A decisive UN role needed over Kashmir

Dr Muhammad Khan

EVER since India referred the Kashmir case to United Nations Organization on January 1, 1948, this world body has become a party to it, thus making it a multiparty dispute. Since India took the dispute to UN, but surprisingly, in later years (after mid 1950s), it tried to relegate the UN role over the resolution of Kashmir dispute. Since 1972, India even blocked the ‘United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to visit the Line of Control (LoC) for monitoring the ceasefire violations between the Indo-Pak militaries.
It is to be noted that, UNMOGIP was established in 1951, through UNSC Resolution number 91. It was in succession of UN Resolutions; 39 (1948) and 47 (1948), establishment and enlargement of United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to observe ceasefire in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier India and Pakistan signed Karachi Agreement, allowing supervision of ceasefire line by UN Observers in March 1951. Since its establishment in 1951, UNMOGIP has been performing its assignments efficiently in line with the UN mandate.
After taking over power, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took some of drastic steps to further undermine the UN and UNMOGIP over Kashmir. So much so, Indian Government ordered the mission to vacate a government building under its use in New Delhi. According to Major Nicolas Diaz, the Officer in Charge of New Delhi Headquarters of UNMOGIP, Indian authorities have not given any good reasons, while ordering vacating the building which was under the use of the mission for decades. He further said that, “the observers group would continue to operate in line with the U.N. mandate and that it was looking at alternative accommodation.” For monitoring the ceasefire in disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, UNMOGIP has its offices at; Srinagar, New Delhi, Muzaffarabad and Islamabad.
Since India is against any role of UN and UNMOGIP on Kashmir, therefore, it is all out to do away with the presence of UNMOGIP in India and Pakistan. In this context, on January 30, 2013, once Pakistan demanded the investigation of LoC violations through this neutral group of military observers, India refused. So much so, over a debate between Pakistani and Indian representatives in UN about the deployment and role of UNMOGIP, the Indian Permanent Representative to the UN, Hardeep Singh Puri said that, “UNMOGIP’s role had been ‘overtaken’ by the 1972 Simla Agreement.” This indeed is a misquoting and misleading by India. The fact of the matter is, UN Charter and UN resolutions hold good over the Kashmir dispute, despite Simla or any agreement. Even the opening statement of the Simla Agreement states, “That the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries.” How can India undermine the UN role or the role of UNMOGIP?
This Indian stance was rejected by then Pakistani Representative, Masood Khan (the current President of AJK). He contested the statement of Mr Puri and argued that, Simla agreement-1972 did not reject or relegate the UN resolutions and the role of UNMOGIP. Later, Mr Martin Nesirky, the spokesperson of the UN Secretary General clarified that, “UNMOGIP can only be terminated by a decision of the Security Council” rather by the assertion of one party (India). This is true that through Simla Agreement-1972, Pakistan and India agreed to resolve their bilateral issues through a bilateral approach, but, Kashmir is neither a bilateral dispute nor outside the UN ambit. Over the Indian stance in 1972 about the UNMOGIP, then UN Secretary General said that, “UNMOGIP could be terminated only by a decision of the Security Council.” In the absence of such an agreement, UNMOGIP has been maintained with the same arrangements as established following December 1971 ceasefire.
Nevertheless, Kashmir is the oldest unresolved dispute on the agenda of UN. All UN resolutions, totalling over two dozen, call for a fair and impartial plebiscite to decide the future status of Jammu and Kashmir as per the wishes of its subjects. It is a matter of future of over twenty-million Kashmiri people. India cannot be allowed to continue its old policy of expansionism and forceful occupation. Whereas UN and major powers have played significant role in resolution of other issues like East Taimor, South Sudan and Balkans etc, it has been found wanting in the case of Kashmir dispute. This is despite three wars between India and Pakistan and several efforts made for the peaceful resolution of Kashmir dispute.
Today, the people of Kashmir question UN Character and UN resolutions over Kashmir. Was this all meant to linger on the settlement of dispute and benefit India. Indeed, analysing from the tangibles, one can clearly declare the UN as having double standards in dealing with serious issues like Kashmir. Kashmiri feel that, perhaps, it was due to apathy on the part of the UN that emboldened New Delhi to annex that disputed territory forcefully.
Even Chapter VI does stop a forceful UN role. Article 33 and 34 of the UN Charter states that “any dispute that is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security should first be addressed through negotiation, mediation or other peaceful means, and states that the Council can call on the parties to use such means to settle their dispute.” In case of non-settlement, the dispute can be referred to UNSC for settlement. UN Article 34, empowers the Security Council to investigate any dispute, or any situation that is likely to endanger international peace and security. The nuclear dimension of the Kashmir dispute clearly speaks of an immediate role by UNSC for priority settlement of Kashmir dispute, as it endangers the peace in South Asia and in fact the global peace.
There is need that UNO should seriously revisit its role over the future status of Kashmir and give Kashmiris their right, as granted in its Charter and resolutions. The international community and major powers have to reawaken their conscious. India should stop violations of human rights and respect UN Charter and its resolutions on the settlement of the dispute. Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris and India should stop harping on its misleading slogan of calling it as its integral part.
— The writer is International Relations analyst based in Islamabad.
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