United Nations General Assembly has chosen the theme Adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations by peaceful means for discussion at its 67th session. Member States at the session shall have to speak or comment on issues of individual national and wider international relevance.
President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari addressing the UN GA session on Wednesday 26 September 2012 said, Kashmir remains a symbol of the failures, rather than strengths of the UN system. He added that Our principled position on territorial disputes remains a bedrock of our foreign policy. We will continue to support the right of the people of Jammu & Kashmir to peacefully choose their destiny in accordance with the UN Security Councils long-standing resolutions on this matter.
The substantive merits of this statement need to be examined. A reference to Kashmir at the session was unavoidable because the theme of the session. Kashmir had to be referred under the theme.
However, it is untrue that Kashmir is a territorial dispute and it is also untrue that it remains a bedrock of our (Pakistans) foreign policy since 19-23 June 1997 India Pakistan talks held at Islamabad. The talks on outstanding issues of concern, were held in an integrated manner. At this meeting Kashmir as a core issue slipped from its traditional grace and became as one of the eight outstanding issues. It was decided that Peace and Security including CBMs (confidence building measures) and Jammu and Kashmir, will be dealt at the level of Foreign Secretaries who will co-ordinate and monitor the progress of work of all the working groups.
Pakistan has developed a dual strategy to address Kashmir as a bilateral and territorial issue in all her bilateral negotiations with India and raises the benchmark of its posture at the UN by a reference to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. There is no merit in the latter benchmark because article 4.4.7 in AJK Constitution restrains the expression of freedom of expression.
In theory it may be true that, We (Pakistan) will continue to support the right of the people of Jammu & Kashmir to peacefully choose their destiny in accordance with the UN Security Councils long-standing resolutions on this matter. However, in practice it is untrue. Pakistan has not allowed the Provisional Government of the Republic of Azad Kashmir and its Provisional Declaration of 4 October and 24 October 1947 to function. It has not allowed the Azad Kashmir to take the administrative shape as set out under UNCIP resolutions.
The territory had to be administered by local authorities (State Subjects), that is, existing District Magistrates or sub-ordinate officers, according to the law and custom of the State as they existed before the dispute. Each District Magistrate was to be under the supervision of a United Nations officer. The current Constitutional arrangement and control under AJK Constitution Act 1974 is a negation of this claim.
Pakistans position on Gilgit and Baltistan is also at variance with the UN mechanism on Kashmir. In regard to these areas it has been proposed that Political Agents appointed by the United Nations should administer the territory.
It is equally untrue and without any basis that Kashmir remains a symbol of the failures, rather than strengths of the UN system. The various Governments in Pakistan and some elements in the Government have used Kashmir to fool the people of Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The evidence that the claim of Asif Ali Zardari is untrue is provided in the Security Council document S/1996/603 dated 22 August 1996. Para 2 of the UN SC Document states, The Security Council has decided that, as of 15 September 1996, matters which have not been considered by the Council in the preceding five years will be automatically deleted from the list of matters of which the Council is seized.
It was found that, Kashmir which being dealt as The India-Pakistan question had last been discussed at the 1251st meeting of the UN SC on 5 November 1965. In other words it had not been touched for about 31 years. The Hyderabad question had also not been discussed since 426th meeting of UN SC held on 24 May 1949. Pakistan was found wrong footed on the questions of Kashmir and Hyderabad.
Kashmir was hit by the simplification process conducted under rule 11 of the provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council and deleted from the regular agenda of the UN SC. Its integrity as a regular agenda item was hit for the first time in 48 years since January 1948.
However, para 3 of the UN SC decision came to the rescue of Kashmir case. According to this para, A matter will, however, be provisionally retained in the list of matters of which the security Council is seized for a period of one year if a Member of the United Nations notifies its objection to its deletion before 15 September 1996. If at the end of one year the matter has still not been considered by the Council, it will be automatically deleted.
It may be rightly argued that removal of a matter from the list of matters of which the Security Council is seized has no implication for the substance of the matter and does not affect the exercise by Member States of its right to bring matters to the attention of the Security Council in conformity with Article 35 of the Charter of the United Nations, yet the fact that the on-going integrity of Kashmir as a regular agenda item at UN SC for 48 years until 1996 has been dislodged and the issue has now become a subject of an annual reminder rule cannot be ignored.
If it were not civil society institutions like JKCHR, the fact that Kashmir had been hit under rule 11 of the provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council in 1996 would have been hushed up. The blame game for this negligence between the two Pakistan missions in New York and Washington is a public knowledge. However, JKCHR came to the rescue of Ambassador Ahmad Kamal based in New York and pointed out that the Government of Pakistan, its entire diplomatic machinery and the Government of AJK should take the blame rather than making one single diplomat a scapegoat.
On 27 August 1996, JKCHR tendered a legal representation to the UN Security Council, on the deletion of Kashmir from UN SC agenda. It urged upon the President of UN SC that the decision made under rule 11 of the provisional rules of procedure of the SC, had caused a serious prejudice to one of the basic principles – Article 1 (2) of UN Charter. On 30 June 1997 JKCHR made a five page representation to the Government of Pakistan and questioned its decision of making Kashmir an include in the eight other issues at the June 1997 India-Pakistan meeting.
It would be fair to say that Kashmir is not a territorial matter nor a bedrock of Pakistans foreign policy, any more. It is untrue to state that Kashmir remains a symbol of the failures, rather than strengths of the UN system. Various Governments in Pakistan and elements in charge of Kashmir in Islamabad have developed a serious interest of all manner in Kashmir. The broad spread of influence, control and money embedded in Kashmir subject have given birth to deals between Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Lucifer. People in Pakistan and Kashmir have been continually fooled on the subject of Kashmir. All is not well on the subject of Kashmir.
Author is Secretary General JKCHR, NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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