The Prime Minister of Pakistan has asked India to take the first step and create an enabling environment for moving forward on Kashmir. Pakistan army chief General Bajwa in his keynote address at the first Security Dialogue held in Islamabad has invited India “to bury the past and move forward”. There is no other way forward. The Roman deity Janus may have an issue with this earnest desire to “bury the past”. There are inseparable attendant issues rooted in the past. The two Janusian faces are ordained to look into the backlog of the past and plan the future.
Nehru’s India has admitted at the UN SC that the “centuries of common living, culture and tradition incline us, in spite of the ephemeral recent happenings, to continue to develop the ties that bind us together”. The two countries need to reconcile to an environment of peaceful co-existence and to the principle of “equality of people” and the “right of self-determination”. Modi does not have an exit ramp.
The people of India and Pakistan need to be fair and accept the people of Jammu and Kashmir as the third people, until they exercise their right of self-determination through a UN supervised vote and embrace either India or Pakistan or as pointed out by Argentina at the UN SC “not to belong to either India or Pakistan, but to remain an independent State”. The Hurriet constitution adopted on 31 July 1993 has duly interpreted these three choices.
It is clear that India has lost its moorings in Kashmir and Pakistan has increased its constituency within and without the State and in the diaspora. It is for Pakistan to keep its constituency or to squander it. Engagements with India without a principal input of the Kashmiris would not help Pakistan. India has displaced five generations of Kashmiris and others living inside the State are subjected to a fierce repression.
Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai has made an important contribution in Daily Times titled “Kashmir & the role of the United States”. The wisdom needs to be examined. It is therefore necessary that we examine two other roles of the United Kingdom and Pakistan in resolving the question of “UN supervised plebiscite” in Kashmir.
We need to ask the Biden administration to dig out the document prepared in August 1951 by the Office of South Asian Affairs and Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs of United States on Kashmir titled, “Kashmir Dispute: Future Action
The people of Jammu and Kashmir only have a ‘past’ and the present has been devoted to undo the Indian occupation and render themselves free to embrace a future full of ‘rights and dignity’ and ‘security and self-determination’. Indian army has entered the State under a written agreement that it would protect ‘life’, ‘property’ and ‘honour’ of the people. Is it so?
It has in fact killed a generation in Kashmir and has destroyed the property and tarnished the dignity of Muslim men and women. If India listens to General Bajwa “to bury the past and move forward”, the people of Kashmir still have a case of reparation, compensation and war crimes against Indian Government. The pile of Indian sins and the resistance of the people is there. It is our duty to resurrect a case against India and against others countries, that have wronged the people of Kashmir. East Timor has done it and so can the people of Kashmir.
We have to move the cursor and refresh the screen of our memory and capture the full image of these wrongs. The Minority Report dated 16 December 1949 submitted by Czechoslovakia with the Third Interim Report of the UN Commission for India and Pakistan, reveals that an overwhelming Anglo-American interference and control of the work of UNCIP was responsible for the failure of UN efforts on Kashmir. This report questions the merits of the decision taken by UNCIP to cancel a scheduled meeting between India and Pakistan on 22 August 1949 in New Delhi. The Belgian and Czechoslovak delegation has accused the Commission of its failure to keep the secrecy of its work and has said, “If peaceful solution of the dispute is to be attained it has to be prevented that the Commission does not become an instrument of policy of certain Great powers”
Although the United Kingdom has admitted in her letter dated 7 January 1848 addressed to Maharaja that, “….it can never consent to incur the reproach of becoming indirectly the instrument of the oppression of the people committed to the Prince’s charge”, yet undoubtedly, British Government has ‘incurred the reproach of becoming the instrument of the oppression of the people” for the last 173 years. The images coming out of Valley from 5 August 2019 have aggravated this reproach. These images of military brutality, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of men, women, elderly and the youth, have shocked the Kashmiri diaspora, their sympathisers and good meaning citizens of Britain. There is a risk that allowing a no holds barred behaviour of Indian army in the Valley could wrong the good community relations in Britain.
There is no doubt that Britain wanted to have a Plebiscite in Kashmir by October 1948 and Pakistan wanted to have it in the spring of 1948. Britain had the snow fall in mind that could have hindered the participation of women and elderly. Britain is on record to have said that Kashmir was, “The greatest and gravest single issue in international affairs” and that “The ultimate objective of a fair and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations…has been written into solemn agreements by the two Governments and endorsed by the Security Council. These agreements have been affirmed and reaffirmed by the two Governments many times”.
We need to hold the British Government to its claim that, “We are very pleased to return to the Human Rights Council. And we will continue to uphold and defend the international rule of law and the rights and freedoms of people right around the world”.Britain has to live up to her statement by helping India and Pakistan to respect recommendations (s) and (j) made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in her report of 8 July 2019.
The new Biden administration has taken a fresh look of its foreign policy and after a spell of boycott US has returned to UN Human Rights Council. President Biden has a strong belief that United States should lead by the “Power of Example” and not by the “Example of Power”. Dr. P Graham the UN Representative for India and Pakistan and Admiral Chester Nimitz UN Administrator for Plebiscite in Kashmir, two eminent Americans had the key role in securing a demilitarization and conducting a UN supervised Plebiscite by first November 1951.
We need to point the US administration to the Colombian concern that if the UN SC had appointed the Swiss national, President of the International Red Cross proposed by India as the Plebiscite Administrator we would have been through a successful Plebiscite long ago. Colombia has recorded its concern that, “Instead of that, Admiral Nimitz waited for nine years in New York for an opportunity to organize the plebiscite. But these errors are delicate matters, because an apparent diplomatic victory, obtained at a certain time, served propaganda purposes, but in reality undid all the work the Commission had accomplished.”
We need to ask the Biden administration to dig out the document prepared in August 1951 by the Office of South Asian Affairs and Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs of United States on Kashmir titled, “Kashmir Dispute: Future Action”. United States was preparing to make a reference to International Court of Justice. It put the desire of going to ICJ on hold, fearing it might take considerable time. United States has said that UN SC had a “positive duty” and “unless the parties are able to agree upon some other solution, the solution which was recommended by the Security Council should prevail”.
It is time that United States in the interests of peace in the region revisits the five principles that it introduced at the Security Council to resolve the Kashmir case.United States has encouraged bilateral engagement provided that the agreementbetween the parties is consistent with the principles of UN Charter.
The writer is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations