THE KASHMIR ISSUE At a Glance
The Kashmir issue, the bone of contention between Pakistan and India, has held the Sub-Continent hostage since 1947. The issue is also one of the oldest items on the agenda of the United Nations. For Pakistan, the Kashmir issue is not a territorial problem; rather, it is a human issue, relating to more than 13 million Kashmiris. Owing to its human dimension, the issue warrants an early resolution, so that the Kashmiri people can breathe a sigh of relief.
Some people think of the Kashmir issue as a complex problem. As a matter of fact, it is a simple issue, concerning the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, as enshrined in the resolutions of the United Nations on Kashmir as well as other international declarations. The Kashmiri people have to exercise their right to decide their fate as promised to them by India, Pakistan and the international community. Therefore, their participation in the process is a must. What is required is the will of the political leadership of the region. Pakistan has shown maximum flexibility in this regard. Now it is time for the Indian leaders to come forth and reciprocate.
The Kashmir issue has been described briefly in this brochure, enabling the readers to understand the basics in the shortest possible time.
HAMID NASIR CHATTHA
SPECIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PARLIAMENT ON KASHMIR
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THE KASHMIR ISSUE
Ensconced in the lap of the Himalayas, the State of Jammu &; Kashmir with an area of 84471 square miles, is surrounded by India, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan. The valley of Kashmir, a region of the State, is 85 miles long and 25 miles wide. Called a “Paradise on Earth, its serene, picturesque and bewitching beauty has entranced the prince and the pauper alike over the centuries. However, the history of its people is a sad story of sobs and woes. Their life remained a saga of poverty and oppression as the famous scholar Vincent Smith wrote: “Few regions in the world can have had worse luck than Kashmiris in the matter of government”.
The Kashmir issue, the oldest on the agenda of the United Nations, is an unfinished agenda of the partition of the Sub-Continent of India. The people of Kashmir, still groaning under the yoke of India, have a much longer history of struggle for freedom than the peoples of other parts of the Sub-Continent. The Kashmiris, who have been victim of suppression and were exploited by various despotic alien rulers, revolted in the 1830s. The Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, a warlord of the Sikh empire, crushed the revolt and skinned alive the Kashmiri leaders. Gulab Singh, who purchased Kashmir from the British Indian Government in 1846 for a paltry sum of 75,00,000 rupees added his own brand of barbarity in Kashmir. Similarly, his descendants were also no less cruel. However, the ambers of freedom, simmering in the hearts of Kashmiris, burst into flames in the 1920s and the 1930s also.
The State of Jammu & Kashmir was one of the 584 princely States of the Indian Sub-Continent. At the time of independence in 1947, Rulers of these states were advised by the then Viceroy to either join India or Pakistan, keeping in view the wishes of their peoples and the geographical location. The Kashmiri Muslims had two strong reasons to join Pakistan: their numerical preponderance (80% of the population) and geographical contiguity. However, the Indian leaders coerced the Non-Muslim Ruler of the State to accede to India (doubtful). The Kashmiri Muslims revolted, liberating a large tract of the State and established Azad (free) Government of Jammu & Kashmir. India ran to the United Nations for intervention, which rejected the Indian claim on the State and passed various resolutions, supporting the Kashmiris’ right of self-determination. The resolution of January 5, 1949 reads:
“The question of accession of the State of Jammu & Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite”.
The UN Security Council reiterated the right of self-determination of Kashmiris in various resolutions, including of 1951 and 1957, as reproduced below:-
“Observing that the Governments of India and Pakistan have accepted the provisions of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan resolutions of 13 August, 1948, and 5 January, 1949, and have reaffirmed their desire that the future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nation.
“....... the convening of a Constituent Assembly as recommended by the General Council of the “All Jammu & Kashmir National Conference” and any action that Assembly might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire State or any part thereof would not constitute a disposition of the State in accordance with the above principles”. (No: 91 – March 30, 1951)
“The final disposition of the State of Jammu & Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations”. (No: 122 – January 24, 1957)
India agreed to hold plebiscite in the State and its leaders made commitments at least more than forty times to this effect. However, they just wanted to gain time and were not sincere in this regard. They started talks on Kashmir whenever pressure was put on India and that again as a dilatory tactic. Pakistan and India fought three wars on the issue and in the wake of each, India promised to resolve the issue, but did nothing on the ground.
An inordinate delay in implementing the UN resolutions on Kashmir, repeated farcical, sham elections in the State as well as the wave of democracy, which swept the globe in 1980s, brought the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) on the streets, agitating for their right of self-determination. Since India endeavoured to kill their spirit for freedom by force, Kashmiris were compelled to take up arms. To break the will of Kashmiris, India has deployed over 7 hundred thousand soldiers fully armed and with unlimited powers under the draconian Kashmir specific laws. They have wreaked havoc there. The atrocities inflicted on the hapless Kashmiris have been documented by Indian and international human rights organisations, like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others.
The delegation of the European Parliament, which visited IOK, called it the most beautiful prison in the world. In its report, the delegation condemned in unequivocal terms the state terrorism against Kashmiris, urging the need for international human rights organisations to be given access to IOK and called upon the Indian government to allow better monitoring of all detainees. The delegation also recommended appointment of a Rapporteur by the European Parliament on Kashmir.
The Indian leaders usually make devious statements to hoodwink the international community. Some time the Indian leaders accuse Kashmiris of terrorism but, in fact, the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and other UN declarations permit people to fight for their right of self-determination. Therefore, the freedom movement of Kashmiris can’t be dubbed as terrorism. As far as the allegation of the cross border terrorism is concerned, Pakistan has repeatedly proposed to enhance the role of the UN Observers on the Line of Control (LOC), but India didn’t agree. The respectable burials and ever expanding graveyards in the occupied territory also speak volumes in support of their indigenous movement. Moreover, a foreign sponsored movement cannot sustain for such a long time as 18 years with equal zeal and unflinching commitment. Various analysts, Indian and international, have also repudiated the Indian claim.
India is also against third party intervention, stating that the issue can be resolved bilaterally under the Simla Agreement. The Agreement was signed on July 2, 1972, but India has done nothing to resolve the issue in the last 34 years, rather it has rebuffed all the overtures made by Pakistan to this effect. Moreover, the Agreement neither alters the disputed status of Kashmir nor precludes the role of the United Nations, as explained below:-
- Para 1 (i) of the Agreement – states that the UN Charter shall govern relations between the parties.
- Para 1 (ii) – does not exclude the UN for a peaceful settlement.
- Para 1 (iv) – refers to the Kashmir issue as the basic issue and cause of conflict between the two nations.
- Para 5 (ii) – protects the recognized positions of both Pakistan and India and differentiates the “Line of Control” from the international borders.
- Para 7 – describes the Kashmir dispute as one of the outstanding issues.
- Articles 34 and 35 of the UN Charter – empower the Security Council to investigate any dispute, without subservience to any bilateral agreement.
- Article 103 – obligations under the Charter take precedence over obligations under a bilateral agreement.
The issue is on the UN agenda. The presence of the UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan also confirms the UN involvement in the dispute.
Unprecedented atrocities perpetrated by the Indian security forces in IOK as well as the ever swelling military power of India have made the Indian Sub-Continent one of the most dangerous places in the world, as described by quite a few world leaders including former US President Bill Clinton.
India, which is jockeying for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council should remind itself about the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir, which it has persistently defied with impunity. Similarly, the world community should also recognize its responsibility under the UN Charter to resolve the Kashmir issue. If the UN resolutions on Iraq, Kosovo and East Timor can be implemented, why not the resolutions on Kashmir?
The world has shrunk and a regional conflict can engulf the whole world, especially because India and Pakistan are both nuclear powers. Therefore, the world community should not ignore the plight of the Kashmiris, who are writing their tales of woe in blood. It should come forward and stop the injustice meted out to them at the hands of the Indians. Dr. Martin Luther King very aptly remarked: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people”.
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS COMMITTED BY INDIAN TROOPS IN IOK
(FROM JANUARY, 1989 TO FEBRUARY, 2006)
Total Killings 90,776
Custodial Killings 6,817
Civilians Arrested 111,269
Houses/Shops Destroyed 105,143
Women Widowed 22,371
Children Orphaned 106,616
Women Molested 9,637
(Source: All Parties Hurriyat Conference)