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The United Nations failure in the Indo-Pak Bump: Causes and Consequences

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Authors: Najma Hashmi & Sofia Abdul Qayyum

The word ‘bump’ means ‘rivalry’ or ‘conflict’. The acronym elucidate the situation of contention between two different poles of power or opinion. This bump can be seen in the Indo-Pak relations and the recent episode of Pulwama terror attack in February 2019 further proved the narrative. There are many outstanding issues contributing into this bump but the issue of Jammu & Kashmir is a root cause of Indo-Pak dyad.

Before the Pulwama attack many other incidents greatly increased the gravity of tensions between the two nuclear rivals. The antagonism threw them into three full-fledged wars and in a limited conflict over Kargil in 1999, but the issue of Kashmir remains the point of persistent rivalry. As we have observed that Kashmir is a primary cause of contention between India and Pakistan, then it is necessary to probe that to what extent Kashmir is contributing in Indo-Pak bump and what role the UN has been playing in conflict resolution?

The rivalry over Jammu & Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint between India and Pakistan which pushed the two states into direct wars. If we examine the history then we came to understand that conflict started soon after the partition of India in 1947 as the dispute over former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which consequently escalated three wars between India and Pakistan and several other armed skirmishes. The first ever war was broke out in 1947 and ended in 1948 by ceasefire resolution of the United Nations Security Council. This ceasefire resolution divided Kashmir into areas controlled by Pakistan and India respectively by” ceasefire line”.

 The second indo-Pakistani war was fought from April 8 to September 23, 1965. This war was terminated by the Tashkent declaration. The primary battlefield was Kashmir and in this war Soviet Union played the active role of mediator. An India-Pakistan meeting was held in Tashkent on January 4, 1966. This declaration brought a short sighted peace through ignoring the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir which again brought the two nations into battlefields in December 1971. This war was largely fought in East Pakistan, but the conclusion of war was the dismemberment of Pakistan now known as Bangladesh. In early years of independence, the United Nations has played the active role to resolve the dispute but the geopolitical factors and irredentist behavior of India did not brought any fruits.

A forth mini war was started between India and Pakistan at Kargill, the line of control. The wars fought by India and Pakistan were aim to integrate Kashmir through military means but went fruitless. If we observe the rivalry of indo-Pak in theoretical context then the IR theory of realism explain that states are rational and always preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity. The anarchical International system compel states to maximize their military power to ward off threat of aggressor states and leave little room for negotiations and peaceful relations. The security dilemma derive foreign policies of nation states as it allow them to balance of power of rival state. Meanwhile the preservation of territory is another prominent feature of realist school of thought. The realists claim that the concept of modern nation states is based on territorial gains and states are selfish in this case. So the case of India and Pakistan rivalry over Jammu and Kashmir dispute can been seen with realist lens.

Contrary to realist school of thought, liberals argue that although anarchy exist in international politics and states are rational for sovereignty, but the conflict can be managed through international organizations and economic interdependence. So in the light of liberal point of view we can say that arbitration or third party involvement is one of the method to resolve the conflict. In Kashmir conflict the major involvement for the conflict resolution is the role of United Nations. The United Nations is an international organization with objectives to maintain world peace and security through mediation and dialogue. So here it is necessary to investigate the role of UN in the Indo-Pak rivalry.

The United Nations intervened in the conflict in 1948 at the request of India and managed a ceasefire in the first war. From 1948 to 1971 the UN passed 23 resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir dispute. The first UNSC resolution was passed on 17 January 1948 urging Indian and Pakistan for restraint. Three days later the Security Council passed another resolution creating the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan to investigate the dispute and to start mediation between the two countries led by the British and the United State, but failed to reach on conclusion. Later on January 5, 1949 the United Nations came with a new plane for a plebiscite. This time the UN proposed that the State of Jammu and Kashmir should be given under the full control of plebiscite administration and administrator enjoy quasi sovereign power over the state of Jammu and Kashmir but the proposal was rejected by the Indian side.

Another effort was made in December 1949, when the President of UN Security Council tried to be a mediator between India and Pakistan but failed to manage an agreement between the two sides. All these attempts of UN failed to solve the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan. The early years of conflict witnessed the active role of UN but the earlier enthusiasm was lost in late sixties and seventies. This time the UN only passed resolutions condemning the Indian atrocities in Jammu & Kashmir and urging two sides to resolve the conflict through dialogue. Before reaching on any conclusion, it is necessary to probe that what are the possible factors behind UN failure to resolve the dispute.

There are the several reasons of UN failure in Kashmir. At first, the UN has no proper enforcing power for the implementation of its decisions. Unlike the national governments, the UN is dependent on major powers for military and policing tasks and the restive national interests of major powers sometimes make difficult for UN to deploy forces in a given situation and the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir is an example of competing national interests of major powers. Secondly, being a major regional power, India has more voice on regional and international forums which gives enhance its capacity to reject the UN proposals for conciliation. Another reason is the geopolitics of major powers particularly the United States. The geopolitical struggle and the military economy restrain the United States to play any affective role in the conflict resolution. Fourth is the Indo-U.S strategic partnership to contain the rising China. The United States cannot afford Indian anger while playing constructive role in Kashmir conflict. The core interest of U.S. is to maintain healthy relationship with New Delhi to secure its national interests in the wider Indian Ocean region.  Last but not least is the UN dependence on its member states to maintain its functions. The financial and human dependence on the U.S. and India hamper the United Nations efforts to resolve the conflict. Therefore, the above mention scenario reveal that the near future will not witness the major role of UN in the resolution of Kashmir conflict.

Authors are Graduate Students of International Relations at Women University of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Bagh Pakistan

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South Asia

India’s Constitutional Revocation and Prevalent Security Environment of Kashmir

Haris Bilal Malik

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During Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first ever visit to the US on July 23, 2019, President Trump had offered to mediate the outstanding Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan. This move was greatly appreciated by Pakistan with President Trump publicly stating that Prime Minster Modi had requested him to mediate between the two countries over Kashmir during the sidelines of 2019 G20 Summit held in Osaka in June this year. With President Trump’s offer to mediate at such a crucial time, the issue has once again achieved global significance. Moreover, President Trump’s mediation offers, and India’s recent move constitutionally revoke the special status offered to Kashmir would likely have serious implications within the prevalent security environment throughout the region. 

India has often rejected such offers claiming Kashmir as its internal matter. Taking a step forward, on August 5, 2019 the government of India revoked the special status of the Kashmir region that has been previously granted under Articles 370 and 35(A) of the Indian constitution through a presidential order. Referred to as the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill that was later approved by parliament despite the opposition’s criticism. Under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution the Kashmir region had been awarded special constitutional rights and a ‘so-called’ autonomous status of decision making. Following the abrogation of Article 370, the Kashmir region would be divided into two ‘Union Territories’ i.e. Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh governed by the Indian central government.

The timing of this constitutional abrogation might have been influenced by President Trump’s offer of mediation between India and Pakistan that was reiterated by the US President despite India’s rejection. This abrogation was also part of the Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election manifesto as promised by Prime Minister Modi during the 2019 general election. By fulfilling this electoral promise, Mr. Modi is trying to assert that Kashmir is entirely an internal matter for India and that it would not allow any third country to interfere in the Kashmir issue irrespective of its relations with India.

Based on this notion India is inclined to project this political and constitutional change as its internal matter. By revoking the special status of this disputed region, India also intends to change the demography of Kashmir as much of the current population is Muslim. India has been involved in various tactics to change the demographic structure of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) which includes a steady stream of Hindu migrants relocating and settling in masse from other parts of India in this predominantly Muslim region.

This trend is also evident in the region’s population numbers. In 1947 for instance, the Muslim population of IOK was about 79 per cent. As of 2018 this figure has been reduced to 68 per cent. In this regard the abrogation of Article 35(A) would likely intensify this trend as in the future, non-residents of Kashmir would be able to purchase property in Kashmir and would become permanent residents with a right to vote. 

The security environment of Kashmir has been at stake in recent years due to India’s desire to oppress the freedom movement militarily. During Prime Minister Modi’s first term from 2014-2019 the Kashmiri freedom struggle has seen greater military suppression, especially since 2016 when a prominent freedom fighter Burhan Wani had been brutally assassinated. However, it seems that India has still not succeeded in achieving its desired objectives. After a landslide victory in the 2019 elections and with Mr. Modi once again in office as Prime Minster, the military suppression of the freedom movement in Kashmir has further intensified. Recently, India has deployed an additional 38,000 paramilitary troops in the region to join more than half a million troops and paramilitary forces already present. Along with this increased military presence in Kashmir, India has also been involved in continued aggression across the Line of Control (LoC) as evident by its use of prohibited ‘cluster bombs’ against the civilian population. These could have seriously provoked Pakistan to respond in an offensive way and might have resulted in another February 2019 episode.

At the present, Indian aggression along the LoC poses a major threat to peace in the region. India might believe that it could carry out a limited attack or ‘surgical strike’ against Pakistan which would stay below Pakistan’s nuclear threshold as evident from the February 2019 military engagement and the recent attacks along the LoC. India has repeatedly attempted to dominate the escalation ladder as was shown in the recent escalation instance the recent escalation following the Pulwama attack. Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned about the possibility of a ‘false-flag operation’ in Kashmir carried out by India for which Pakistan might be blamed. Based on such blame India could launch a limited attack or a low intensity conflict across the LoC. Consequently, Pakistan would be left with no choice but to respond in kind to any such aggression by India.

India’s abrogation of Kashmir’s special constitutional status and its military offensive in Kashmir could trigger another politico-military escalation between India and Pakistan within a year. India’s policy to forcefully make Kashmir an integral part of the Indian Union by annexing it through political and military means would serve a very dangerous precedent which would likely pose as a serious detriment towards the peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute. This change in the constitutional status of Kashmir would greatly limit the prospects for third-party mediation in the future especially for the United Nations, whose resolutions on Kashmir clearly provide a right of self-determination to decide Kashmir’s future. Unfortunately, the prevalent security environment in Kashmir is dominated by India’s aggressive behavior which ultimately would have long lasting implications for strategic stability throughout the South Asian region.

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China- Pakistan: Centaur of Friendship

Sabah Aslam

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China has been always quotes as an all-weather ally to Pakistan. This mark is not been achieved in a day. Pakistan and China have always been close companions to each other whether its diplomatic or economic fronts. The “deeper than oceans” bond was initiated in 1951 when Pakistan was on the list of first countries who had recognized People’s Republic of China after it officially ended its ties with Taiwan, officially known as Republic of China. Ever since the two countries have actually proven themselves to be iron brothers. Whether it is socio-economic sphere or any issue of national, regional or global importance, the two have stood by each other through thick and thin.

This bond was further strengthened after Beijing launched its Belt and Road Initiative with China Pakistan Economic Corridor as its flagship project. CPEC had been no less than a soothing drug to the maltreated economy of Pakistan. China provided Pakistan with the much needed co-operation specifically in the areas of power generation and infrastructural development. Whereas Pakistan provided China with an alternative route for its trade across the globe that was shorter and beneficial from all aspects.

However, this resolve to cooperate is not limited to bilateral level. China has always supported Pakistan on issues of regional and global importance. This was even acknowledged by the Prime Minister of Pakistan on BRF this year too. He said, “I want to thank China and its leadership for their unwavering support for Pakistan.”

During the recent scenario where India unilaterally scraped article 370 and had illegitimately taken Kashmir under Delhi’s control directly, it was China who rendered its full support to Pakistan’s stance. According to a report of China Daily, China strongly opposes the Indian act of inclusion of Kashmir. China has also urged India to act in accordance with the bilateral ties with Pakistan and with China on the issues of administrative jurisdiction. 

Nevertheless China had also assisted Pakistan in internationalizing the issue of Kashmir, rebuking India that it is not an “internal matter”. China had backed Pakistan’s request for holding a UN Security Council’s meeting to resolve the matter.  The South China Morning Post, called Kashmir “a flashpoint in ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbors”.

Considering the volatile situation, UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Friday, August 16, 2019 with Kashmir Issue as the only agenda point. The meeting was called specifically for Kashmir for the first time after 1965. Chinese Ambassador, Zhang Jun later spoke to media and once again urged the two-parties to refrain from taking any unilateral action that can aggravate the situation and take measures to solve the issue in lines with the UN resolutions.

In 2018, Donald Trump had tweeted threateningly where he accused Pakistan of “nothing but lies and deceit” and fooling US leaders. Trump also announced that he would not provide any further aid to Pakistan. China once again came out to stand for its strategic partner. China urged the global community that the world should acknowledge Pakistan’s “outstanding contribution” as it has made huge efforts and sacrifices to fight terrorism.

Previously, China had defended Pakistan despite the rage, which the decision had received. In March this year, India had requested UNSC to brand Masood Azhar, the leader of an organization already banned by Pakistan, as a global terrorist. The move was vetoed by China, China’s Foreign Minister said that they need more time and decided to put a technical hold. 

China had also stood by Pakistan when back in 2015 it supported Pakistan’s engagement with Nuclear Suppliers Group and expressed hopes for Pakistan’s attainment of membership. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying had replied to a reporter regarding Pakistan’s aspirations for NSG saying China wished to strengthen cooperation with Pakistan.

Despite the fact that in international relations there are not permanent friends but the bond which Beijing and Islamabad shares has turned the caps. This bond without any doubt is based primarily on mutual benefit and respect but there is more to it too. China supports Pakistan and had supported Pakistan even in times of despair. It took decades long cultural, diplomatic and economic understanding to carve this centaur of friendship between both nations. Islamabad needs to enhance its diplomatic understanding with Beijing as recent diplomatic bustle over Kashmir clearly showed the allies.

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Kashmir Once Again Playing out as Diplomatic Theatre at the United Nations

M Waqas Jan

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Friday’s closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Jammu and Kashmir marked the first time in over 50 years since the issue was discussed at the world’s foremost diplomatic forum. This issue which has long remained at the center of India Pakistan tensions recently received fresh impetus following India’s unilateral decision to withdraw the special status awarded to the region. This was followed by a widespread clampdown in the form of an indefinite curfew as well as a media and communications blackout that is currently in its second week.

Consequently, the above mentioned UNSC meeting on Kashmir forms a key component of Pakistan’s diplomatic offensive following India’s actions. As such, it represents a highly interesting case of diplomatic theatre where the anticipation of possibly resolving or bringing about at least some semblance of positivity to a long-festering conflict has generated considerable interest the world over. This includes interest from both the international media as well as several observers and diplomats as a possible precedent for a consensus driven approach to conflict resolution in general.

However, the lack of any meaningful outcome or even a joint statement directly arising out of this meeting has led to an almost perverse battle of sorts over optics and narrative between key stakeholders, which aims to leverage the UN’s significance as a platform for international consensus. Especially with a view towards placating an international audience’s expectations of what is just or right, the absence of a joint statement following this meeting has led to a vacuum that has resulted in even greater discord regarding this issue. Thus, instead of a collective decision or stance taken on the issue by the UNSCC, what was instead witnessed was China and Pakistan presenting their cases for international mediation at one end, and India insisting on the issue remaining an internal matter at the other.  This for instance was clear in the press statements given by each of these countries’ representatives following the end of the UNSC meeting.

Against a backdrop of the UN Security Council and speaking in a microphone carrying the white on blue letters of the ‘UN’, Chinese ambassador Zhang Jun was the first to state that all the UNSC members were gravely concerned at the human rights situation in Kashmir and that there was general agreement that all parties concerned should refrain from taking any unilateral action that might aggravate the situation further. He went on to state that as per China’s stance on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, the status of Kashmir was still undecided and that it should be resolved via peaceful means in accordance with the UN charter, the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions as well as the bilateral resolutions pertaining to it.

Pakistan’s representative to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi whose remarks closely followed the Chinese Ambassador thanked China for lending assistance in her country’s request for calling the UNSC meeting. She pointed out that the fact that the meeting was held was itself a major diplomatic victory and that the voice of the Kashmiri people, despite all attempts to silence it was heard at the world’s highest diplomatic forum. She stated that this meeting was the first step taken as part of a protracted and drawn out struggle for justice for the Kashmiri people which Pakistan remained fully and vociferously committed to.

Considering how both the Chinese and Pakistani ambassadors while speaking in quick succession nearly echoed each other’s policy stances on this issue, it was as if they might as well have written each other’s statements themselves. Many observers in the media had later pointed out that the statement given by the Chinese ambassador was in fact a version of a potential joint statement that was to be ideally given by the president of the UNSC. However, since other P5 members had raised reservations regarding its wording and assumptions of the UN’s role in mediating the conflict, it was presented instead by Ambassador Jung as China’s position on the matter, to which Ambassador Lodhi had voiced her approval. 

Both their stances however stood poles apart from the statement given by India’s permanent representative to the UN, Mr. Syed Akbaruddin. Given after a brief interlude to the previous two statements, Mr. Akbaruddin explained how following China and Pakistan’s statements he was self-admittedly compelled to present his own country’s stance on the matter. The gist of it was that India’s move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s Special Status was wholly an internal matter. That it remained committed to resolving its issues with other countries bilaterally and that it was saddened by Pakistan’s approach of using violent jihad and terrorism as a precursor to any potential negotiations. In a characteristic show of one-upmanship that has remained a hallmark of India and Pakistan’s interactions at the UN, Mr. Akbaruddin also made a flamboyant point of taking questions from Pakistani journalists with whom he at one point even came forward and shook hands with as a gesture of his country’s willingness to engage with Pakistan. All while repeating India’s decade old stance that Pakistan stop terror in order to initiate talks.

Yet, considering the stage, setting and timing of the situation at hand, what the audience of journalists was in the end left with was a shrewd and knowing diplomat presenting a clear denial of the spirit of the UN. While employing his best smoke and mirrors it was evident that the press conference was being used by Mr. Akbaruddin as an opportunity to distract, disguise and deflect international opinion from the issue at hand. In essence, it presented another example of one of the many slick PR driven spectacles that are passed on for diplomacy at the UN these days. Yet, considering the lack of unity from the UNSC, and China and Pakistan having already attempted to leverage the stage and setting, can one really blame him?

For an organization that once embodied upholding the ideals of peace, justice and equality as its very raison d’être, it is extremely disappointing to see the UN’s own inaction and passivity reducing it to being nothing more than mere spectacle. Especially during a time where the world is increasingly plagued by strife and discord, seeing Kashmir being reduced to just another metaphor for such issues speaks volumes of the lack of direction and principles guiding global leadership in our world today.

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