M Fazal Elahi
IT has been more than a month since occupied Kashmir has been under siege of the merciless Indian forces. The persisting extremely volatile situation in India-occupied Kashmir (IoK) where men, women and children are being brazenly maimed and obliterated, where unparalleled human rights abuses are being blatantly committed by the day, and where people are being held incommunicado from the outside world has so far not been able to make any impact on the hearts and minds of the insensitive civilized world. Unambiguously, the situation in IoK is getting worse by the hour, not by the day. What, however, is mindboggling is the incorrigibly feeble response of the world community, the international human rights organizations and, above all, the UN and the US towards the rapidly deteriorating Kashmir entanglement.
Why this glaring apathy, particularly of the UN, the US and the other powers that be, towards the ongoing inordinately critical Kashmir situation? Thus far, whatever has been stated vis-à-vis the deteriorating Kashmir issue by the UN, the US and other world powers and Islamic world is mere rhetoric. Nothing concrete has been done so far to reflect seriousness of the world community to sincerely and assertively address the Kashmir problem; a problem that, the world knows, has every potential to explode into a catastrophic nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), after its closed door consultative meeting on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, held on 16 August 2019, did pronounce Kashmir as a disputed territory. It also clearly said that IoK certainly is not an internal matter of India, as claimed by the Indian government. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, had also emphasized the need to resolve this issue in accordance with applicable Security Council Resolutions and the Charter of the UN. The US, some other countries, including the Islamic world, too said that they are seriously perturbed by the deteriorating Kashmir situation, and that the matter should be resolved through dialogue between India and Pakistan. However, nothing significant has so far been said or done by the international community that would reflect its seriousness in resolving the Kashmir conundrum once and for all.
The only country which came out strongly and vociferously on the issue was none other than Pakistan’s time-tested and all-weather ally, China. As a matter of fact, the UNSC consultative meeting on Jammu and Kashmir was called on China’s request. As reported by a leading English newspaper of the country, “Only one of the five permanent members, China, openly favoured Pakistan.” The others only desired India and Pakistan to address the Kashmir dispute in a bilateral set-up, the report said. The feeble stance of the UN and the US in particular, and the world community in general, vis-à-vis occupied Kashmir, reflects nothing but their hypocrisy in resolving issues of international consequence. This can be lucidly gauged from some commendable actions taken by the world body, the US and other powers that be, in the past, on issues of international significance equally important as the ongoing Kashmir issue.
East Timor is the first case in point. A quick glance of the history of East Timor will unfold the facts that led to the independence of East Timor from Indonesia. As reported in the international media, many countries including Australia effectively looked the other way, prepared to appease Indonesia because of its size and power in the region. In 1978 Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, was the first to recognise Jakarta’s de facto annexation. But the UN condemned it out-and-out and called for an act of self-determination. The crucial role that the UN played in getting East Timor ultimately freed from the clutches of Indonesia cannot be overemphasized. The second case in point is South Sudan. It gained its independence from the Republic of Sudan in 2011. This made it the newest sovereign state to have emerged on the map of the world in the 21st century, with widespread recognition. How sustained and effective was the role of the United Nations Security Council in supporting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army? As reported in the international media, “the Security Council, by its resolution 1590 (2005) of 24 March 2005, decided to establish the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to support implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army on 9 January 2005; and to perform certain functions relating to humanitarian assistance, and protection and promotion of human rights. South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011, following 98.83% support for independence in a January 2011 referendum”.
Thus, it can be dexterously concluded that the role of the United Nations with regard to the independence of both East Timor and South Sudan has been inordinately crucial. Strongly backed by the powers that be, the world body, one must admit, played a pivotal role in helping these two subjugated nations gain independence from the clutches of their subjugators. In the backdrop of the circumstances portrayed above, one is perplexed to appreciate why the UN, the US and other world powers are so averse to deal with the issue of IoK with the same passion and conviction with which it pursued and ultimately resolved the East Timor and South Sudan imbroglio. Doesn’t this reflect their double standards?
Brutalities being committed by the treacherous Indian forces in the Vale continue unabated. It has crossed all bounds of civility. The ever-belligerent Indian government, headed by a ludicrous and hot-headed person like Modi, is doing everything in its power to suppress the freedom movement of the gallant Kashmiri people. Emboldened by the insensitivity of the UN and the world powers’, India has audaciously and blatantly rejected the UN Resolution of 1948 on occupied Kashmir that clearly states, “The problem of occupied Kashmir must be resolved through grant of right to self-determination to the people of the occupied territory.” Will the UN, backed by the US and the other world powers, set its foot down and prevail on India to urgently hold a plebiscite in occupied Kashmir as was done in the case of East Timor and South Sudan? The sooner this is done the better it would be not only for the two volatile nuclear powers India and Pakistan, that are at the verge of a potential nuclear standoff, but also for the region and, perhaps, for the entire world.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.