Ali Ashraf Khan
What an audacity British Foreign Minister and Indian Prime Minister Modi have to speak about Kashmir in such a way when a few days back Philip Hammond, who visited Islamabad, urged Pakistan and India to not allow non-state actors and other pressure groups to derail the peace process. What he meant by that was that the Kashmiri people’s struggle for their right of self-determination and thus the Kashmir conflict should not prevent India and Pakistan from sorting out their relations. By terming Kashmiri people and the freedom fighters as ‘non-state actors’ he tried to marginalise the conflict.
Mr Hammond seems to have forgotten that it was British colonialism and its representatives in British-India that had very thoughtfully planned and created the Kashmir conflict in the first place. When they decided to partition the subcontinent rather than withdraw in an orderly manner from the colony that they had dominated and exploited for roughly two hundred years they not only failed to put power into Indian and Pakistani hands in a proper and organized manner but allowed the slaughter of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. They also failed to provide a clear roadmap for dealing with the close to six hundred princely states after their paramountcy had lapsed.
If the people of Kashmir with their huge Muslim majority would have been given the chance as per British government approved partition plan to determine their fate at that time as a constitutional and moral responsibility keeping in view the principle that where the princely state has a Muslim or Hindu ruler and the majority of population following different religion in that case the accession of state will be decided by the will of the people ascertained through a proper referendum. Neglecting this clause of British partition plan was a criminal act of not only the British viceroy in India but connivance of British Queen and Parliament that led to human massacre, an unpardonable criminal act: In case of proper and just handling of the Kashmir conflict would not have arisen in the first place.
Later when solutions were sought in the UNSC it was again Sir Alexander Cadogan, Britain’s permanent representative at UNSC who made sure that no solution would come about that would include the possibility of depriving their bosom friend Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru of his ancestral land. But to deprive people of Kashmir of their selfhelp that was on the card as freedom fighters had already reached Srinagar to depose the Hindu Maharaja. A new gimmick of UNSC Resolutions declaring Ceasefires and withdrawal of troops to their original positions, appointing of UN representative for India & Pakistan, a Plebiscite Administrator to hold plebiscite in Kashmir, deployment of UN Military Observer Group on both sides of India and Pakistan to prevent their interference in Kashmir, which was later flouted by India under British patronage, a fact that can be proved from UNSC debates and decisions taken to implement agreed formula for deciding the future of Kashmir.
When the British Viceroy was manipulatng the border line in favour of India by giving Pathankot and Gurdaspur to India will some day some one declare them enemies of humanity? The central theme ever present in Beaumont’s historic paperwork is that Mountbatten not only bent the rules when it came to partition – he also bent the border in India’s favour. On one occasion, he complains that he was “deftly excluded” from a lunch between the pair in which a substantial tract of Muslim-majority territory of district Gurdaspur and Pathankot – which should have gone to Pakistan – was instead ceded to India. The documents his son Robert Beaumont found in his father’s belongings show that Beaumont had a stark assessment of the role played by Britain in the last days of the Raj. Robert Beaumont rifled through his father’s archives. The various and somewhat tatty pieces of paper he unearthed are no ordinary collection of paternal memoirs. They are the thoughts and reflections of his father, Christopher Beaumont, who played a central role in the partition of India in 1947.
Even a cursory look on the working of paper tiger UNSC will show how Security Council continues to act like a lame duck in spite of the fact that it was Indian Prime Minister who rushed to ask for UN intervention in the ongoing conflict, see the dates and decisions of UNSC resolution that belies India claim of accession of Kashmir with India on 26th October 1947 by the then Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten. Resolution No. 38 was passed on 17-1-1948 that called upon India & Pakistan to refrain from further aggravating the situation in Kashmir. Resolution No. 39 was passed on 20-1-1948 that offered to assist in peaceful resolution of Kashmir conflict by forming a 3 member committee. Resolution No.47 was passed on 21-4-1948 after hearing complaints and decided to increase members of committee from 3 to 5 with specific purpose to prepare conditions for early plebiscite to decide the future of Kashmir. Resolution No. 51 was passed on 3-6-1948 that re-affirmed resolution No. 39 and asked the 5 member committee to move to area of dispute to discharge responsibilities assigned to them under resolution no. 47 and also address to points raised by Pakistani foreign minister in his letter addressed to UNSC.
Resolution No. 80 was passed on 14-3-1950 that examined two reports; one from UN Rep for Indo-Pak and second from Gen. McNaughton about complaints on Ceasefire and de-militarisation of J&K and both India and Pakistan agreed on appointment of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz as UN Plebiscite Administrator for Kashmir. Resolution No. 91 was passed on 30-3-1951 that discussed report from Sir Owen Dixon UN Rep for Indo-Pak along with his resignation that was accepted and Council appointed Mr. Frank Graham as new Rep for Indo-Pak and asked him to expedite implementation of UNSC resolution to hold plebiscite in Kashmir and asked both countries to cooperate with UN Rep to prepare conducive atmosphere for early holding of plibiscite in Kashmir. Resolution No.96 was passed on 10-11-1951 that received A report from UN Rep Frank Graham; The Council was gratified to note that both India and Pakistan are extending support to UN Rep for a peaceful settlement of conflict and have ensured to respect Ceasefire, both countries agree in principle that future of Kashmir will be determined through free and impartial plebiscite under UN Resolutions. Resolution No. 98 was passed on 23-12-1952 in which UNSC urged upon the governments of India and Pakistan to start immediate negotiations through UN Rep on Indo-Pak to reach an agreement to hold plebiscite and number of UNMOG troops deployment on both sides of Kashmir to ensure free and fair plebiscite.
Since then much water has flown down the Indus and the Ganges as well and thousands of Kashmiris have sacrificed with their lives for the fault of the colonial power that instead of leaving behind an ordered subcontinent ran away. Since then Kashmir is divided and is bittering the relations between India and Pakistan. Given the fact that so much blood is attached to the conflict as well as political, economic and strategic interest only a satisfactory for all three sides – India, Pakistan and Kashmiris- solution will form the basis for better relations between the two countries. Since the BJP has come to power Kashmir has come centre-stage again because of Indian Prime Minister Modi’s vow to finally solve the conflict by incorporating Kashmir into India in spite of above detailed UN Resolutions?
So far his plan has failed; neither could the BJP win elections in Kashmir nor would the resistance movement slow down. On the contrary, a new video has surfaced in youtube showing an Indian professor saying Kashmir is not a part of India and that raising of pro-independence slogans by Kashmiris is justified. “Everyone knows that India is illegally occupying Kashmir. Everybody accepts it.” Prof Nivedita Menon is seen in the video clip as telling a gathering of JNU students on Feb 22. The professor teaches at the Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory at the School of International Studies in JNU. While the world has accepted this reality and maps of India printed outside India are showing a different borderline India is refusing to butch.
Next year it will be seventy years of India, Pakistan and the Kashmir conflict; it is high time and in the best interest of all involved to finally make a move and find a solution to the problem. That would be an active contribution to fighting ‘terrorism’ as well. In the 21st century. We should not remain hostage of our previous manipulators and the bleak past. Get rid of the proverbial monkey and let the people of Kashmir decide their own future.
—The writer is a senior columnist based in Karachi.