By L. C. Kaul
It is not unoften that leaders of some political parties and ministers and others, in India and Pakistan and other countries, put forth suggestions, to resolve Kashmir imbroglio,. Unfortunately they do not take into consideration, basic issues and facts and historical events which have taken place, from 1947 till date. These issues, facts and historical events are as under:-
1. In accordance with the provisions of Indian Independence Act 1947, passed by the British Parliament, the subcontinent of India was partitioned into India and Pakistan. The rulers of 600 and odd number of princely states of British India Empire were given option to accede to India or Pakistan or assume independent polity, keeping in view the geographical realities.
2. From 15th August to 26-27th October 1947, the Maharaja of J & K State, remained independent. Pakistan had signed a ‘standstill’ agreement with Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of the state.
3. Sheikh Abdullah was released from prison on September 29, 1947. At that time he had not made up his mind on whether J & K state should accede to India or to Pakistan. Sheikh Abdullah deputed G. M. Sadiq to go to Pakistan and find out how much internal autonomy Mr. Jinnah was willing to give in case J & K decided to accede to Pakistan. Sheikh Abdullah himself also planned on visiting New Delhi to gauge how much autonomy India was ready to provide J &K
4. Despite Pakistan having signed a ‘standstill’ agreement with Maharaja Hari Singh, Pakistan dispatched tribesmen in October, 1947, assisted and guided by its army to invade the valley and thereby forcibly annex the sovereign state.
5. To repel the unprovoked invasion from Pakistan, the Maharaja requested the Govt, of India to help the State. That was possible only after accession of the state to India.
6. The accession took place on 26th October, 1947 which was endorsed by the State’s premier political party, National Conference, led by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. Thus J & K state became an integral part of India.
7. Consequent upon accession, the Indian army rushed to the rescue of the state, to repel the Pakistan sponsored aggression. The Indian army could have taken the war into the territory of Pakistan but at that time, under the influence of the then Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten, the issue of aggression by Pakistan was referred to the U.N. by India.
8. Subsequently India and Pakistan accepted U.N. cease-fire call in January 1949 which left the State of J & K divided into two parts viz (i) Kashmir as part of India, (ii) Kashmir under Pakistan’s illegal occupation (PoK).
9. The PoK was divided by Pakistan into a region called ‘Azad Kashmir’ having an area of 13,528 Sq. Kms. While the remaining area of 72,595 Sq. Kms. Were labelled together into what is called its “Northern Areas” which is controlled and ruled directly by Pakistan, through Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad.
10. The people of Northern Areas have been demanding separate entity to themselves. In October 1990, residents of Northern Areas filed a petition in the “Azad Kashmir” High Court, demanding clarification in respect of the status of the Northern Areas, pleading that if they were part of the State of J & K on 15th August 1947, they should be reverted to the control of the Govt, of “Azad Kashmir”.
11. On several occasions Pakistan acknowledged Northern Areas (comprising former Gilgat Agency, Gilgat Wazarat, Baltistan, Asotor Wazarat, Skardu Tehsil of Ladakh Wazarat) as parts of J & K State.
12. The people of Northern Areas has Shia majority. Azad Kashmir has sunni majority.
They have been emotionally separated from each other by occasional Shia-Sunni riots. The people of Northern Areas have been subjected to a variety of atrocities and discrimination under the Pakistan rule. People of this region have strongly resisted their absorption into Pakistan. The stand of Azad Kashmir has been that Northern Areas were ruled by Dogras on lease but never actually removed from the ownership of Maharaja. The lease had reverted after the British left.
In 1993, the Azad Kashmir High Court had declared that the Northern Areas was legally part of the State of J &K and should be reverted to the control of Govt, of Azad Kashmir.
13. According to latest reports, Pakistan P.M. Yusuf Raza Gilani has announced renaming of the Northern Areas as “Gilgit-Baltistan”, by virtue of the “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009”, aimed at giving the Northern/Areas “full internal autonomy” as approved by Pakistan cabinet. The newly formed province will have rights akin to those of Pakistan’s four provinces, with an elected assembly as well as a Governor and a Chief Minister.
14. Another area (comprising Shaksgam Muztag valley), about 10,000 Sqr. Kms. was illegally ceded by Pakistan to China in March 1993.
15. Resolution 47 (1948) on the India and Pakistan question, submitted jointly by the representatives for Belgium, Canada, China, Columbia, the United Kindgom and the United States of America and adopted by the Security Council at its 286th meeting held on April 21, 1948, regarding restoration of peace and order in the valley which postulated that “the Govt, of Pakistan should undertake to use its best endeavours to secure the withdrawal from the State of J & K, of tribesmen and Pakistani Nationals, not normally residents therein who have entered the state for the purposes of fighting and to prevent any intrusion into the state of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the State”.
16. U.N. Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) stated in August 1948 that occupation of territory in Kashmir by the Pakistani troops constituted material change in the situation.
17. Within a decade of the plebiscite resolution having been adopted by the U.N., its representative Gunnar Jarring, opined that with the passage of time and changing circumstances in the state, U.N. resolutions were obsolete. This view was endorsed by the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, during the course of his visit to Pakistan and India, during May, 2001.
18. From January 1948 to December 1957, the U.N. passed 14 resolutions when the Kashmir issue was first referred to the U.N. In December 1947, the G O I wrote to the Security Council… “But in order to avoid any possible suggestion that India had utilised the State’s immediate peril for her own political advantage, the G O I makes it clear that once the soil of the state had been cleared of the invader and normal conditions restored, its people will be free to decide their future by the recognized method of plebiscite or referendum which might be held under international auspices”.
19. Pakistan failed to comply with U.N. resolutions by not withdrawing from the occupied area of J & K. In consequence the plebiscite proposal remained unimplemented and as time has gone by, the proposal got consigned to the dust-bin of history.
20. India has the 2nd largest Muslim population in the world, enjoying equality of status, opportunities and fundamental rights, as a result of which members of the minority community are holding high positions in various fields in India. Our civilization has its foundations in the concept of harmoniously co-existing cultures, faith in the vision of the country, enshrined in the constitution of Indian Republic.
21. There are numerous examples of centuries old shining communal harmony between various communities in India and Kashmir. In particular Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims have a distinct identity, cultural, linguistic and otherwise. The common heritage of Lalleshwari and Sheikh Nooruddin or Nund Rishi, is the cornerstone of Kashmiriat. The present trauma imposed by forces inimical to the concept of harmoniously co-existing cultures, is a passing phase and is bound to come to a close sooner or later. Kashmir has a unique place in the cultural and religious mosaic that is India. The State of J & K with a predominantly Muslim population, is an ode to secularism. Mahatma Gandhi considered Kashmir’s ethos as a shining example of pluralism.
22. It is pertinent to quote the following extract from Mir Qasim’s autobiographical book ‘My Life & Times’ :
“The Sheikh told the Times (in London in March 1972) that there is no quarrel with the G O I over accession; it is over the structure of internal autonomy. One must not forget that it was we who brought Kashmir to India; otherwise Kashmir could never have become a part of India’. Earlier on 5/2/1972, in New Delhi, Mirza Afzal Beg, President of the plebiscite front had declared, “We are willing to talk to the Centre on the basis of internal autonomy for J&K. We want to the Centre on the basis of internal autonomy for J&K. We want the accession to be put on a lasting foundation. The question of accession has become irrelevant to us; we no more insist on plebiscite”.
Kashmir is, and always has been, an integral part of India. Kashmir was never divided by the British. It acceded to India by an Instrument of Accession in October 1947 which is recognised valid under international law.
India is a secular democracy. India has more Muslims than Pakistan and minorities in India enjoy incomparable privileges. Two of India’s Presidents have been Muslims.
Pakistan never complied with UN resolution requiring it to withdraw from Kashmir and to hand over entire territory back to India which was a prerequisite to any plebiscite in Kashmir.
Since then there have been several elections in the state of J&K on the basis of universal suffrage.
Under the Simla Agreement of 1972, India and Pakistan are required to refrain from use of force and to sort out bilateral issues by negotiations and not by internationalization of the issue, and as such the UN has no jurisdiction on Kashmir. President Bush had also called for negotiation under Simla Agreement.
The root cause is the ongoing conspiracy of Pakistan to grab forcibly Jammu and Kashmir from India. Over the past many years, Pakistan has engaged in inciting religious frenzy among the Muslims in the Valley and supply then with all sorts of sophisticated arms to wage a ‘jihad’ against India.
The militants are running a campaign of terror in the Valley by indulging in arson, kidnapping, bombing, murders and religious blandishments. The Pakistan sponsored international terrorism has been targeting victims that include not only ordinary has been targeting victims that include not only ordinary citizens but also top personalities in academic, journalistic and government echelons.
Since the United States provides military aid and sophisticated weapons to Pakistan, it is shocking to most US citizens to learn how their hard earned tax money is being used to support the Pakistan government that sponsors and supports terrorism, preaches religious fundamentalism and is involved in drug trafficking.
Pakistan’s tirade against India revolves around certain UN resolution concerning demilitarization and plebiscite in J&K. Pakistanis have been propagating that India had failed to fulfil the UN resolution. The facts are quite to the contrary. It is Pakistan that has never fulfilled its obligations under the UN resolutions.
Though the ceasefire came into effect on January 1, 1949, Pakistan failed to implement part II of the UNCIP resolution. The failure to hold a plebiscite was entirely the result of Pakistan’s default to carry out, within a reasonable time, the obligations imposed upon her by the UN resolutions, as conditions precedent for holding a plebiscite. Subsequently, the international context has changed completely. Accession of J&K to the Indian Union has been confirmed by an elected J&K Constituent Assembly. A number of elections have also been held at the national, state and local levels and the people of the state have repeatedly and freely exercised their democratic choice. Any talk, of plebiscite is obviously meaningless. The only issue which remains to be settled is vacation by Pakistan of its illegal occupation of parts of J&K.
The 1972 Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan united with reference to J&K: “In Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control resulting from the ceasefire of December 17, 1971 shall be suspected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it taleterally irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides without prejudice to the recognised position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it ….terally irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat on the use of force in violation of this line”.
The Simla Agreement does not permit taking any bilateral differences to international fora without mutual agreement. Despite this commitment, however, Pakistan has repeatedly sought to internationalize this issue.
Pakistan must realise that it cannot afford to remain perpetually at variance and daggers drawn against India but reconcile to arrive at an amicable settlement for peace and progress in both the countries.
The seeds to a solution of the J&K problems are inherent in the Simla Agreement which implies bifurcation by treating LoC as the international border, a considered view, often reiterated by Dr Farooq Abdullah.
It is also pertinent to draw attention to the unanimous resolution, adopted on 22/2/1994, by the Parliament of India which declares unambiguously and firmly that the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been, is and shall be integral part of India.
In the light of the above background, it is thus abundantly clear that the state of Jammu and Kashmir, is an integral part of India and accession of the State of J&K to the Union of India, is irrevocable.
*(The author is Chairman AIKS Trust).