The Islamabad Security Dialogue conference was addressed, among others, by Pakistan’s army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa also. He discussed the emerging challenges in international security under the theme “Comprehensive Security: Reimagining International Cooperation”.
His tentative proposal for peace with India suggested trilateral talks involving India, Pakistan and China to create an inclusive peace.
Bajwa’s desire for a peaceful solution of the Kashmir dispute is very significant in light of recent political changes in Pakistan. The Shahbaz Sharif government has reinstated the nawaz-Sharif –era Tariq Fatemi to the foreign office. Fatemi is a robust advocate of lasting peace with India.
Because of China’s support, Pakistan was able to convince the United Nations’ Security Council to discuss the India-Pakistan Question about the disputed Kashmir in an en- camera session on August 16, 2021 .
“The India-Pakistan Question” was first placed on the UNSC’s agenda on 22 January 1948. But it had been lying dormant on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council since December 1971.
China’s initiative has potentially significant implications for India. Be it observed please that China was represented permanently in the UNSC by the Republic of China (Taiwan). After replacing Taiwan from the UNSC, China became very assertive with regard to “The India-Pakistan Question”. To counter India’s actions during the December 1971 India-Pakistan war China cast its first veto against the admission of Bangladesh to the UN in August 1972.
India’s unilateral annexation of the disputed Kashmir
Abrogation of the statehood (Article 370) of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir State, and the Kashmiris hereditary rights (Article 35A) violated the UN”s directive that the status of the state should not be altered. Even a section of jaundiced media in India expressed ennui at India’s might-is-right initiative. The Hindu dated August 6, 2019 commented in its editorial “Scrapping J&K’s special status is the wrong way to an end”:
“The special status of J&K was never meant to be permanent, but it should not have been scrapped without wider consultations. …Additionally, the State is being downgraded and divided into two Union Territories. The mechanism that the government used to railroad its rigid ideological position on Jammu and Kashmir through the Rajya Sabha was both hasty and stealthy. This move will strain India’s social fabric not only in its impact on Jammu and Kashmir but also in the portents it holds for federalism, parliamentary democracy and diversity. The BJP-led government has undermined parliamentary authority in multiple ways since 2014, but the passing of legislation as far-reaching as dismembering a State without prior consultations has set a new low. The founding fathers of the Republic favoured a strong Centre, but they were also prudent in seeking the route of persuasion and accommodation towards linguistic and religious minorities in the interest of national integration.”
Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram commented, ‘The government cannot modify Article 370 by using another provision of Article 370. By doing so it made a “fatal legal error” and it would discover this in due course. The entire exercise of getting Article 370 of the Constitution effectively abrogated has been marked by executive excess’.
Not an integral part
It is obvious that the international community does not regard the disputed state as an integral part of India. There are several United Nations’ resolutions, mentioned heretofore, that corroborate that Kashmir is a disputed territory.
The UNSC Resolutions
Between January 1948 and December 1971, the UNSC adopted 17 resolutions on “The India-Pakistan Question” and endorsed the 1949 Karachi Agreement which established a cease-fire line agreed to by India and Pakistan, to be monitored by the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan.
On 6 January 1948 the UNSC invited both India and Pakistan to present their case. On 15 January 1948, Pakistan responded by expanding the scope of the issue to include Junagadh and the treatment of Muslims in India. On 17 January 1948 the UNSC adopted its first resolution on this issue, calling on both India and Pakistan to refrain from escalating the situation on the ground.
At the recommendation of the United Kingdom, the President of the UNSC (Belgium) was authorized to directly deal with two parties to find a solution by 20 January 1948. On 20 January 1948, Pakistan again requested that the scope of the issue be expanded to include Junagadh and the treatment of Muslims in India.
The Security Council adopted its second resolution on this issue on 20 January 1948. The resolution established a fact-finding UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) of three members (one nominated by India, other nominated by Pakistan, and a third designated by the Indian and Pakistani nominees) to visit the ground in respect of “the situation in Jammu and Kashmir State”.
On 21 April 1948, the UNSC adopted its third resolution on what it had decided to call “The India-Pakistan Question” on 22 January 1948. The resolution sought to restore peace and noted that both India and Pakistan desired that accession of Jammu and Kashmir to either India or Pakistan should be decided through a democratic plebiscite.
On 3 June 1948 the UNSC adopted its fourth resolution on this issue. This exhorted the UNCIP to visit the areas of where the conflict between India and Pakistan was taking place and reaffirmed its support for work of the Commission.
When India objected through a letter to the UNSC for mandating the Commission to look at issues not related to the Jammu and Kashmir Question, Taiwan persuaded the UNSC to convey to India that “what the Security Council did…was to tell the Commission to go ahead, to deal first with the Kashmir question, and then, when it deemed it appropriate, to study and report on the other three questions raised by the delegation of Pakistan”.
This resolution terminated the mandate of the UNCIP and called on India and Pakistan to execute a programme of demilitarization in the Jammu and Kashmir State. Subsequently, a UN Representative for India and Pakistan (Sir Owen Dixon) was appointed by the UNSC.
On 30 March 1951, the UNSC adopted its sixth resolution on the issue, proposed by the United States and the United Kingdom. It acknowledged the report of the UN Representative for India and Pakistan, Sir Owen Dixon, which conveyed that without agreement on demilitarization, the proposed plebiscite could not take place in Jammu and Kashmir “State”. The resolution accepted the resignation of Sir Owen Dixon and decided to appoint his successor.
Significantly, the resolution also took note of the proposal of 27 October 1950 to convene a constituent assembly in Jammu and Kashmir made by the “All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference”, and affirmed that such a constituent assembly would not substitute for the “will of the people” through a plebiscite.
Frank P. Graham was appointed subsequently to replace Sir Owen Dixon. On 29 May 1951, India conveyed to the President of the UNSC that the proposed constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir “is not intended to prejudice the issues before the Security Council or to come in its way”.
On 10 November 1951, the UNSC adopted its seventh resolution on the issue, which took note of Frank P. Graham’s report on the need for demilitarization before taking up the plebiscite and asking him to report within 6 weeks the results of his continued efforts. The report of the UN Representative dated 18 December 1951 was considered by the UNSC on 17 January 1952 .In its decision dated 31 January 1952 the UNSC referred to the UN Representative’s report of “almost insurmountable obstacles” for demilitarization in Jammu and Kashmir and extended his term by two more months to implement his mandate.
On 23 December 1952, the UNSC adopted its eighth resolution on the issue, asking both India and Pakistan to make extra efforts to agree on demilitarization in Jammu and Kashmir. It took note of the reports of the UN Representative dated 22 April 1952 and 16 September 1952, which proposed a 12-point plan for demilitarization, and called on India and Pakistan to “enter into immediate negotiations” to implement this plan.
Following the adoption of the resolution, the UN Representative met India and Pakistan in February 1953 in Geneva. This meeting ended on 19 February 1953 with the conclusion “in agreement with the representatives of the Governments of India and Pakistan” that “there was no ground left” to continue the meeting.
Illegal ratification by Kashmir Constituent Assembly
A second set of three UNSC resolutions were adopted in response to the ultra vires decision on 15 February 1954 of the puppet Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir to “ratify” the accession of the State to India. The “Constitution of the State” was adopted on 17 November 1956, coming into effect on 26 January 1957.
Adopted on 22 January 1957, it reflected the majority view of the UNSC that any action by the constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir would not “constitute a disposition” of the State according to the “will of the people” through a plebiscite.
The UNSC mandated Sweden as its President on 21 February 1957 to consult with India and Pakistan proposals “likely to contribute towards the settlement of the dispute”. UNSCR 126: Sweden had nominated Mr Gunnar Jarring to implement the mandate of UNSCR 123. The UNSC adopted a resolution on 2 December 1957 accepting the Jarring Report and asking India and Pakistan to act to implement previous resolutions on the holding of a plebiscite after demilitarization.
On 04 September 1965, the UNSC adopted its 12th resolution on “The India-Pakistan Question”. It called for an immediate cease-fire (1965 War) and for cooperation with the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to supervise the observance of the cease-fire.
This resolution mandated strengthening UNMOGIP to bring about a cease-fire to the 1965 War.
On 20 September 1965, after receiving the report of the UN Secretary General, the UNSC adopted its 14th resolution on “The India-Pakistan Question”. The resolution reiterated the demand for a cease fire and suggested that India and Pakistan use a third party as provided under Article 33 of the UN Charter to resolve their dispute.
On 22 September 1965, the UNSC was informed by its President that a cease fire had been agreed to by India and Pakistan. However, since the cease fire did not hold, the UNSC adopted its 15th resolution on “The India-Pakistan Question” on 27 September 1965 asking both countries to honour the ceasefire.
On 5 November 1965, the UNSC adopted its 16th resolution on “The India-Pakistan Question”. The resolution called on both countries to honour their commitment to cease fire and asked them to meet with the representative of the UN Secretary General to formulate an agreed plan for the cease fire.
The resolution focuses on the cessation of hostilities in Bangladesh and calls for the treatment of the Pakistani soldiers taken prisoner under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, while asking India and Pakistan to “respect the cease fire line in Jammu and Kashmir” supervised by UNMOGIP.
The plethora of UNSC resolutions confirms that Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed state. Both at the UN and back at home Nehru kept saying that the accession by the Maharajah or the accession by the puppet Kashmir constituent assembly does not amount to an accession by plebiscite as required by the UN. The UNSC itself forbade India from changing status of the state from the so-called accession by the puppet Kashmir assembly.
Nehru’s perfidious changing stands on UNSC resolutions
Avtar Singh Bhasin, in his book India and Pakistan: Neighbours at Odds has traced Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru’s perfidious ever-changing stands on Kashmir.Initially, Nehru forcefully expressed hisresolve that plebiscite was the only solution to determining the future status of Kashmir. He told the Kashmiri leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah that independence would be acceptable to him if the Kashmiri people so desired.
Bhasin says (page 73 ibid.), `On 7 August a day before his arrest, BBC reported a significant passage from his speech on the Martyrs’ Day in the previous month, which had been blacked out in the Indian press: `If I felt that by remaining independent, Kashmir would be well off, I would not hesitate to raise my voice in favour of complete freedom for Kashmir. If I felt that Kashmir’s betterment lay in its accession to Pakistan, no power in the world could silence my voice’.
Bhasin (page 63,ibid.) says Nehru addressed a lengthy letter to him[Sheikh Abdullah] on 25 August 1952 from Sonamarg, where he was then camping. He wrote, ‘If the people of Kashmir clearly and definitely wish to part company from India, there the matter ends, however we may dislike it ‘
Nehru banked on the so-called Instrument of Accession and its authentication by `Constituent Assembly. But in a strange quirk of volte face, Nehru declared, `after consideration of the problem, we are inclined to think that it [plebiscite] should be held under United Nations’ auspices (p. 28 ibid.). He reiterated in New Delhi on November3, 1951 that `we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar] as we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council, or the United Nations’(Selected Works of JawaharLal Nehru: Volume 4: page 292), Bhasin p.228). Again, at a press conference on June 11, 1951, he was asked `if the proposed constituent assembly of Kashmir “decides in favour of acceding to Pakistan, what will be the position?”’ he reiterated, `We have made it perfectly clear that the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir was not meant to decide finally any such question , and it is not in the way of any decision which may ultimate flow from the Security Council proceedings’ (SWJ: Volume 15:, Part II, page 394. Bhasin page 56). He re-emphasised his view once again at a press conference in New Delhi on November 3, 1951. He said `we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar as] we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council or the United Nations’.
Security Council disowned as just a non-binding mediator
It is flabbergasting that during the period 1947 to 1952, Nehru kept harping commitment to plebiscite. Then there was a sudden metamorphosis in his compliant attitude.
Bhasin points out that `there was a perceptible shift in his [Nehru’s] stand on July 24 1952` about the future of the State _ `if the decision of the Security Council was at variance with that of the Constituent Assembly’. Nehru said, `Unless the Security Council functioned under some other Sections of the Charter, it cannot take a decision which is binding upon us unless we agree to it. They are functioning as mediators and a mediator means getting people to agree (SWJ, Volume 19, page 241. Bhasin page 56).disadvantageous it may to India’.
By flouting the UNSC resolutions, India qualifies as a rogue state subject to sanctions. Including China in trilateral talks on Kashmir could lead to a durable solution. A a permanent member of the UNSC, China could agitate the “The India-Pakistan Question” again at a time and manner of its choice.