conference held on 16 January 1951 proposed withdrawal of forces from Kashmir by India and Pakistan and stationing of a Commonwealth Force in their place. Proposal was accepted by Pakistan but turned down by India.

Australian Prime Minister suggested keeping joint Indo-Pakistan forces as well and Plebiscite Administrator to raise local security forces to meet security and administrative needs. These were acceptable to Pakistan but unacceptable to India.

Frank Graham Proposals

Dr. Frank P. Graham was appointed as successor of Dixon on 30 April 1951.

On 7 September, he put forward a twelve-point proposal. Disagreement arose on quantum and disposition of troops and induction of plebiscite administrator. Based on the report, Security Council adopted a resolution on 10 November 1951.

In a meeting in Geneva in August 1952, both sides failed to agree on the question of powers of the Plebiscite Administrator and the matter had to be dropped.

India maintained that only Indian forces will remain on India’s side of the cease-fire line.

On 27 March 1953, Graham informed the Security Council that his efforts to break the impasse on Kashmir had failed. It marked the end of his mission.

Anglo – American Resolution

Anglo-American resolution introduced on 5 November 1952 suggested India to retain 12000 to 18000 troops and Pakistan to keep 3000 to 6000 on either side of the ceasefire line. This resolution was accepted by Pakistan but rejected by India saying that India wished to retain a minimum number of 28000 armed forces. In Azad Kashmir, it said that there should only be 4000 civil armed forces.

Gunner Jarring Efforts

In February 1957, Security Council decided to send the next UN representative Gunner Jarring of Sweden to find a way-out.

In September 1957, Pakistan offered to withdraw all Pakistani and Azad Kashmir troops from Kashmir if immediately replaced by UN troops. This proposal being very practical and reasonable was welcomed by Jarring but not by India.

Jarring’s abject failure waned the interest of Security Council and the matter was once again consigned to cold freezer till 1962. 

1962 Sino-India Border Conflict

During Sino-India conflict in 1962, in response to US and UK advice, President Ayub Khan decided not to exploit the situation in Kashmir and agreed to hold talks with India. Six rounds of talks were held between the two foreign ministers Swaran Singh and ZA Bhutto from 26 December 1962 to 16 May 1963 but proved fruitless.

India suggested a readjustment of ceasefire line to settle the dispute, which Pakistan rejected. Pakistan proposed a plebiscite confined to the Valley and placed under international control for 12 to 15 months prior to holding of the vote; or else, people’s wishes to be ascertained in some other form to settle the dispute. These were again rejected by India.

Simla Agreement. Simla agreement in 1972 changed the status of ceasefire line to LoC and policy of bilateralism was adopted, which suited India.   

International Court of Justice Mission in 1993

In 1993, ICJ recommended a plebiscite be held in Muslim majority areas. India rejected it saying it gave strength to ‘two-nation theory’. India labeled it as a blatant attempt to reactivate involvement of UNSC in Kashmir issue, since in her view UN resolutions had become obsolete after Simla Agreement and had rubbed off scope of any third party.

Ineffective UN. Our claim on Kashmir is based on at least 18 UNSC resolutions. Of the 18, four were adopted in 1948, one in 1950, two in 1951, one in 1952, three in 1957, five in 1965 and remaining two in 1971. Since then, the UN has practically withdrawn from the issue and no other resolution was adopted.

  May-2 offensive against Pakistan

In the last 65 years, the only role the UN played was to affect a cease-fire in January 1949 and posting of UN observers along the cease-fire line, later on converted into LoC in 1972.

Role of USA

Although the US initially tried to play the role of a facilitator to make two sides sit and talk; its focus has been primarily on the ‘LoC as the international border’ solution. Conflict management, and not conflict resolution, appears to be the goal of Washington.

After 9/11, Islamic terrorism has penetrated deep into the psyche of Americans. Pakistan is viewed as a dangerous country because it has a frail economic base and unbridled Islamic extremism. They fear nuclear weapons might fall into wrong hands.

President Obama who had initially raised high hopes has now stated in clear terms that the US will not play any role in the resolution of Kashmir conflict since it is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan.

Sole super power has not for once admonished India not to trample human rights in Kashmir or in other parts of India where insurgencies are raging. India’s communal extremism and nuclear proliferation are also looked the other way.

Russia. Former Soviet Union at the behest of India frustrated all attempts of the UNSC through its veto. It is still the prisoner of its past on supporting Indian stand on Kashmir but is no more as committed as it used to be in its hey days.

China. It has explicitly stood by Pakistan and Kashmir issue. It will however be reluctant to vociferously support our stance on Kashmir on the basis of human rights violations and right of self determination since the same principles are being promoted for Tibet. Sensitivity of Sinkiang and fast growing economic ties with India would keep her restrained.

European Community. Some North European nations want South Asia to follow their examples in conflict resolution like Eland Island case, Trieste case and the Andorra case. Britain and Germany have always expressed their willingness to facilitate a dialogue between India and Pakistan but none have agreed to mediate. None including US want to apply the formula applied in East Timor and the division of Sudan in Kashmir.

Muslim Ummah. Muslim world is a house divided rived in own problems and stands on a weak wicket. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey are the only Muslim countries pledging moral support but none is in a position to resolve the dispute.

International Community. Because of India’s size, economic market and military prowess, apathetic international community has chosen to ignore India’s blatant human rights violations in Kashmir and its hegemonic policies. Pakistan rather than India is advised to exercise restraint.

India’s diplomatic success

India has refused to recognize validity of UN resolutions on Kashmir. As a matter of policy she considers Kashmir to be a resolved issue and its integral part.

India has been successful in painting Kashmiri freedom fighters seeking right of self-determination as a bunch of terrorists aided and abetted by Pakistan.

In view of India’s enhanced importance, USA and other western powers have bought her stance on Kashmir and have repeatedly warned Pakistan not to support terrorists in Occupied Kashmir or to house them or train them on its soil.

Kashmiris Left Out

Kashmiris have somehow been given no relevance in the dispute. They were not considered a party at UNSC discussions nor were they thought fit for inclusion in the Tashkent talks after the 1965 war. Policy of bilateralism was accepted at Simla in 1972 over the heads of Kashmiris.

Differing views within Kashmir

Within Kashmiris, various groups view the problem differently. After splitting of APHC, moderate group led by Mirwaiz Farooq say that after 9/11, stratagem of dispute resolution by means of force had become redundant. They argue that dialogue process should be given a chance and call for a solution beyond UN resolution. They seem quite inclined to abdicate plebiscite demand.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani faction and some others strongly feel that self-determination through fair and free plebiscite under the UN is the only way to solve the tangle and feel that slogan of peace is a deception.

  Afghanistan: Trilateral Talks

Both factions want to secede to Pakistan and are not inclined to the option of independence.

JKLF insists on independent Kashmir. 

Idea of United States of Kashmir floated by Sardar Abdul Qayum was seconded by Mirwaiz.

Sardar Sikandar advocates Chenab Formula in which even Jammu and Ladakh become part of Pakistan.

Peoples Democratic Party’s President Mehbooba Mufti proposed ‘self-rule’ in all regions of erstwhile J&K state.

Gen Musharraf floated the idea of dividing Kashmir into seven regions and tackling each separately.

In the entire gamut of proposals offered by various groups in Kashmir, none want to have any sort of linkage with India. Puppet government in occupied Kashmir is the only one desiring alignment with India, but has no credibility among the Kashmiris.

Pakistan’s Hands Skillfully Tied

We in Pakistan and in Kashmir fervently seek UN supervised plebiscite under the blissful belief that the result will be in Pakistan’s favor.

Pakistan’s alliance with the US led coalition to combat global terrorism has made it handicapped to provide assistance to beleaguered freedom fighters in occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan has been charge-sheeted on multiple charges, putting it on the defensive.

With onset of peace talks with India, it has become difficult for Pakistan to indulge in effective propaganda campaign to highlight Indian security forces brutalities in Kashmir.

The world is not prepared to listen to Pakistan’s side of the story that India’s growing military prowess will pose a danger to world peace.

Fear of crossing ‘Indian tolerance threshold’ and being declared as a terrorist State inhibited our leaders to support Kashmiri uprising boldly as opposed to what India had done in case of former East Pakistan crisis.

Only course of putting meaningful pressure on India through a low intensity proxy war by the freedom fighters and jihadis has also been given a deathblow after enforcement of new laws on terrorism.

India has never been penalized by USA to force her to abide by UN resolutions or to curb human rights violations in Kashmir.

Pakistan hands have been skillfully tied and India given a free hand to crush freedom movement in Kashmir, particularly with fenced LoC, all Jihadis bridled and Kashmiri freedom fighters left high and dry to face the military might of Indian soldiers.

Some Hard Realities

UNSC has proved to be an ineffective body, selective and subservient to USA.

Bilateralism is a big farce to keep the issue under the carpet.

Ongoing composite dialogue is meant to buy time.

Once India becomes a recognized world power, resolution of core disputes would not be possible through peaceful or military means.

No amount of sweet talk would make India budge from its stated position. In India’s view, Azad Kashmir is the only dispute, which they are prepared to grant to Pakistan provided LoC is converted into permanent border.

Proponents of peace talks favor making LoC irrelevant by softening it and consider it as a possible solution.

Practical solution that Pakistanis may accept is partition on communal lines, which would imply that Kashmir Valley would also come to Pakistan.

With nuclearisation of South Asia, settlement of Kashmir issue by force is no more valid. Sooner or later, a political solution has to be worked out.

Whatever the solution arrived at, it would prove fruitful only if it is acceptable to all three parties to the dispute. No lasting solution can be found without concurrence of Kashmiris.

Kashmir would remain ablaze as long as Kashmiris want it to remain on fire.

Public opinion across all divides in the Valley remains firmly committed to the concept of self-determination.

Sum Up

Time has come for India to stop seeking shelter behind empty rhetoric to prevent serious dialogue on resolution of Kashmir conflict. Gimmicks and deceptions will not work.

International community must rise from its slumber and listen to the shrieks of Kashmiris languishing in open prison for last 65 years and resolve this longstanding dispute. Kashmir has become a nuclear flash point. Unless the dispute is resolved, it may lead to nuclear war.

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