Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi
OIC Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Jammu and Kashmir Yousef M Al Dobeay arrived Islamabad on Monday for talks on the deteriorating situation in the occupied Valley. Certainly, an unbiased and a liberal world view advocates that Kashmir’s accession to India isn’t final and ultimate, that the will of the Kashmiris is inevitably paramount for making an ultimate destiny of the Kashmiri people, albeit this irrefutable truth is being constantly denied by the Modi administration. In the given realisation of this reality, Kashmiris’ basic demands for plebiscite, autonomy, even independence, are absolutely legitimate. India can’t forcefully keep them with New Delhi by using state and military power. And within the span of six months, the UNSC has taken into account the Kashmir issue.
Addressing a gathering in New York, Pakistan‘s permanent representative in the UN Munir Akram said Pakistan’s forceful and determined campaign to highlight the grave situation in the curfew-bound occupied Kashmir has led to the revival of the decades-old dispute. Undeniably, a majority public opinion both in India-occupied Kashmir and in Pakistan views Kashmir as integral to Pakistan‘s traditional identity. In Islamic Pakistan, carved out of undivided India as a homeland for Indian Muslims unwilling to live in a Hindu-majority nation, the existence of a Muslim-majority province in India sticks in the craw. “The entire world has seen how the nation has come together to raise voice for our Kashmiri brethren after the illegal actions taken by India on August 5,” Ambassador Akram, who is Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, said, referring to the fateful day when India annexed the disputed state, placed it under lockdown and carried out thousands of arrests of Kashmiris under a communications blockade.
As for the Kashmir position, the hoax Indian view, apparently being fostered by the BJP thinking is, that the problems in Kashmir are nothing but Pakistan and the radical Islam. Get the Pakistanis off the Kashmiris’ back by shooting a sequel to Kashmir Ki Kali in Dal Lake. Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, still a member of parliament, has been detained under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows detention without formal charge for two years, among other things. Farooq Abdullah, whose family had been instrumental in tying Kashmir’s future to Delhi, appeared on television before his detention and appealed to the people of India, saying he had stood with them and it was their time to reciprocate. Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have been detained since 5 August when the Indian government stripped Kashmir of its partial autonomy. Addressing a gathering in New York, Munir Akram said that Pakistan is now working on a three-track approach to further advance the case on Kashmir. The tracks are: Highlighting dire human rights situation in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir; reaffirming the legitimacy of the freedom struggle of Kashmiri people based on their UN-pledged right to self-determination; and to reassert that Pakistan stood for peace and sought a political settlement, not through the use of force.
In 1955, former UN Secretary-General (1953–1961) Dag Hammarskjöld encapsulated the nature of the UN as a member state organization — created by states to serve states and limited by state cooperation. This appraisal comes true. The UNSC two consecutive meetings in the last six months on the Kashmir issue and finally ruling that the said Kashmir dispute must be settled bilaterally between India and Pakistan is nothing but an unwarranted escape from fulfilling its ascribed responsibilities. Clearly manifested in the Simla Agreement of 1972, the premier bilateral accord between the warring nations, holds that “principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the countries”, hence shining light on the validity of the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir. The disputed nature is further reiterated as, “In Jammu and Kashmir, the Line of Control resulting from the cease-fire of December 17, 1971, shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. It seems not surprising that Modi‘s Government is highly upset with the ongoing redevelopments: firstly, the UN chief Antonio Guterres’ current visit to Pakistan and his remarks on the genuine rights of the Kashmiri people and the inevitable need of the implementation of the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir, and secondly, the upcoming voting of the EU Parliament on Kashmir, and thirdly, the changing attitude of the Trump Administration towards India.
The UN Secretary General while recently visiting Pakistan, expressed “deep concern” at heightened tension between South Asian neighbours, India and Pakistan, over the disputed region of Kashmir, calling for India to respect “human rights and fundamental freedoms” when dealing with discontent in the territory. “I have repeatedly stressed the importance of exercising maximum restraint and taking steps to de-escalate both militarily and verbally while reiterating my offer to exercise my good offices should both sides ask,” added Guterres. Speaking at an international conference on refugees recently held in Islamabad on the eve of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ visit, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed the comments and called on the UN to do more to intervene over issue of Kashmir.
“If the United Nations does not play its part, this could become one of the flashpoints in the world,” he said at an event where he spoke alongside the UN chief. “Not to alarm you, but prevention is better than cure.” A delegation of the APPKG, which is an independent group of parliamentarians from the United Kingdom, recently visited Pakistan and showed concern on the alarming situation in Kashmir. “What is going on in Jammu & Kashmir has not gone unnoticed. We are not here for a sightseeing trip, to look at what is happening and to do nothing. We are constantly raising this […] we hope in addition to what we are doing through our government, the international community as a whole will realise that human rights is a priority and that priorities are not just about trade.” Needless to say, it is Modi’s greatest bluff that he could rule a territory that does not belong to India.
—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.
Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi