Kashmir Issue: Myth & Reality

By Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai

Pointing out that (i) “India does conduct a ‘plebiscite’ every five years in the form of elections, nobody has ever questioned the elections in Kashmir as fake” and that (ii) “Kashmir is an internal matter of India” Mr. S. M. Krishna, the Foreign Minister of India ruled out any (iii) third party intervention. Earlier, Mr. P. Chidambaram, the Home Minister of India said that (iv) Line of Control could become an International Border and he also hinted that (v) autonomy could be an option.

Let us see how grounded these statements are. Both Mr. Krishna and Mr. Chidambaram need to be reminded of some historical facts.

Mr. N. Gopalaswami, Minister without Portfolio of the Government of India said at the United Nations Security Council on January 15, 1947, “We desire only to see peace restored in Kashmir and to ensure that the people of Kashmir are left free to decide in an orderly and peaceful manner the future of their State. We have no further interest, and we have agreed that a plebiscite in Kashmir might take place under international auspices after peace and order have been established. Everything that we have done has been in discharge of our legal, constitutional, and moral responsibilities and obligations.”

Mr. Gopalaswami further said that,” The question of the future status of Kashmir vis-à-vis her neighbours and the world at large, and a further question, namely, whether she should withdraw from her accession to India, and either accede to Pakistan or remain independent, with a right to claim admission as a Member of the United Nations – all this we have recognized to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir, after normal life is restored to them.”

The Indian Foreign Minister’s claim that the election in the Indian administrated Jammu and Kashmir are a plebiscite, clearly flout the UN Security Council resolution 91 of 1951 and resolution 122 of 1957 which clearly affirms “that the convening of a Constituent Assembly as recommended by the General Council of the ‘All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference’ and any action that Assembly might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire State or any part thereof would not constitute a disposition of the State in accordance with the above principle.” Therefore, Mr. Krishna’s assertion that an election in Kashmir is a substitute for plebiscite is the negation of India’s international obligations.

The only election acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir is one which will be conducted and supervised by an impartial agency like the United Nations and which will take place in an atmosphere free of coercion and intimidation.

Kashmir is not and cannot be regarded as an internal matter of India because under all international agreements, which were agreed by both India and Pakistan, negotiated by the United Nations, endorsed by the Security Council and accepted by the international community, Kashmir is a disputed territory and does not belong to any member state of the United Nations. If that is true, then the claim of Mr. Krishna that Kashmir is an internal matter of India does not stand.

Secondly, Ms. Helen Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand told the Parliament on October 15, 2004 “It is perfectly obvious to the whole world that Kashmir is a flashpoint for tensions between the two countries. Most countries do not regard it as simply an internal affair.”

As far as the third party intervention is concerned, there has to be the persuasion or facilitation by a third party to impress upon both India and Pakistan to include the genuine leadership of the State of Jammu and Kashmir in all future talks over the issue of Kashmir. The history of past sixty-three years testifies to the fact that the bilateral talks between India and Pakistan have been always fruitless. In fact any attempt to strike a deal between any two parties without the association of the third party, will fail to yield a credible settlement. The agreement between Sheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952; and the pact between sheikh Abdullah and Indira Gandhi in 1975; and an agreement between Farooq Abdullah and Rajiv Gandhi in 1980’s sought to bypass Pakistan, leaving the basic issue of Kashmir unsettled. Likewise, the Tashkent Agreement of 1966 between India and Pakistan; the Simla Agreement of 1972; the Lahore Declaration of 1998; the New York Joint Communiqué between President Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2004 sought to bypass the people of Kashmir and it resulted in a failure. So the time has come that talks need to be tripartite. The reason that talks must be tripartite is that the dispute primarily involves three parties – India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. But the primary and principal party is the people of Kashmir, because it is ultimately their future, the future of 15 million people of Kashmir that is at stake.

The Foreign Minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb said on May 4, 2010, “I think in an issue like Kashmir, it’s obviously quite clear that you have two parties, at least. And it thus takes two to tango.” “But if a bilateral solution has not been found in 60 years, then perhaps other avenues for a solution should be found.” “In almost all conflicts in this world… if you cannot find a solution among the parties concerned, you would never.” “It is also quite often true that without mediation from a third party you will never find a solution, I think Kashmir is an example.”

Offering the LoC as an international border is an absolute fallacy to begin with. This is also an ideal non-existent solution. One cannot imagine a better formula for sowing a minefield in South Asia that will lead them to a nuclear disaster. Kashmiris revolted against status quo and how can status quo becomes an option. Also, Kashmiris wish to emphasize that their land is not a real estate which can be parceled out between two disputants but the home of a nation with a history far more compact and coherent than India’s and far longer than Pakistan’s. No settlement of their status will hold unless it is explicitly based on the principles of self-determination and erases the so-called line of control, which is in reality the line of conflict.

The concept of autonomy for Kashmiris is an absolute non-solution.. Here you will have to rely on a provision of the Indian Constitution. All Constitutions of the world are subject to amendments and Indian Constitution is no exception. If not now, if not today, in the foreseeable future, the Parliament can delete this provision in the Constitution and the move will not even need a debate in the Indian Parliament. Kashmiris have had the experience of a limited autonomy, which was first practiced under a personal understanding between Nehru and Abdullah and later provided for by Section 370 of the Indian Constitution. It was eroded and eventually whittled away by the forces of circumstances.

A latest survey conducted by Chalthanham House, England, cited by the British Broadcasting Corporation on May 27, 2010 said that as much as 90 per cent of the people in Kashmir valley want “Azadi’ freedom. This survey reconfirms the two earlier surveys, one conducted by the Hindustan Times and CNN-IBN (2007) and second by the Monthly Outlook (2004), which said that 87 % and 78 % people of the Valley of Kashmir respectively want “Azadi”. Azadi means both rejection of the LoC as an international border and autonomy as an option.

The presence of a million peacefully protesting people on the streets of Kashmir gives a loud and clear message to the world powers including the United States that they will not accept anything short of “Azadi” freedom.

India has the audacity to seek the candidacy of the United Nations Security Council while as she is in contravention of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. We fail to understand how can the world powers, including the Obama Administration even considers to support a country like India to become a member of United Nations Security Council when she has been violating the very principles for which UN stands for? This will make mockery of the principles of the United Nations and of international obligations of a member country under the United Nations Charter.

October 4, 2010


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