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The Rediff Special/ Arvind Lavakare

A record for international impotency

Kashmir: The Real Story

It is unbelievable but true, fit for inclusion alongside some of the other nauseating records in the Guinness Book. Ever since India complained to it in January 1948 about Pakistan's aggression in Jammu and Kashmir, the United Nations Security Council debated over it from thence till May 18, 1964 when all that it concluded with was the statement by its then president that 'The India-Pakistan question remains on the agenda of the Security Council'. A record, surely, for international impotency.

After 11 Security Council resolutions stretching between January 17, 1948 and December 2, 1957, two resolutions of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP -- established by the Security Council's Resolution of January 20, 1948) and two official statements of the incumbent Security Council president -- all of these documented with this writer -- Pakistan continues to retain more than one-third of the independent territory it invaded in October 1947.

India -- to which that entire independent territory legally belonged -- has been left not only sucking its thumb and licking the wounds of sponsored cross-border terrorism, but also with the unsolicited hectoring by all and sundry, from Nelson Mandela's Africa to Monica Lewinsky's America. Two of world history's gravest ironies characterise this marathon, half-a-century filibuster of international intervention in what was essentially 'a simple and straightforward issue.'

The first paradox is that India's complaint against Pakistan about the invasion of Kashmir remains unresolved after over 50 years though, by its very first Resolution (of January 17, 1948), the Security Council recognised 'the urgency of the situation'.

The second irony is contained in the last Security Council statement on the subject; it was the statement made by the Council's president wherein we were told of the view expressed by some Council members that 'the negotiations between India and Pakistan might be complicated by any outside intervention.' That, believe it or not, was the Security Council president's statement on May 18, 1964 -- a good eight years before the Simla Agreement of July 3, 1972 echoed the same view when India and Pakistan 'resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them.'

Here then is the classical case of justice delayed as well as denied. One can therefore understand why every Indian government has, for over three decades, avoided, like the plague, any outside intervention to settle the Kashmir issue and to harp, instead, on bilateral talks.

New Approach Needed

But to be brutally honest, such bilateral talks over the last 50 years have turned out to be what Nawaz Sharief, Pakistan's current prime minister, recently dubbed as sterile. It was no different at the SAARC meet at Colombo in July last year and at the NAM summit at Durban a few weeks later; it would have been a miracle if it had been different on the sidelines of the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly where the initial euphoria of early breakthrough in Indo-Pak relations was doused by the Pakistan foreign minister's emphasis on Kashmir being the core issue and wanting a third party to monitor the bilateral talks

Lahore seems to have been no different. Zero, or nearly zero, is bound to be the outcome when each side sticks to its long-held position with India saying that Kashmir is not a disputed territory and Pakistan insisting it is. Clearly, a new approach is required if the Kashmir conundrum is to be confined to history, leaving us to get on single-mindedly with the much more pressing problems of socio-economic development of the Kashmiri people as well as of others in India.

Towards this end, Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of The Indian Express, had, in a signed article in July last year, asked the nation to seriously consider a settlement on the basis of the existing Line of Control which divides Pakistan Occupied Kashmir from the rest of the state. Quickly enough a controversy erupted and it was back to the good old Simla Agreement. Later, Gupta reiterated his view, convinced that the politicians knew, in their heart of hearts, that the LOC agreement was the only possible one under the circumstances.

Then there is the proposal mooted by Rajeshwar Dayal, former secretary in our external affairs ministry. Writing in The Times of India of July 30 last year, he advocated that India should not shy away from tackling the Kashmir issue head-on with Pakistan. His contention is that Pakistan will not be able to justify its claim because it did not fulfill the primary condition of withdrawing its forces from Kashmir as laid down in the UN resolutions and because the principle of self-determination cannot, according to accepted UN doctrine, be applied to areas within a state but only to colonial situations.

However, having refuted Pakistan's case, all that Dayal proposes is a 'provisional agreement' whereby each other's interests are harmonised while side-stepping the issue of sovereignty. Thus Dayal suggests that India's offer of a no-first-use nuclear pact and Pakistan's proposal of a non-aggression agreement could be combined, Pakistan's tourists could be allowed in Kashmir and similar confidence- building measures could be packaged for immediate implementation while the Kashmir issue itself could await settlement till relations are restored to normal.

Now the idea of 'confidence-building measures ' has been tried before but without success. Pakistan is interested in the core issue: the sovereignty of Kashmir. This focus has become sharper after the brouhaha raised by the G-5 countries over India's nuclear tests in May last year. In any case, Dayal's proposal hardly seems 'a head-on' approach. And it does seem an irony that Dayal, who now argues against self-determination in a state, was India's representative to the UN Security Council in 1951, by which time India had accepted that 'The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or to Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.' Security council, Resolution of January 5, 1949).

That the idea of a plebiscite in Kashmir was illegal right from its ruler's accession to India on October 26, 1947, and is totally irrelevant now will be seen later on in this series. What concerns us here are the new alternatives that have recently surfaced with the aim of resolving India's Kashmir impasse.

Thus, a call for the urgent need for our diplomats to change the course of the national discourse on Kashmir was made by M D Nalapat, a senior editor of The Times of India in his analysis which appeared in that newspaper's Mumbai edition of September 5, 1998. 'Rather than react as scalded cats whenever an international statesman utters the word, "Kashmir",' wrote Nalapat, 'New Delhi needs to alter the context of such references from a dispute between India and Pakistan to that of an Indian state becoming a theatre for cross border terrorist operations.'

As the first step in that direction, wrote Nalapat, 'attention needs to be drawn to Pakistan's refusal to accept the primary condition of the United Nations resolutions, which was its withdrawal from the areas occupied by it.' He advocates a proactive strategy that confronts world opinion over conditions in Kashmir with a view to turning the spotlight from a two-country 'dispute' to the fundamentalist war being waged by a religious state against a moderate, secular one. In sum, Nalapat recommends that New Delhi mount a diplomatic offensive similar to that in 1971 when Pakistan's genocide in Bangladesh was exposed to the world.

An aggressive approach, but with a different content, has also been recommended by Lieutenant General Chandra Shekhar, vice-chief of our army staff. Addressing a discussion in New Delhi on September 4, 1998, he lamented that 'our point of view is not being effectively projected. We need to aggressively convey our point of view.' He pointed out that there had been considerable distortions of historical facts abroad 'even though legally, morally and factually our position is strong.'

Legally, morally and factually -- those are the vital words. And viewed over historical developments in Jammu and Kashmir since October 1947, India's position is certainly strong though, sadly, it took a battering in the United Nations because our weak and meek international diplomacy had neither done its homework nor been put to searching scrutiny by a nation that could see no wrong in what Jawaharlal Nehru did, either at home or abroad. That near blind faith was to be burst with the Chinese crackers of 1962 -- long after Kashmir had been allowed to become a millstone around the nation's neck.

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