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UN-scrambling Pakistan's Kashmir stand

April 18, 2001

The Pioneer
April 18, 2001

UN-scrambling Pakistan’s Kashmir stand
Anil Kumar Singh

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s plain speaking in ruling out the implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir and establishing a separate UN Human Rights Commission for Kashmir is not merely a vindication of India’s stance but a snub to Pakistan as well. 

Mr Annan’s retort came on March 11, in the first lap of his four-nation tour of South Asia. Saying that a lasting solution to the problem lay in implementing the Lahore Declaration, Mr Annan counselled both India and Pakistan to retain the spirit of Lahore Declaration, which would require restraint, wisdom and concrete constructive steps from both the sides.   

Explaining why the UN resolutions on Kashmir could not be implemented on the lines of the resolution on East Timor or Iraq, Mr Annan said that there were two types of UN resolutions: those falling under chapter seven and others under chapter six of the UN charter. Resolutions on Kashmir, which fall under chapter six, are essentially about peace making and wherein both the parties to the dispute agree to UN intervention. A resolution under chapter six can also be rejected by either party without involving any sort of punitive action.

For long Pakistan has been harping on the 1948 Resolutions on Kashmir, nursing the ambition of amalgamating Kashmir with Pakistan. Following Mr Annan’s thought on the subject, both the military establishment and political parties in Pakistan feel deprived of the backing they thought was their due.

The 1948 Resolutions on Kashmir have lost both their validity and relevance. The conditions envisaged in those resolutions no longer exist. As per these resolutions, Pakistan was to withdraw its troops before a plebiscite could be held. But since Pakistan did not follow this directive, the Resolution was rendered meaningless.

Another significant factor is that the very identity of the original complainant, Pakistan, had undergone a change in 1972 when its eastern part was dismembered and emerged as a sovereign entity now called Bangladesh. Thus, the very theory on which the subcontinent was partitioned became redundant. Besides, the UN resolutions were superceded by the Shimla agreement which converted the ceasefire line into the line of control. Then Pakistani Prime Minister Bhutto, who negotiated the Shimla Agreement, was willing to convert the LoC into international border but wanted time to prepare domestic opinion for the conversion. However, Pakistan went back on it.

As far back as in April 1957, the then UN Representative for Jammu & Kashmir, Gunner Jarring, in his report to the Security Council, commented: "The Council will furthermore be aware of the fact that implementation of international agreements of an ad hoc character, which has not been achieved fairly speedily, may become progressively more difficult because the situations with which they were to cope has tended to change.”

Since 1957, except for one debate in 1964, the issue of Kashmir never came up before the Security Council. Former UN Secretary General Boutros Ghali was even anxious to delete it from the Council’s list of pending disputes, since as per UN rules, matters not considered by the Security Council for a period of five years are not to be incorporated into its agenda.

Pakistan managed to place the Kashmir issue on the agenda, subject to an annual review. It counted on Western support; hence it retained the Kashmir bogey during the Cold War as Western support was forthcoming. However, the post-Cold War era has thrown up new power configurations, where Pakistan has lost its strategic value for the West. But military establishment in Pakistan does not seem to have reconciled to these ground realities.

As for ascertaining the will of the people, since the State’s accession to India, Kashmiris have cast their lot with India forever. They express their will through elections held every five years and today the State is governed by a democratically elected government. Islamabad, for its part, has never given even a single opportunity to the people of POK to express their will freely.

Thus, Mr Annan’s plain speaking comes not only as a rude shock for Pakistan but it also pours cold water on its manoeuvres for projecting Pakistan as the "core problem” of South Asia. Pakistan’s Chief Executive General Musharraf had been playing up the UN resolutions on Kashmir to whip up anti-India sentiments in the country. The Pakistani people have been fed with false propaganda that the world body was deliberately discriminating against Pakistan by appeasing India.

These developments have obviated the theory of third party intervention. The United States has already been counselling Pakistan against the logic of intervention, asserting that there was no logic in it if one of the partners to the conflict was reluctant to outside mediation. Pakistan has turned a deaf ear to all such logic and continued its attempts to rope in one big power or the other for support. Now General Pervez Musharraf seems to have exhausted all tactical manoeuvres.

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