By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
Feb 4, 2014
The 20th Century is unique in a way that, two major wars (WW-I and WW-II) were fought with global impact and mass killings of the human beings. After WW-I, League of Nations was established, to maintain world peace by preventing wars through collective security and disarmament. Besides, this world body was to settle the interstate disputes and global issues through negotiations and arbitration. Unfortunately, this international body remained ineffective and could not save the world from plunging into another war, WW-II in 1939, which was more deadly and total in nature. Towards the end of WW-II, the war winners thought of a more efficient and dependable international organization with more grip to regulate the global affairs. With the mission of promoting international peace and cooperation, the United Nations Organization (UNO), thus came into being on October 24, 1945.
The biggest credit United Nations has in its account is the process of decolonization, mostly from Asia and Africa. India and Pakistan were among those, states, decolonized in the initial years, after the establishment of UNO. Territorial boundaries of these newly independent states were manipulated in a way to give advantage to the successor state of British Indian; Baharat, and Pakistan was deprived from its legal rights and barred from having its due share. The majority Muslim populated state of Jammu and Kashmir was invaded by India on the false bases of Instrument of Accession. Kashmiri people were deprived from their basic right to join the newly established state of Pakistan. Thus, the very basic charter of the UNO was violated by India and the Governor General Lord Mountbatten, the last British Indian Viceroy. Whereas, UN charter promised the right of self determination, India violated that right of Kashmiri people by invading and occupying the sate against the wishes of its people in October 1947. Upon the Kashmiri revolt, and Pakistani assistance to Kashmiri cause, India referred the Kashmir case to United Nations Organization on January 1, 1948. UNSC immediately asked for the ceasefire and passed resolutions including two UNICIP resolutions for the solution of Kashmir dispute as per the wishes of its subjects. UN involvement in the dispute subsequently made this world body as a party to the dispute.
On its part, Indian policy has been to gradually incorporate the state into its territory and relegate the UN role for the resolution of Kashmir issue. Since 1990s, India even disallowed the ‘United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to visit the Line of Control (LoC) from the side of Indian held Kashmir for the monitoring of ceasefire violations between the Indo-Pak militaries. It is worth mentioning that, UNMOGIP was established in 1948 by UN Security Council for moinitoring the LoC and any violations of ceasefire by either side between Pakistani and Indian forces deployed along the Line of Control. For the past two decades, India even tried to convince the UN members that, UN resolutions over Kashmir are no more valid, hence need deletion from the record of this world body. Besides, it wanted rolling back of the UNMOGIP from both India and Pakistan. In this regards on January 30, 2013, once Permanent Pakistani Representative in UN, Masood Khan demanded the investigation of LoC violations through UNMOGIP, Indian Permanent Representative to the UN, Mr Hardeep Singh Puri reacted sharply and refused any UN role on the issue. Indian representative even said that “UNMOGIP’s role had been ‘overtaken’ by the 1972 Simla Agreement.” It is worth mentioning that, Simla Agreement-1972 did not reject or relegate the UN resolutions or the mandate of UNMOGIP. The spokesperson of UN Secretary General however later clarified that, “UNMOGIP can only be terminated by a decision of the Security Council” rather by the assertion of one party (India).
Regretfully, Kashmir is the oldest unresolved dispute on the agenda of UN. Whereas, over two dozen UN resolutions are calling for fair and impartial plebiscite for the decision of the dispute, India has resisted their implementation. Many a time UN even nominated the plebiscite administrators and aids, but India always acted a stumbling block to all these efforts. India did this all under the fear that, an impartial plebiscite would pave the way for Kashmiris to decide their future away from India. Since Kashmir is not an issue of real state between India and Pakistan, therefore, UN should play its decisive role, rather accommodating the Indian demand, which has always acted against the UN Charter. Indeed, in the last sixty-six years, UN role over Kashmir has been pessimistic and found much wanting. Whereas UN did resolve other issues like South Sudan and East Timor, it has been discriminatory towards Kashmir dispute.
Today, the people of Kashmir question the role and credibility of the world body for not giving them, the UN promised and indeed their inherent right to live as per their wishes in their own state. They believe that, UN and international community have done very little about their right of self-determination. With the re-emergence of Kashmiri struggle in 1989 and its revival in 2008 and 2010 in consequences of indigenous uprisings, the world body could have acted decisively to break the impasse. But, nothing concrete was done by UN and civilized international community, except rare condemnation of human rights, committed by Indian state forces. In the absence of any timely action on the part of the UNSC, India unleashed a reign of terror on Kashmiris, killing those demanding their freedom and incarcerating the popular leaders in order to silence the opposition. In order to do so, India continued enhancing the strength and role of its security forces in IOK. Through various discriminatory laws, Indian security forces are given freedom to detain and torture the civilians, gang rape the womenfolk, torch the villages and desecrate the places of worship and holy shrines. The United Nations neither could monitor nor stop these Indian acts. So much so, in the recent past, no UN resolution could be presented or passed to condemn the Indian human rights violations.
Owing to the nuclearization of India and Pakistan, a never ending arms race, and a series of accusations and counter accusations between two neighbours, there is an essential requirement that, UNO should seriously revisit its role over the future status of Kashmir and give Kashmiris their right, as granted in its Charter and resolutions on Kashmir. United States, which indeed has been dictating this world body after the end of cold war, needs to re-asses its role for giving Kashmiris their right. If this super power can invade Iraq and Afghanistan to give freedom to their people, should not it do some favour to Kashmiri people by asking its strategic partner to give Kashmiris their right and stop human rights violations? Then there is a need that, international community and other major powers like China, Russia, UK, France and Germany should also use their influence over India for the resolution of Kashmir dispute.
India should stop violations of human rights and respect UN Charter and its resolutions on the settlement of the dispute. Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris and India should stop harping on its misleading slogan of calling it as its integral part. This all is essential in the context that, Kashmir is becoming a dangerous war zone, threatening regional and global peace, whereas, UNO has to ensure maintenance of international peace and security. For this purpose, UNO has to take effective measures to remove all threats to the peace in conformity with its principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace. Indeed, besides being a threat to international peace, UNO has legal obligations for the resolution of Kashmir dispute as per the wishes of its subjects; therefore, an assertive role of this world body is immediately needed.
The writer is a Professor and Head of International Relations Department in NDU.