Over a period of time conferences on Kashmir within and outside Pakistan have gained much notoriety. However, there is no substitute for engagement and free expression in settling disputes. I was one of the Key Note speakers in the first session of a One Day International conference with ‘Kashmir: An Unfinished Agenda of Partition’ as its theme on May 7, 2018 in Islamabad. The conference was organised by the Islamabad based think tank Pakistan House. President of Azad Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan was the chief guest in the first session. Chairman of the Board of Governors General Ehsan-ul-Haq, DG Rana Athar Javed and their team in Pakistan House were good hosts.
Our general understanding of the Kashmir case at the UN is quite flawed. The reality is far from what has been revealed to most people. Unless we have a full knowledge about UN Resolutions and the stand of various member nations during the debates on Kashmir, we cannot be of any service to the Kashmiri people.
UN Representative for Kashmir Dr P Graham in his report submitted at the 570th meeting of UN Security Council on 17 January 1952, UN Representative for Kashmir Dr P Graham has presented the Kashmir case as follows; firstly, the people of Jammu and Kashmir, are worthy of the right to self-determination through a free, secure, and impartial plebiscite. Secondly, Graham has presented four elements of the Kashmir case; namely, rights and dignity, the security and the self-determination of these historic people. We have misdirected ourselves and have latched on to the component of self-determination only. The failure to uphold the three important elements of rights, dignity and security, has remained an error of judgement. When we ask for rights, dignity and security; the demand for self-determination emerges as a natural consequence.
Many at the conference did not seem to be aware that had we been able to keep the time table for a plebiscite proposed by United Kingdom at the 284th Meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on April 17, 1948, there would have been a Plebiscite between May 1948 and October 1948. If we had accepted the advice of Colombia as member in the Commission and appointed President of the International Red Cross as Plebiscite Administrator, and not gone for the American citizen Admiral Nimitz, the plebiscite process would have been done between 1949 and 1953.
The Indian army has been conducting demographic and psychographic profiling of Kashmiris. Could it be to identify those who oppose Indian rule and have them killed? Why does India need to be so aggressive in Kashmir?
If the PM of Kashmir had not rescinded travel restrictions on March 31, 1959, Indian citizens would have continued to enter the state on a visa or entry permit even today. If Pakistan had accepted the British proposal to go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November 1947 and the United States (US) had kept its course and gone to ICJ in August 1951, the Indian occupation and demands for Kashmiri accession would have been declared invalid.
Pakistan was only three months old and did not have the reliable experts that it has today to take up the offer to go to ICJ in November 1947. We have continued to misunderstand the status of the case. Kashmir is not a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan. The Pakistan government in its joint statement with India, after June 19-23, 1997 talks at Islamabad made an error of judgement in disturbing the core position and accepting Kashmir as an include with eight other pending issues with India. The correct interpretation has been made by Great Britain at the 284th meeting of the UN Security Council on April 17, 1948. The United Kingdom has said that the “Kashmir dispute is the greatest and gravest single issue in international affairs”.
UN provides for a bilateral engagement on Kashmir. However, the US has stated that any conclusions arrived at in bilateral discussions should be “just and consistent with the principles of UN Charter”. The disagreement on a Kashmir referendum has not been correctly understood. It is being interpreted to prejudice the merits of the Kashmir case. At the 566th meeting of the UNSC held on November 10, 1951, the Netherlands made an important statement on the question of disagreement.
Its representative stated, “The lack of agreement therefore, does not concern this right of self-determination. It concerns the ways and means and procedures to establish the conditions for a fair expression of the will of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir who want to make their choice free from any kind of fear or intimidation.”
Our understanding about the accession with India is also flawed. There is no accession with India at this point. India surrendered the state’s conditional accession at the UNSC on 15 January 1948 for a UN supervised vote. Meanwhile, the Indian army has been conducting demographic and psychographic profiling of Kashmiris. Could it be to identify those who oppose Indian rule and have them killed? Why does India need to be so aggressive in Kashmir? The answer is provided by the Quebec referendum. This referendum for independence failed because of a shortfall of 54,288 votes. The Indian Government wants to continue with its unprovoked killing of Kashmiri youth and create and exploit the number deficit during any future referendum in Kashmir.