ASIAOPINION

Kashmir conundrum

By Mahnoor Qureshi

Being the oldest bone of contention between India and Pakistan, Kashmir has gained gargantuan consideration. Both Pakistan and India confronted each other for this disputed territory, but the issue is still on the table. Under the Independence Act 1947, Kashmir was free to accede either to India or Pakistan, but Hari Singh due to fear of Pathans, sent by Pakistan to loot and plunder people of Kashmir showed affiliation with India against the will of Kashmiris. They entered Kashmir from North and started jihad against oppressors of Islam.  (According to the letter sent by Hari Singh to Mountbatten on 26th October 1947)

India offered two choices:

  1. Merge Kashmir into India
  2. Fight with invaders alone

Hari Singh accepted their first offer.  India sent its military troop into the valley and pushed back invaders.  Pakistan took control of parts beyond Muzzafarabad and established its government there.

Prime Minister Nehru after independence decided to go to the United Nations for stopping Indian troops to not to go further to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir as they were facing a lot of resistance from another side of the border. In a broadcast from New Delhi on 2 November 1947, said:

We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given, and the Maharaja has supported it, not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not, and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and law and order have been established to have a referendum held under international auspices like the United Nations. We want it to be a fair and just reference to the people, and we shall accept their verdict. I can imagine no fairer and juster offer.

Since 1945 Kashmir is stuck between two nuclear powers who claim their right to the territory, this chaotic scenario demands the attention of UN and international community. In early years after independence UN was active to resolve the dispute of both states over Kashmir. In January 1948, the Security Council adopted resolution 39 (1948), establishing the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to investigate and mediate the dispute. In April 1948, by its resolution 47 (1948), the Council decided to enlarge the membership of UNCIP and to recommend various measures including the use of observers to stop the fighting. In July 1949, India and Pakistan signed the Karachi Agreement establishing a ceasefire line to be supervised by the military observers. On 30 March 1951, following the termination of UNCIP, the Security Council, by its resolution 91 (1951) decided that UNMOGIP should continue to supervise the ceasefire in Kashmir. UN Security Council passed several resolutions for cease fire, which was implemented but the other two resolutions; withdrawal of security forces, a plebiscite for Kashmiris will join either Pakistan or India were not implemented.  Relation of mistrust prevails in both states; mediator in this issue must be neutral. UN didn’t play a neutral role in solving the issue. However, the US has shown neutrality, with little success on this issue.

In recent Past, Pro-independence movements increased in Kashmir, and they are looking towards UN. Hundreds and thousands of people protested in front of UNMOGIP office and raised slogans of “Stop Genocide of Kashmiris, Intervene UNO.”  Separatist leadership presented a memorandum to UNMOGIP for intervening in Kashmir issue.

Meanwhile, UN is giving more attention to issues like Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea nuclear program and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and different types of disasters. In this situation, Kashmir is unable to catch much attention.

In recent past, High Court of Srinagar rejected the Indian claim on the territory of Jammu and Kashmir. But still barbarous attitude of Indians towards Kashmiris’ have seen by the world. In recent two decades, almost 47,000 Kashmiri have lost their lives in battling for a free homeland. 106,000 structures destroyed, 107,000 children orphaned and 10,000 women raped and molested by Indian military troops in Kashmir. Different groups and people like Hurriyat Rehnuma are striving to get independence from Indian Occupation in Kashmir.  Increasing influence, violence and violation of human rights by Indian army is forcing Pakistani and Kashmiri youth to resort to militancy.

Of and on border clashes and firing at line of control (LOC) has become the practice in both the states which affected a larger number of civilian populations.  In recent years, bilateral relations have become more chaotic.

In India, nationalist government takes decisions, but their military has carte blanche from the government to respond strictly in case of any disturbing situation from Pakistan.

Whenever Pakistan has raised Kashmir issue in UN, India responds by accusing Pakistan as Terrorist state and sponsoring terrorism in the region. As Miss Swaraj in her speech said:

I can only say that those accusing others of human rights violations would do well to introspect and see what egregious abuses they are perpetrating in their own country, including in Baluchistan.

Rejecting Swaraj’s allegations Maliha Lodhi claimed that:

We took in initiative to resolve issues not on the basis of conditions, but on the basis of friendship…. The attack on the Indian army base in Uri, particularly its timing, has all the hallmarks of an operation designed to divert attention from India’s atrocities in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

In such disturbing scenario resolving Kashmir issue and maintaining good relations between Pakistan-India is of great importance. Following steps should be taken to effectively resolve Kashmir issue.

  • Trade between India and Pakistan should be promoted to create a mutual dependence, which would assist them in addressing the Kashmir issue. India’s foreign minister has said, “Improved trade ties with Pakistan could spur on an ongoing peace process and help resolve the Kashmir issue.” Exports and imports must be increased between these two neighbors through Kashmir for prevailing peace.
  • Contacts between India, Pakistan, and Kashmir must be increased regarding peaceful talks, visits and other multilateral agreements. At unofficial level, there must be student exchange programs for maintaining trust and support local public contact as well as for advancement education in both the states.
  • Kashmir issue must be solved through peaceful negotiations and without coercion and violation of line of control. There must be a common ground for negotiations in which Kashmiris decides the fate of their territory.
  • For resolving the conflict fair plebiscite for Kashmir issue is of great importance.
  • The government of both the states India and Pakistan should stop their political and moral support to insurgents in Kashmir.
  • There must be relaxation for Kashmiris to move freely in Indian occupied Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

India and Pakistan should adopt sound measures to resolve the conflict and needs to do more for making Kashmir a sovereign nation. Both states should stop claiming their right to the territory as it creates chaos and disturbance in disputed area. India is pre-occupied with the problem of militancy, insurgency, terrorism, and agitation in the Valley for the past six decades While Pakistan is spending more than 3 /4th of its GDP on the maintenance of huge troops on the Kashmir border. So, an independent Kashmir is in the best interest of both states and the south Asian region as a whole.

Mahnoor Qureshi is studying international relations at Bahria University, Islamabad, Pakistan.

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