HOURS before Trump-Modi meeting, the US administration designated Syed Salahuddin, leader of Hizbul Mujahideen fighting for libration of Kashmir as Specially Designated Global Terrorist imposing sanctions on him. It is indeed a very worrying development as far as struggle of the people of Kashmir for their right of self-determination is concerned. It is yet another reward for India for doing US bidding to promote its strategic interests in the region and acting as a counter-weight to China. Pakistan has rightly rued the development and reiterated its resolve to continue extending moral, diplomatic and political support to the struggle of the people of Kashmir. Modi is reported to have said that he and Trump had similar vision. The Trump-Modi nexus is a dangerous portent as far as peace in this regions is concerned.
The US move a ranting testimony to the hypocrisy of the US administration that negates its much trumpeted claims of respect for the right of self-determination, human liberties and human rights. The so-called champions of the human rights have not said even a single word about the atrocities being committed by the Indian forces against the people of Kashmir ever since the eruption of a new wave for freedom in the wake of killing of Burhan Wani, which continues unabated.
The US and its western allies look at the Kashmir conflict through the prism of their strategic and commercial interests rather than the internationally recognized human liberties and causes. It is pertinent to point out that in the wake of the war that broke out between the two countries after the landing of Indian forces in Kashmir, India took the matter to the United Nations, which facilitated an immediate ceasefire. The UN during the course of its deliberations on the subject passed twenty three resolutions, including two UNICEP resolutions of 13 August 1948 and 5th January 1949 calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir under the auspices of United Nations. It is quite evident that like the supposed instrument of accession and the partition plan, the UN resolutions also vividly recognized the right of the people to decide their own future through a process of self-determination. Nehru in the wake of these resolutions, is on record to have repeatedly said that India would fulfill its obligation towards the people of Kashmir as enunciated in the UN resolutions.
However India reneged on its commitment and tried to have the question of accession resolved through the constituent assembly of Kashmir in 1957. That move was repudiated by the UN through its resolutions 91 and 122, maintaining the issue could not be settled through any arrangement other than a UN sponsored plebiscite. As is evident Indian position on Kashmir has no legal and moral basis.
In the wake of 1971 war between India and Pakistan, Simla Agreement was signed and clause 6 of the agreement emphasized the resolution of all disputes between the two countries including Kashmir through peaceful means, bilaterally. The very fact that India acknowledged Kashmir as a disputed territory in Simla Agreement, belied its claims of Kashmir being its integral part. But unfortunately the Indians have never shown honesty of purpose in resolving this issue and have used varying tactics to suspend or scupper the process of dialogue. It has always remained evasive on the core issue of Kashmir. The Indians also claim that in view of the Simla Agreement, Pakistan cannot internationalize the Kashmir dispute. That stance is also devoid of any legality. Article 103 of UN Charter says “ In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the members of the UN under the present charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present charter will prevail” What it means is that the UN resolutions on Kashmir will take precedence over all other international agreements on the same issue. So Pakistan is very much within its right to invoke UN resolutions, after having been frustrated to find solution through the bilateral arrangement.
Kashmir is not a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. It is about the inalienable right of self-determination of a people, which is one of the fundamental human rights. India unfortunately continues to occupy Kashmir despite these realities and its security forces have indulged in inhuman practices to subdue the movement for freedom. It has adopted a belligerent posture towards Pakistan posing a threat to peace and tranquillity in the region, not realizing the fact that a war-like state cannot maintain its existence and ultimately is fated to disintegrate. That is the lesson of the history. The reality is that peaceful co-existence between Pakistan and India is absolutely imperative not only for the good of the people of the two countries but also peace, security and economic prosperity of the whole region. The UN also needs to prove its worth by having this issue resolved. The US and EU who never tire of crying hoarse about respect for human rights from every convenient roof-top, must also abandon their hypocrisy on human rights violations in Kashmir and lend their support to the efforts to resolve the issue. Encouraging India to continue with its violation of human rights in Kashmir, could have disastrous consequences for peace and security in the region besides undermining the strategic interests of US and its allies.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.