Trilateral dialogue between governments of India, Pakistan and leadership of Kashmir – without any precondition – is only way to resolve Kashmir issue
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai
The writer is the secretary general of Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum.
Oct. 27 marks the beginning of Indian occupation of the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is forever scarred in the collective minds of the Kashmiri people as the day they became occupied.
The Kashmir conflict began in 1846 with the illegal, immoral and inhumane sale of the historic state of Jammu and Kashmir to a non-Kashmiri Dogra family for services rendered to the British Raj. From that point onwards, the Kashmiris have long for self-determination. Yet, tragically, their legitimate aspirations were crushed with the grotesque, irregular and illegal ascension by the brutal foreign ruler Maharaja Hari Singh who did not have the consent of the people. With the arrival of Indian soldiers, the historic Black Day of Occupation begins its most recent and insidious manifestation.
The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir obtained independence on Aug. 15, 1947, when British paramountcy lapsed. At that moment, under international law as understood by Indian National Congress, the Muslim League and Great Britain, sovereignty in Kashmir devolved on its people, not its autocratic Maharaja. Indeed, Kashmir was beset by wholesale domestic revolt against the Maharaja when independence arrived, and widened in the initial months thereafter. To save his despotism from collapse, the Maharaja requested the assistance of the Indian military on Oct. 27, 1947, after ostensibly signing an Instrument of Accession to that nation. British scholar Alistair Lamb has convincingly demonstrated that the Instrument of Accession was as bogus as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or the Donation of Constantine. An original has never been found, and there is no plausible explanation for a disappearance if an original had ever existed.
The people of Kashmir are constantly reminded of the resolution 47, adopted on April 21, 1948 that states that the future status of Kashmir must be ascertained in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of the territory. This resolution was agreed upon by both India and Pakistan, negotiated by the United Nations and accepted by the Security Council.
Ambassador Warren Austin of the US said it the best in the Security Council on Jan. 24, 1948: “…When India accepted the accession of Kashmir, it made its act stand for a great principle by stating as a part of the acceptance that it was conditional on fair plebiscite being held to determine the will of the people of Kashmir with respect to accession. I think an example was made in history at that point.”
India, however, was soon undeceived of its delusions over Kashmir’s political yearning. Recognizing that its people would never freely vote accession to India, it contrived excuse after excuse to frustrate a plebiscite. When the UN proposed arbitration, a reference to the World Court, or any other method of resolving minor demilitarization quarrels, India nixed them all. After a few years, it dropped all pretense of acceding to a referendum by unilaterally proclaiming its annexation of Kashmir. India’s proclamation has never been accepted by the UN, which continues to list Kashmir as a disputed territory with its future status yet to be determined by its people.
History proved British Prime Minister Clement Richard Attlee wrong when he said on Nov. 7, 1947 that “…he (Pandit Nehru) undertook that the will of the people should be ascertained, and he proposed that this should be done under the authority and supervision of the United Nations…I can’t believe that Mr. Nehru’s pledges have the sinister implications.”
India’s creepy design was also confirmed by Bertrand Russell who said in 1964 that “the high idealism of the Indian government in international matters breaks down completely when confronted with the question of Kashmir.”
So, a false narrative was concocted by India, out of nothing more than thin air, in a vain attempt to intellectually subjugate people. This challenge is most serious, because it resonates even today with more vigor. How often do we hear outlandish statements like, “Kashmir is an integral part of India”? These statements do not exist in a vacuum. They are loaded and violent. This form of violence is more insidious, more difficult to confront, as it is attempting to indoctrinate Kashmiris about their past, their present and direct them to a future that does not belong to them. They had become the objects of history rather than the masters of it.
Another serious challenge that people of Kashmir face is when attempts are made to confine the Kashmir dispute to a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan as if Kashmiris were inconsequential. This charade of sorts represents an outrageous attempt to restrict discussions of Kashmir to India and Pakistan, to the exclusion of the most important party to the conflict – the people of Kashmir. Today, this strikingly ignorant political strategy has collapsed after the abrogation of Article 370 & 35 A on Aug. 5, 2019 and no longer is considered an honest initiative for resolving the Kashmir dispute. It has not achieved any of its desired objectives of bettering relations or resolving Kashmiri aspirations for self-determination. It is evident that this policy has proven a colossal failure. If, in more than 73 years, the “bilateral masquerade” has produced nothing more than cheap photo opportunities, then it is better once and for all to put this show to an end.
The world powers and the saner elements in both India and Pakistan need to realize that the bilateral talks between India and Pakistan have always remained barren. And trilateral dialogue between the governments of India, Pakistan and the leadership of Kashmir – without any precondition from any side – is the only way to resolve the issue of Kashmir once for all. Participation of Kashmiri leadership in the dialogue process is the sine qua non that will help to achieve the lasting peace and tranquility in the region of South Asia.
In fact, a “Kashmir Quartet” should be established that includes Kashmir, Pakistan, China, and India. Moreover, outside intervention and mediation should include the UN. The chairmanship of the Kashmir Quartet mediation should be undertaken by a person of international stature, such as Kjell Bondevik, former prime minister of Norway, or former President Mary Robinson of Ireland.
Today, the challenge before us is that a new generation in Kashmir has been raised with blood and tears for whom death no longer poses a threat as what can death do that life has not done before: their suffering is freeing them from fear. Kashmiris’ fearlessness has led to the powerful protests and the largest demonstrations in recent years. The presence of hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Srinagar, marching towards the office of the UNMOGIP, UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, is a proof that the freedom struggle is not a terroristic movement but a movement that is indigenous, spontaneous, peaceful, and popular.
Now is the time that Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, brings the situation in Kashmir to the attention of the Security Council under the provision of Article 99 of the UN Charter. It is here in the region of South Asia that not two but three nuclear powers have been eyeball to eyeball for the last one year. The Article 99 authorizes the secretary general to “bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.” If not now, then when can Article 99 be invoked to bring peace and stability to the region of South Asia?
The UN secretary general should listen to Ernest Gross, US ambassador to the UN who said in the Security Council on Dec. 5, 1952, that we feel it is the role of the Security Council to assist the parties in seeking to reach agreement.
So, now is no time for complacency or temporizing. And the chilling suffering and misery of the Kashmiri people continue every day a peaceful resolution is deferred.
* Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.