Bilateralism on Kashmir: A misleading Indian assertion

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Dr Muhammad Khan

THE much trumpeted mediation offers of President Donald Trump over Kashmir vanished when US President clearly stated on the sidelines of G7 Summit that, “India-Pak Issues Bilateral”. On 26 August 2019, Indian Prime Minister and US President Donald Trump had a very pleasant 40 minutes meeting in Biarritz, the French town, hosting G7, ‘the world’s most industrialized nations. During the meeting, Trump and Modi exchanged laughter; both chuckled and clasped each other’s hands many a time in the presence of international media. It was a demonstration of deep friendship between two leaders, indeed between two states, dominated by champion of RSS ideology and killer of Muslims in Kashmir and so-called secular India. It was expected that G7 countries would condemn the Indian forceful annexation and clamp-down of occupied Jammu and Kashmir which has been under continuous curfew and massive human rights violations since 5 August 2019. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort came out from this civilized forum. Rather, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi was able to deceptively convince the leadership of these countries that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and would be resolved bilaterally. The fact of the matter is, Kashmir has never been a bilateral issue, since it was moved to the United Nations on 1January 1948. Thereafter, there passed dozens of UN resolutions, all calling for its solution as per the wishes of its subjects under UN sponsored plebiscite. The interests driven United States and Western countries are well aware of these UN Resolutions and the Indian Army’s human rights violation record in the occupied state.
After making a commitment for mediation, it was very low and shocking on the part of President Trump, once he said, “We spoke last night about Kashmir; Prime Minister really feels he has it under control. They speak with Pakistan and I’m sure that they will be able to do something that will be very good.” How could he believe Modi’s lie, who has in fact converted entire state of Jammu and Kashmir into a jail. US media has been highlighting the Indian human rights violations in the occupied state, which is not part of India as per Indian Constitution, UN Resolutions and international law. Replying to a question about the US mediation on Kashmir, Prime Minister Modi was more vocal, saying, “Do not want to bother any other country with this (bilateral issue).” Besides, he said that India and Pakistan were one nation before 1947 and that the two countries can solve their own problems. It was a tall tale and in fact a lie by the Indian Premier; Kashmir dispute could not be resolved in the last 72 years by India and Pakistan, how can it be resolved when doors of negotiations are closed between these two South Asian rivals.
Indeed, sequel to independence in 1947, the State of Pakistan remained under a constant security threat from India mainly over the unresolved issue of Jammu and Kashmir; which became the focal point of rivalry between India and Pakistan. Hence, on Kashmir, it is Indian stringency versus the international community and Indian repression versus the right of self-determination of Kashmiri people. In fact, the bilateral approach of addressing the issues between Pakistan and India has never worked in the last seven decades. It is pertinent to mention that India has been taking the cover of Simla Agreement-1972, preventing third party mediation over Kashmir. But, even Simla Agreement does not treat Kashmir as a bilateral dispute. Indeed, Kashmir dispute is not bilateral in nature; Kashmiris being the principal party to the dispute, China having 9000 sq miles areas of the state and UN as the principal negotiator, where India referred the case. It is significant to mention that Para 1(ii) of the Simla Agreement reads: “That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them.
Pending the final settlement of any of the problems between the two countries, neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation nor shall both prevent the organization, assistance or encouragement of any acts detrimental to the maintenance of peaceful and harmonious relations.” To cater for the safeguards on Kashmir dispute, Para 1(i) of the Simla Agreement clearly reads: “That the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries.” Simla Agreement cannot be over and above the UN Charter, UN Resolutions and above all the UN declared status on Kashmir. Simla Accord could not annul the UN Resolutions on Kashmir, which remain relevant even today, after India unilaterally annexed the State, illegally. Nevertheless, leaving aside the perspective of international law and UN resolutions on Kashmir dispute, Simla Agreement stands scrapped after India took unilateral step of doing away the special status of the state by abrogating Article 370 on 5 August 2019. It is India which has violated the Simla Agreement (Para 1(ii)), by altering the situation in India-occupied Jammu & Kashmir, unilaterally. In practical terms, the Simla Agreement stands scrapped in totality on 5 August 2019.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University, Islamabad.