AS Pakistan and India are taking gradual steps towards normalisation, the London-based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights (JKCHR), headed by veteran Dr Syed Nazir Gilani, has come out with a crisp but comprehensive document titled ‘Indian Action of 05 August 2019 – Engagement between India-Pakistan and Kashmir’ that gives an authentic insight into various milestones on Jammu and Kashmir dispute, aspirations of Kashmiri people, handling of the issue by Pakistan and India and implications of India’s illegal action of August 2019.
The report acknowledges that the instrument of ‘engagement’ has widely been used to secure peace and settle disputes but warned that dividends of the renewed engagement between Pakistan and India must be shared in equity and no party should be dispossessed or traded into a quid pro quo.
The contents of the report convey a vivid impression of being a neutral and objective approach towards different aspects of the longstanding issue and can provide a sound basis for formulating a realistic response to the situation arising out of Indian action of August 2019.
The report point out that as Kashmiris were waiting for a UN-supervised vote to determine their future India wronged them, raising question as to how would India and Pakistan adjust their efforts for peace, without being iniquitous to the rights movement of the people of Kashmir.
The report examines merits of the 5 August 2019 Indian action and the efforts afoot to engage each other, warning ‘any effort that remains unfair and injurious to interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, has no future’.
It acknowledged that Pakistan has put up strenuous efforts to expose Indian actions in Kashmir but regretted that Government and Opposition in Pakistan and Government of Azad Kashmir, in aggregate, are lost in the wilderness of confusion and euphoria on Kashmir situation has sagged as ‘we do not seem to have perfected a template to take our concerns and help for the Kashmiris to another secure and satisfactory level.
About the recent ceasefire, it says the accord has brought calm and security to the people living on both sides of cease fire line but Pakistan has to understand that there is a UN template on Kashmir and we are safe as long as we remain loyal to it.
Expressing concerns over ‘go slow’ policy at all levels in Pakistan, it assesses there has been very little and effective progress after the oral presentation of Prime Minister of Pakistan at the UN General Assembly in 2019 whereas India has not given up on punishing Kashmiri Muslims and on its plans to change the demography.
Kashmiris feel that annual speeches at the UN General Assembly, letters of Foreign Minister to UN Secretary General and to the President of the Security Council, Press Conferences, FO statements, Kashmir Committee meetings and promotion of a new culture of Webinars, are neither enough nor proportionate and pointed response to Indian action of 5 August 2019 and other actions.
It says neither India nor Pakistan has a right to re-set the UN compass on Kashmir as Jammu and Kashmir may be a dispute but in reality it is right of the people of Kashmir to self-determination.
It says General Musharraf failed as a leader for stepping out of the UN template and ignoring consultations.
It emphasized that in view of the Pakistan’s case at the UN, its agreements with Government of Azad Kashmir and agreements with Government of India, its political, moral and diplomatic support to the struggle of Kashmir, Pakistan should regard Indian action of 5 August 2019 as no different to Indian military intervention in East Pakistan in 1971.
India may have rushed for a quick bite on Kashmir on 5 August 2019 but it has thrown itself in a deep dark ravine and there is no exit.
As a way forward, the report proposes Pakistan to start reconnecting with countries and also help Kashmiris’ to reconnect with all those countries, who have remained fully involved in developing a UN template on resolution of the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir.
It also proposes that a just and inclusive dialogue across the table and in accordance with the UN template on Kashmir should be part of any terms of negotiations.
Until the UN revives work on its Kashmir template, Kashmiris need credible protection and for this purpose, we can have a UN Force in Kashmir, may be adding more strength and re-organizing the role of UNMOGIP.
We hope Pakistani policy-makers would give serious thoughts to the assessment in prevailing situation and recommendations made in the JKCHR’s report.