Kashmir and Self-Determination

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Musaib Manzoor

The People of Kashmir, for the last 75 years, have been waiting for the United Nations to fulfil the promise of Right to Self Determination made to the people of Kashmir.

Kashmiris have been persistent in their demands for settlement of Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council which guarantee the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.

At the time of the partition of India in 1947, two-thirds of population in Kashmir was Muslim, and shared a long bordered with newly-carved Pakistan. This would have assured that joining Pakistan was inevitable. On January 1, 1948, India brought the Kashmir issue to the United Nations Security Council. As a result, the United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was created on 20 January 1948 by a Security Council resolution.

The principle that “the final disposition of the State of Jammu & Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations” was accentuated in multiple UNSC resolutions, including Resolutions 47 of (1948), 51 of (1948), 80 of (1950) and 91 of (1951). Despite the fact that the UNSC has broadly acknowledged that only colonized peoples have an explicit right to self-determination, as a result of this stance, proponents of India’s position have pointed out that Kashmir is not a colony, and hence the grounds for Kashmiri self-determination do not apply. The UNSC has therefore disengaged from the Kashmir dispute; yet, the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, which continues to monitor activity on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), maintains a formal interest.

More recently, the focus of UN has shifted from RSD to Human Rights concerns. Since 1989, Kashmiris have taken to multiple modes of resistance including the armed insurgency against the Indian military occupation. The legitimacy of the Kashmiri people’s fight stems from their established but unrealized right to self-determination. Resolutions of the UNSC recognized this right. These resolutions remain as relevant now as they were 75 years ago. The basic principle of self-determination pledged to the Kashmiri people by the UN, Pakistan, and India, as well as the whole international community, is not susceptible to prescription. The Kashmiri people have risen to reclaim their right to self-determination, which has been denied to them for decades. The deprivation of this right by India is a denial of human freedom, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and human rights covenants.

After the Indian military martyred a popular militant commander BurhanMuzaffarWani, Kashmiris witnessed a massive public uprising against the Indian rule. To quell the protests, the Indian government forces killed over 100 young Kashmiri boys and blinded over a 1000 using shot gun pellets. The Guardian termed it “World’s First Mass Blinding”. The uprising sparked the first substantial UN action on Kashmir in decades, with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issuing two reports documenting multiple human rights violations perpetrated by the Indian Army in its efforts to quell the uprising.

The movement for Right to Self Determination received another blow after the government of India unilaterally annexed the disputed territory on August 5, 2019. In the run up to the annexation, thousands of Kashmiris were arrested and put behind bars, before a complete communication blackout was imposed. Prior to that over two hundred thousand additional armed forces were deployed in Kashmir.

Pakistan persuaded its tacit partner China to organize an emergency closed-door Security Council session on August 16, 2019, the first time the UN body has directly addressed the Kashmir issue in decades. The Council, however, ultimately took no action, instead urged both parties to “refrain from taking any unilateral action which might further aggravate the situation.” The UNSC held three meetings over Kashmir since August 5, 2019, which negates the Indian notion that the disputed region is its “internal matter.” The Indian occupying forces are engaged in the intentional and systematic persecution of innocent Kashmiris. International human rights organizations have compiled extensive documentation of Indian atrocities in Kashmir. Unfortunately, under Draconian and black laws, innocent men, women, and children have been slain and mutilated with complete impunity in the “world’s largest democracy.” The large-scale and brutal persecution of the Kashmiri people in order to stifle their right to self-determination is the worst kind of inhumanity.

However, the Kashmiris’ commitment to resist Indian tyranny and persecution is a manifestation of the certainty that they will one day vanquish the occupying India, and their hopes for a free and impartial plebiscite will be realized in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

*Musaib Manzoor is pursuing MS in Peace and Conflict Studies at the Centre for International Peace and Stability, NUST Islamabad.He is also a Researcher at Legal Forum for Kashmir.

 

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