Kashmir: Relevance of UN Resolutions

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Views from Srinagar

Abdul Majid Zargar

VETERAN columnist and journalist Zaffar Mehraj has opined in an article that United Nations Resolutions on Kashmir have become irrelevant and people of Kashmir and its leadership should look for an out-of-box solution to the long festering problem.
The article appears in Daily Kashmir Monitor of 13th March 2017 and comes close on the heels of the statement of newly appointed UN Secretary General that he will be talking to senior officials of India and Pakistan about the situation in Kashmir and how things can be improved on the ground?
I have serious disagreement with him on the issue and hence this write-up. In the past also, few other people, including Hurriyat (M) Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat have talked of irrelevance of these resolution using different adjectives like ‘redundant’, ‘un-implementable’, ‘inapplicable’ etc. etc. with these resolutions.
Unfortunately, none of them have advanced a cogent and convincing reason as to how these resolutions have become irrelevant or redundant?
For record it is stated that neither the UN charter nor any convention or precedent thereof sets forth any circumstance or situation in which UN resolutions become redundant.
It however, goes to the credit of Zaffar Meraj to provide a subtle hint for his opinion of irrelevance when he says that UN stopped its active involvement in the affairs of India and Pakistan post Simla Agreement between the two countries following 1971 war.
Probably he wants to convey that the Simla agreement has made these resolutions irrelevant.
Be that as it may, other factors which people have in mind while talking of redundancy or inapplicability of UN resolutions in the present circumstances are “long time gap of seventy years”, “political diversity in the State”, “continued bloodshed”, “entrenched interests of India & Pakistan” etc. etc.
Looking closely at these metaphors or narratives it will be seen that these have mostly been given by politicians at different times to advance their own political objectives, of which 1975 Accord is the classic instance.
As against this no world leader or institutional head has said that the resolutions have become redundant. A good example of that is the statement of former UN chief Ban Ki Moon in India in the past that Kashmir dispute should be solved in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiri people which essentially is what UN resolutions are.
Had UN resolutions become redundant, its head, current or former would have no right or locus standi to make a mention of it? The presence of UN sub-offices in both parts of Kashmir further testifies to the fact that UN still considers J&K State as disputed territory and its solution in the resolutions passed by it.
It may be recalled that soon after the present Hindutva government assumed power in New Delhi in 2014, it made frantic attempts to wind up UNCIP office from India. But it failed miserably in its attempts.
Coming specifically to the relevance of UN resolutions vis-a vis Simla Agreement, let it be noted that Clause 1 of the Simla Agreement binds the two countries to continue to be governed by UN charter.
Article 103 of the UN charter provides that in the event of a conflict between the obligations of the members of the United Nations under the present charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present charter shall prevail. In other words, UN directions, resolutions or covenants have an overriding effect over bilateral agreements. There is another aspect to it.
UN resolutions specifically provide Kashmir issue to be settled in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir. This essential ingredient of ‘wishes of Kashmiris’ is missing in Simla Agreement and hence by no stretch of imagination can Simla agreement be deemed to have overtaken UN resolutions.
For those of us who advocate finding some out of box solution to the dispute, it is emphasized that this mode of solution also emanates or springs out from UN resolutions.
Pakistan and India are bound to find a solution, out-of-box or otherwise only because they are obliged to find one under UN resolutions.
China and India have a running border dispute in Arunachal Pradesh. Similarly Punjab and North Eastern states demand separation from mainland India but no country in the world, least of all UN tell them to find a solution only because these disputes are not UN recognized.
In our case, if we tweak or remove the background of UN resolutions from the dispute, we lose the whole case and our position will be reduced to a beggar begging before India and Pakistan to find a solution without any legal, moral or international sanction behind the demand.
In vernacular it amounts to ‘Rahi Khuda deetow kencha’ (For God’s sake give us something) The UN resolutions allowing self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir remain absolutely valid and provide a basis for settlement of the lingering dispute.
The passage of decades cannot obscure the value of the UN Security Council resolutions, which clearly call for addressing the dispute in accordance with the will of the people.
In no way it means that we should give up efforts to find an out-of-box solution. The real question is what to do about Kashmir, and the simple answer is to ask the Kashmiris what they want to be done to them and that is what the resolutions are.

—Courtesy: RK
[abdulmajidzargar@gmail.com]