India –Pakistan war of words on Kashmir

The United Nations held a debate to discuss how to reform the Security Council by improving multilateralism. During the course of this debate Pakistan’s foreign minister mentioned the need for resolving the Kashmir dispute. His innocuous remarks were like a red rag to India’s external affairs minister. In his retort he did not explain why the United Nations has not been able to hold a plebiscite to resolve the dispute. Instead, he taunted Pakistan for Osama’s presence t Abbottabad (implying that Pakistan sheltered him). To tarnish Pakistan’s image, Indian media even flashed a talk with CIA’s former director Leon Panetta (he was grilled with Pakistan-bashing leading questions). The factual position is that Pakistan was unaware of Osama’s presence. At India Today Conclave, an interviewer expressed skepticism about Pakistan’s “feigned” ignorance. In his reply, Musharraf drew attention to the 9/11 incident. He asked why the United States with its most advanced intelligence agencies remained unaware of hijacking of airliners, their training at American soil, and their flight trajectory.

Irked by India’s external affairs minister’s reply, Pakistan’s foreign minister reminded that India’s prime minister Modi was “butcher of Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat’.

Bilawal Zardari-Bhutto’s remarks about the Indian Prime Minister Modi prompted the US State Department’s spokesman Ned Price to say “Washington does not want a “war of words” between New Delhi and Islamabad, but constructive dialogue.


It is India not Pakistan which is averse to dialogue. India’s view of Kashmir is untenable. Till about 1953, India continued to reiterate that the only solution to the Kashmir tangle is a plebiscite in accordance with the United Nations’ resolutions. But, then, it, all of a sudden, began to say that the United Nations’ resolutions are “mediatory”, not mandatory. India’s view violates the cardinal principle pacta sunt servanda, treaties have to be complied with. And, they are binding on parties.  

A bird’s eye view of perfidious shifts in India’s stand on Kashmir

The declassified Jawahar Lal Nehru’s papers speak volumes on India’s volte faces. Till about 1953, India continued to reiterate that Kashmir is a disputed territory. And the Kashmiri people will be provided an opportunity to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.

In about 1953, India took a volte-face saying that the United Nations resolutions on the dispute were of mediatory, not mandatory, nature.

India had given a “Special Status State “to the disputed territory. It abolished that status and annexed the territory as a Union Territory. By flouting international resolutions on Kashmir, India qualified as a rogue state subject to international sanctions. But, the international community prevaricated to punish India as they have throbbing trade relations with India. India uses its economic relations with countries as a coercive tool of diplomacy. India shrugged off

Security Council’s directives, forbidding India from taking any measure to forge ‘accession’ of the State.. Aware of India’s intention to get the ‘Instrument of Accession’ rubber-stamped by the puppet assembly, the Security Council passed two resolutions to forestall the `foreseeable accession’ by the puppet assembly. Security Council’s Resolution No 9 of March 30, 1951 and affirmative Resolution No 122 of March 24, 1957 outlaws accession or any other action to change the status of the Jammu and Kashmir state.

 Many a time, India and Pakistan went to fisticuffs to settle this dispute. Following their first war on Kashmir, both India and Pakistan accepted a ceasefire from January 1, 1949 under the supervision of UN observers. No UN resolution incorporates India’s view that maharajah had acceded to India. The main resolutions on Kashmir are (a) United Nations Commission for India Pakistan (UNCIP) Resolution dated August 13, 1948. Para 75 (Serial110) in Part III of this resolution states ` The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people and to that end, upon acceptance of the truce agreement, both Governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured. (b) The UNCIP Resolution dated January 5, 1949 Para 51 (Serial 1196) states ‘The question of accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.

On November 2, 1947, Nehru declared in a radio broadcast that the government of India was “prepared when peace and order have been established in Kashmir, to have a referendum held under international auspices like the United Nations.” (Chaudhri Mohammad Ali, The Emergence of Pakistan).

Till 1953, India was, at least verbally, committed to the plebiscite. But, in the subsequent period, it made frantic efforts to warp the United Nations Organization and woo the United States of America in her favour.

For instance, during the temporary absence of Pakistan’s representative India tried to get the `India-Pakistan Question’ deleted from the UN agenda. India based her plea on Security Council’s informal decision, dated July 30, 1996, about deleting dormant questions. The Question was deleted during the Pak rep’s absence but was restored to the agenda upon his arrival.

Again, at India’s behest, US Congressman Stephen Solarz elicited the statement from Bush-administration high-level diplomat, John H. Kelly, that plebiscite was no longer possible in Kashmir. To India’s chagrin, John R. Mallot, the US State Department’s point man for South Asia in 1993, corrected Kelly’s faux pas. He told the House Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Asia and the Pacific on April 28, 1993 that John Kelly ‘misspoke’ in 1990 when he said that the United States no longer believed a plebiscite was necessary for South Asia. Mallot clarified that Kelly made his comment after ‘continued grilling’ by the panel’s (pro-India) chairman, Stephen J. Solarz of New York.

Avid readers may refer to Solarz-Kelly’s conversation and corrective policy action taken by the US State Department in Robert G. Wirsing’s book India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute, published by Macmillan Press Limited, London in 1994. They may also see Mushtaqur Rehman’s Divided Kashmir: Old Problems, New Opportunities for India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri People (London, Lynne Reinner Publishers, London, 1996, pp. 162-163).

Let me quote from Avtar Singh Bhasin’s book India and Pakistan: Neighbours at Odds (page 69). `On 2 April 1950, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, India’s ambassador to the United States reported from Washington that the ‘domestic and foreign policy continues to deteriorate and public opinion as well the State Department seem for the moment to have made up their minds to all out in support of Pakistan. Nehru refused to wilt under the pressure of official or public opinion in the US. `Soon things almost came to a head. In July, Bakshi and Mirza Afzal Beg came to Delhi. The latter conveyed Sheikh Abdullah’s final views about the desirability of declaring Kashmir’s independence.

`The 15 July 1953 letter by Sheikh Abdullah to Nehru sounded like an ultimatum. Irked by the constant reminder to implement the Delhi Agreement and incorporate it provisions in the Constitution under preparation, Sheikh Abdullah told Nehru: `While recognizing the responsibilities and obligations that devolve on us by virtue of the Delhi Agreement, I would urge the corresponding commitments in regard to ascertaining the wishes of the people of the State may be fulfilled without any delay’. `He ended the letter with the remarks that endless discussions would serve no useful purpose.

Bhasin says on page 73, `On 7 August a day before his arrest, BBC reported a significant passage from his [Abdullah’s] 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.

Nehru hoodwinked Abdullah (page 63 of Nehruvian diaries). `Nehru addressed a lengthy letter to him [Sheikh Abdullah] on 25 August 1952 from Sonamarg, where he was then camping. After narrating the events since the accession of the State in October 1947, he went on to assure him of his commitment to the people of the State that the future would be decided by them alone, and if they wanted India to be put out of Kashmir, there would be no hesitation. 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 or however disadvantageous it may be to India.”

Concluding thoughts

Kashmir is a simmering nuclear tinderbox. There is no UNO resolution incorporating India’s volte-face that India-occupied Kashmir was acceded to India through the so-called state assembly’s resolution. By flouting United Nations resolutions, India qualifies as a rogue State. It should be subjected to sanctions.

Besides Kashmir, there are other unresolved disputes like annexation of Junagadh, Rann of Katch, and Kargil. These disputes also could not be resolved owing to India’s obduracy.

India’s former foreign secretary, J.N.Dixit is of the view that it is no use splitting legal hair. `Everybody who has a sense of history knows that legality only has relevance up to the threshold of transcending political realities. And especially in inter-state relations…so to quibble about points of law and hope that by proving a legal point you can reverse the process of history is living in a somewhat contrived Utopia. It won’t work’ (V Schofield, Kashmir in the Crossfire).

Amjed Jaaved
Amjed Jaaved
Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of seven e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes and other Issues in Focus (ISBN: 9781301505944). He holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law.