UN Resolutions on Kashmir:Myths and Realities

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It is only after sifting the myths from realties that one realises the urgency for our leaders to seriously introspect and re-think their strategy for resolution of the ‘K’ Issue 

Not a single day seems to pass in Kashmir without someone from the separatist camp accusing the UN and international community for not doing anything to compel New Delhi to implement UN resolutions on Kashmir. Islamabad too fully endorses the Hurriyat’s demand for implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif once again raised this issue both at the UN General Assembly as well as his Washington visit. Unfortunately, since the Kashmir issue still continues to remain in limbo even after nearly seven decades it appears no one seems to have cared or listened to him. What exactly are the reasons for this sorry state of affairs?

We have been given to understand the Kashmir issue can be easily resolved if New Delhi implements the UN resolutions. We have also been told that even though New Delhi doesn’t have any valid reasons for refusing to implement the UN resolutions, it is still being obdurate and refusing to do so. However, if this is indeed the whole truth and New Delhi really doesn’t have any legal or moral justification, then how does one explain the failure of the UN and the international community to force India to implement UN resolutions on Kashmir? It appears most unlikely that the UN as well as the international community would remain silent spectators for nearly seven decades while India blatantly defied the UN mandate by refusing to implement the UN resolutions on Kashmir. Therefore, could it be possible that New Delhi may be having some very strong reasons for behaving the way it is! 

There is a fundamental contradiction between what is being told to us and what we are seeing in front of us that has left most of us confused. Our leaders have based the entire narrative of the movement in Kashmir solely on the UN resolution calling for plebiscite in J&K. However, neither the UN nor the international community is talking about holding a plebiscite in Kashmir anymore? Could this also be the reason as to why the movement for the ‘right to self determination’ seems to be going nowhere?  Therefore, if we are really serious about exiting this morass of confusion and taking the movement to the next level, then we must first separate some common myths from realities relating to the Kashmir issue.

* Myth #1 – Being a Hindu, the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir had already made up his mind to join the Dominion of India after partition.

* Reality– Authoritative sources now confirm that the Ruler of Kashmir was keen to opt for independence and was trying to build up internal consensus by getting the pro- Pakistan Muslim Conference and Pro- India National Conference onto a common platform. In a bid to gain time for the same, he on 12 August 1947 simultaneously sent telegrams to both the Dominions India and Pakistan requesting both for a ‘Standstill Agreement’. This was in accordance with the Indian Independence Act 1947 for seeking a guarantee of continuing all existing agreements as well as administrative arrangements till new agreements were made. Had the Maharaja wanted accession of J&K to India, he could have easily done so even before 15 August 1947 rather than get involved with ‘Stand Still Agreements’ and remain undecided till the tribal invasion in October1947 scuttled his plans.

* Myth#2-India obtained the ‘instrument of accession’ in its favour by pressurising the Maharaja.

* Reality – The Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir had not entered into any agreement with New Delhi till October 1947. So much so, that while Pakistan had signed the ‘Standstill Agreement’ with the Ruler of J&K, New Delhi had outrightly rejected this request of his. It was the tribal invasion of Kashmir in October 1947 that actually pushed the Maharaja into New Delhi’s lap and prompted him to seek Indian intervention. Therefore, there was actually no requirement for New Delhi to ‘pressurise’ the Maharaja as the Pakistan army’s orchestrated tribal invasion foreclosed all other options for the Maharaja. 

* Myth#3– Pakistan has always wanted settlement of the Kashmir issue in accordance with UN resolutions. 

* Reality– By refusing to vacate areas of Kashmir under its control despite the UN resolution on Kashmir decreeing so, Pakistan changed the perception of the Kashmir problem from an ideological issue into a territorial dispute. It further reinforced this viewpoint in 1965 when Pakistan army again tried to seize Kashmir by force. Then in 1999, it once again launched a military operation and occupied portions of India administered Kashmir (IaK) in Kargil. 

* Myth#4– India is legally bound to implement the UN resolution for determining the ‘right to self determination’ through Plebiscite.

* Reality – The UN resolution on Kashmir was passed by UNSC under Chapter VI of the UN Charter which is non-binding and has no mandatory enforceability as opposed to the resolutions passed under Chapter VII. Thus, despite what Islamabad and the separatists may claim, New Delhi cannot be compelled to implement these resolutions. Perhaps this is the reason as to why the UN and the international community have been unable to force New Delhi to implement the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir!

*Myth#5– India is avoiding implementation of the UNSC resolution on Plebiscite in Kashmir while Pakistan is going out of its way to ensure that UN resolutions on Kashmir are implemented.

* Reality– UNSC resolution of 13 August 1948 decrees that a plebiscite would be held in Kashmir only after the Commission’s resolutions were implemented. This envisaged withdrawal of all Pakistani forces from those areas of Kashmir which it had occupied in 1948. By refusing to do so till date, Pakistan has given India a legally tenable and diplomatically advantageous position of shifting the onus for non implementation of UN resolutions on Pakistan’s refusal to fulfill its pre-plebiscite commitment. 

* Myth#6- The principles applied to secure the accession of the erstwhile kingdom of Junagadh to India on the basis of a Hindu majority was not followed in the case of Kashmir which has a Muslim majority.

* Reality– In the case of Junagadh a plebiscite was held in February 1948 with 99% of the people choosing its accession with India. So, even if this plebiscite was completely farcical, by conducting it India ‘technically’ fulfilled its international obligations thus avoided criticism of any strong arm tactics that it may have used. By doing this it also conveyed the message to international community that New Delhi was not averse to the idea of a plebiscite being held in Kashmir provided that the UN stipulated pre-condition of Pakistan vacating PaK was fulfilled.

* Myth#7 – A Plebiscite as envisaged in the UN resolutions can still be held in Jammu and Kashmir.

* Reality– By granting non-Kashmiris the right to acquire land and settle down in PaK as well as ceding portions of PaK to China, Pakistan has virtually foreclosed this option. New Delhi has cleverly adopted the technically sound stance that ‘since the geography and demographics of the region have been permanently altered,’ Resolution 47 (calling for Plebiscite) is now obsolete.

It is only after sifting the myths from realties that one realises the urgency for our leaders to seriously introspect and re-think their strategy for resolution of the ‘K’ Issue. Putting all our eggs in the UN resolutions ‘basket’ may not make very good practical sense for two reasons- the first, these resolutions cannot be enforced and the second, with Pakistan allowing non Kashmiris to settle in PaK and ceding a portion of it to China, the preconditions for going ahead with a plebiscite can no longer be met. The international community views Kashmir as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan which requires no third country intervention. Therefore, what is the use clamouring for the implementation of UN resolutions?  Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to focus on ways to get the derailed Indo-Pak dialogue process back on its tracks!

Author is a New Delhi based writer. She can be contacted at: <niloofar.qureshi@yahoo.com

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