Kashmir, the oldest dispute at the UN Agenda

The current agitation in Indian-Held Kashmir is rooted in the struggle of the people for the exercise of the right of self-determination

Kashmir, the oldest dispute at the UN Agenda

World Bulletin/News Desk

The Kashmir dispute is the oldest unresolved international conflict in the world today. Pakistan considers Kashmir as its core political dispute with India. So does the international community, except India.

India's forcible occupation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 is the main cause of the dispute. India claims to have ‘signed' a controversial document, the Instrument of Accession, on 26 October 1947 with the Maharaja of Kashmir, in which the Maharaja obtained India's military help against popular insurgency. The people of Kashmir and Pakistan do not accept the Indian claim. There are doubts about the very existence of the Instrument of Accession. The United Nations also does not consider Indian claim as legally valid: it recognizes Kashmir as a disputed territory. With the exception of India, the entire world community recognizes Kashmir as a disputed territory. The fact is that all the principles on the basis of which the Indian subcontinent was partitioned by the British in 1947 justify Kashmir becoming a part of Pakistan: the State had majority Muslim population, and it not only enjoyed geographical proximity with Pakistan but also had essential economic linkages with the territories constituting Pakistan.

History of the dispute

The State of Jammu and Kashmir has historically remained independent, except in the anarchical conditions of the late 18th and first half of the 19th century, or when incorporated in the vast empires set up by the Mauryas (3 rd century BC), the Mughals (16th to 18th century) and the British (mid-19th to mid-20th century). All these empires included not only present-day India and Pakistan but some other countries of the region as well. Until 1846, Kashmir was part of the Sikh empire. In that year, the British defeated the Sikhs and sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh of Jammu for Rs. 7.5 million under the Treaty of Amritsar. Gulab Singh, the Mahraja, signed a separate treaty with the British which gave him the status of an independent princely ruler of Kashmir. Gulab Singh died in 1857 and was replaced by Rambir Singh (1857-1885). Two other Marajas, Partab Singh (1885-1925) and Hari Singh (1925-1949) ruled in succession.

Gulab Singh and his successors ruled Kashmir in a tyrannical and repressive way. The people of Kashmir, nearly 80 per cent of who were Muslims, rose against Maharaja Hari Singh's rule. He ruthlessly crushed a mass uprising in 1931. In 1932, Sheikh Abdullah formed Kashmir's first political party—the All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference (renamed as National Conference in 1939). In 1934, the Maharaja gave way and allowed limited democracy in the form of a Legislative Assembly. However, unease with the Maharaja's rule continued. According to the instruments of partition of India, the rulers of princely states were given the choice to freely accede to either India or Pakistan, or to remain independent. They were, however, advised to accede to the contiguous dominion, taking into consideration the geographical and ethnic issues.

In Kashmir, however, the Maharaja hesitated. The principally Muslim population, having seen the early and covert arrival of Indian troops, rebelled and things got out of the Maharaja's hands. The people of Kashmir were demanding to join Pakistan. The Maharaja, fearing tribal warfare, eventually gave way to the Indian pressure and agreed to join India by, as India claims, ‘signing' the controversial Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947. Kashmir was provisionally accepted into the Indian Union pending a free and impartial plebiscite. This was spelled out in a letter from the Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten, to the Maharaja on 27 October 1947. In the letter, accepting the accession, Mountbatten made it clear that the State would only be incorporated into the Indian Union after a reference had been made to the people of Kashmir. Having accepted the principle of a plebiscite, India has since obstructed all attempts at holding a plebiscite.

In 1947, India and Pakistan went to war over Kashmir. During the war, it was India which first took the Kashmir dispute to the United Nations on 1 January 1948. The following year, on 1 January 1949, the UN helped enforce ceasefire between the two countries. The ceasefire line is called the Line of Control. It was an outcome of a mutual consent by India and Pakistan that the UN Security Council (UNSC) and UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) passed several resolutions in years following the 1947-48 war. The UNSC Resolution of 21 April 1948--one of the principal UN resolutions on Kashmir—stated that “both India and Pakistan desire that the question of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite”. Subsequent UNSC Resolutions reiterated the same stand. UNCIP Resolutions of 3 August 1948 and 5 January 1949 reinforced UNSC resolutions.

KASHMIR ISSUE IN A NUTSHELL

The current agitation in Indian-Held Kashmir is rooted in the struggle of the people for the exercise of the right of self-determination. Peaceful processions chanting demands for freedom were fired upon by Indian Army and police. Thousands of men, women and children have been killed or wounded.

1. New Delhi's allegation of assistance to the Kashmiri people from the Pakistan side is unfounded. Objective reports in foreign media testify that the Kashmiri agitation is indigenous.

2. Pakistan upholds the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to self-determination in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. These resolutions of 1948 and 1949 provide for the holding of a free and impartial plebiscite for the determination of the future of the state by the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

3. The basic points about the UN resolution are that:

• The complaint relating to Kashmir was initiated by India in the Security Council;
• The Council explicitly and by implications, rejected India's claim that Kashmir is legally Indian territory;
• The resolutions established self-determination as the governing principal for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute. This is the world body's commitment to the people of Kashmir;
• The resolutions endorsed a binding agreement between India and Pakistan reached through the mediation of UNCIP, that a plebiscite would be held, under agreed and specified conditions.

1. The Security Council has rejected the Indian contention that the people of Kashmir have exercised their right of self-determination by participating in the "election" which India has from time to time organized in the Held Kashmir. The 0.2% turn out during the 1989 "elections" was the most recent clear repudiation of the Indian claim.

2. Pakistan continues to adhere to the UN resolutions. These are binding also on India.

3. The Simla Agreement of 2 July 1972, to which Pakistan also continues to adhere, did not alter the status of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory:

• Para 6 of the Agreement lists “a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir" as one of the outstanding questions awaiting a settlement.

• Para 4 (ii) talks of a "Line of Control" as distinguished from an international border. Furthermore, it explicitly protects "the recognized position of either side." The recognized position of Pakistan is the one, which is recognized by the United Nations and the World Community in general.

• Article 1(iv) obviously refers to the Kashmir issue when it talks of "the basic issues and causes of conflict which have bedeviled the relations between the two countries for the last 25 year.

The government of Pakistan and Government of India are resolved that the two countries put an end to the conflict and confrontation that have hitherto marred their relations and work for the promotion of a friendly and harmonious relationship and the establishment of durable peace in the subcontinent, so the both countries may henceforth devote their resources and energies to the pressing task of advancing the welfare of their people. 

In order to achieve this objective, the Government of Pakistan and the Government of India have agreed as follows: 

i) That the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries; 

ii) That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them. Pending the final settlement of any of the problems between the two countries, neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation and both shall prevent the organization, assistance and encouragement of any acts detrimental to the maintenance of peaceful and harmonious relations; 

iii) That the pre-requisite for reconciliation, good neighbor lines and durable peace between them is a commitment by both the countries to peaceful co-existence, respect for each other's territorial integrity; and sovereignty and non-interference in each other internal affairs, on the basis of equality and mutual benefit; 

iv) That the basic issues and causes of conflict which have bedeviled the relations between the two countries for the last 25 years shall be resolved by peaceful means; 

v) That they shall always respect each other's national unity, territorial integrity, political independence and sovereign equality; 

vi) That in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations they will refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of each other.  Both Governments will take all steps within their power to prevent hostile propaganda directed against each other. Both countries will encourage the dissemination of such information as would promote the development of friendly relations between them. 

In order progressively to restore and normalize relations between the two countries step by step, it was agreed that: 

i) Steps shall be taken to resume communications postal, telegraphic, sea, land including border posts, and air links including over flights. 

ii) Appropriate steps shall be taken to promote travel facilities for the nationals of the other countries.

iii) Trade and co-operation in economic and other agreed fields will be resumed as far as possible. 

iv) Exchange in the fields of science and culture will be promoted.  In this connection delegations from the two countries will meet from time to time to work out the necessary details. 

In order to initiate the process of the establishment of durable peace, both the Governments agree that: 

i) Pakistani and Indian forces shall be withdrawn to their side of the international border. 

ii) 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. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from threat or the use of force in violation of this Line. 

iii) The withdrawals shall commence upon entry into force of this Agreement and shall be completed within a period of 30 days thereof.  Both governments agree that their respective Heads will meet again at a mutually convenient time in the future and that, in the meanwhile, the representatives of the two sides will meet to discuss further the modalities and arrangements for the establishment of durable peace and normalization of relations, including the questions of repatriation of prisoners of war and 

 Kashmir in the United Nations

  1. Resolution 38 (1948) adopted by the Security Council at its 229th Meeting held on 17 January 1948

  2. Resolution 39 (1948) adopted by the Security Council at its 230th Meeting held on 20 January 1948

  3. Draft Resolution presented by the President of the Security Council and the Rapporteur on 6 February 1948

  4. Resolution 47 (1948) adopted by the Security Council at its 286th Meeting held on 21 April 1948

  5. Resolution 51 (1948) adopted by the Security Council at its 312th Meeting held on 3 June 1948

  6. Resolution adopted by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan on 13 August 1948

  7. Resolution adopted by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan on 5 January 1949

  8. Proposal in respect of Jammu and Kashmir made by General A.G.L. McNaughton, President of the Security Council of the United Nations on 22 December 1949

  9. Resolution 80 (1950) adopted by the Security Council at its 470th Meeting held on 14 March 1950

  10. Resolution 91 (1951) adopted by the Security Council at its 539th Meeting held on 30 March 1951

  11. Resolution 96 (1951) adopted by the Security Council al its 566th Meeting held on 10 November 1951

  12. Resolution 98 (1952) adopted by the Security Council at its 611th Meeting held on 23 December 1952

  13. Resolution 122 (1957) adopted by the Security Council at its 765th Meeting held on 24 January 1957

  14. Draft Resolution presented by Australia, Cuba, U.K. and U.S.A. on 14 February 1957

  15. Resolution 123 (1957) adopted by the Security Council at its 774th Meeting held on 21 February 1957

  16. Draft Resolution presented by Australia, Columbia,Philippines on 16 November 1957

  17. Resolution 126 (1957) adopted by the Security Council at its 808th Meeting held on 2 December 1957

  18. Draft Resolution submitted by Ireland to the Security Council on June 22, 1962

  19. Statement of the President of the Security Council (French Representative) made on the 18 May 1964 at the 1117th Meeting of the Council (Document No. S/PV. 1117, dated the 18 May l964) summarizing the conclusion of the debate on Kashmir

  20. Resolution 209 (1965) adopted by the Security Council at its 1237th Meeting held on 4 September 1965

  21. Resolution 210 (1965) adopted by the Security Council at its 1238th Meeting held on 6 September 1965

  22. Resolution 211 (1965) adopted by the Security Council at its 1242nd Meeting held on 20 September 1965

  23. Resolution 214 (1965) adopted by the Security Council at its 1245th Meeting held on 27 September 1965

  24. Resolution 215 (1965) adopted by the Security Council at its1251st Meeting held on 5 November 1965

  25. Resolution 303 (1971) adopted by the Security Council at its1606th Meeting held on 6 December 1971

  26. Question considered by the Security Council at its 1606th, 1607th and 1608th Meetings held on 4,5 and 6 December 1971

  27. Resolution 307 (1971) adopted by the Security Council at its 1616th Meeting held on 21 December 1971

     

 

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