United Nations, particularly the Security Council, which was created to prevent wars through peaceful settlement of disputes between nations that posed threat to the regional and global peace, has regrettably failed to fulfil its obligations as envisaged in the UN Charter. In regards to settling conflicts which are a perennial threat to peace and security in different regions of the world its track record is replete with abdication of responsibilities, missed opportunities and selective and discriminatory application of the UN Charter. The nations which have placed their faith and pinned hopes in the UN and the Security Council in settling their issues in conformity with the UN Charter indiscriminately, premised on inherent goodness of human kind, collective civilisational accomplishments of the human race and triumph of morality, feel really disappointed. Palestine and Kashmir are classic examples of the UNSC failure.
In case of Kashmir the UN adopted a number of resolutions in 1948 and 1949 which reiterated settlement of the question of accession of Kashmir through a plebiscite but did not make tangible efforts to ensure their implementation immediately. It was a good opportunity missed to resolve the issue. India took advantage of the prolongation of the dispute and through the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir managed a declaration regarding accession of Kashmir to India which constituted rejection of the UN Resolutions on the issue. Though through its resolutions 91 and 122 it did reject the Indian move but did not bother to take required action to settle the issue in conformity with the wishes of the people, notwithstanding the fact that not only the UN resolutions called for a plebiscite but the Indian Prime Minister Nehru had also repeatedly given commitment to allow the people of Kashmir to exercise their right of self-determination.
The non-resolution of the issue led to war between India and Pakistan in 1965. The UNSC taking notice of the situation passed resolution 211 feeling convinced that an early cessation of hostilities was essential as a first step toward a peaceful settlement of the outstanding differences between the two countries on Kashmir and other related issues. It demanded ceasefire on 22 September which happened in conformity with the resolution. Regrettably no tangible effort was made to implement the UN resolutions. Yet another opportunity was missed.
The third war between India and Pakistan in 1971 also provided an opportunity to the UNSC to make a move towards the settlement of the Kashmir issue in view of the threat that it posed to the regional peace and security which went abegging. In the wake of nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in May 1998 the UNSC while condemning the tests demanded that India and Pakistan refrain from further nuclear test and in this context called upon all the states not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion in accordance with the provisions of the CTBT. It also urged India and Pakistan to resume dialogue between them on all outstanding issues, particularly on all matters pertaining to peace and security, in order to remove tensions between them it encouraged them to find mutually acceptable solutions that address the root causes of those tensions, including Kashmir. The UNSC, as is evident, failed to take any concrete steps to resolve the issue in spite of the fact that Kashmir had become a nuclear flash-point, except for a passing reference to Kashmir and urging the two countries to settle their differences mutually, abdicating its responsibility as a peace making organ of the UN.
Both India and Pakistan rejected the resolution particularly the provision regarding nuclear tests giving their own justifications for taking that course. In regards to the mention of Kashmir issue in the resolution Indian Prime Minister in a statement in the Rajiya Saba said, “Honourable members have expressed strong reservations against attempt to internationalize the Kashmir issue. There is simply no question of India ever agreeing to such internationalism. UN Security Council has chosen to mention Kashmir in the resolution. This is unacceptable and does not change the reality that the State of Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian Union. I would also like to draw attention to the terms in which Kashmir finds mention in the resolution. The UNSC has recognized that bilateral dialogue has to be the basis of Indo-Pak relations and mutually acceptable solutions have to be found for outstanding issues including Kashmir. This is in keeping with our position”.
Pakistan’s response was “The mere mentioning of the root cause, Kashmir, is not enough. We regret that even the important element contained in the P-5 Ministerial Communiqué, of their readiness to assist India and Pakistan in promoting reconciliation and cooperation has been omitted from this Resolution. It is evident that by adopting this approach the Council is in fact acknowledging its failure to address the critical elements of the situation. In short, the Council wants Pakistan and India settle the issues bedevilling their relations by themselves. If Pakistan and India could have sorted out these problems by themselves, today South Asia would not have been nuclearised”
The action by the Modi government to make Jammu & Kashmir part of the Indian Union on 5th August is a rude rejection of the UN Resolutions on the issue and an affront to UN and the world community. Pakistan has rightly approached the UNSC warning it of the dangers to the peace and security in the region as a consequence of Indian action pointing out the oppression being perpetrated on the Kashmiris and urging it to fulfil its responsibilities towards them. It is encouraging to note that in regards to the discussion held in close door meeting of the UNSC the official website of the UN in a statement said” The Kashmir issue would be resolved as per UN Charter and UNSC resolutions. Kashmir is not an internal matter of India but a matter of world peace and security which has come under debate with the UN ambit after 1965”. It is a vindication of Pakistani position and rejection of the Indian stance. However mere acknowledgment of the ground realities is not enough. UNSC is under obligation to prove its credentials as a peace making body by having its resolutions implemented. It is perhaps the last opportunity to do so.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.