Kashmir: UN Security Council Must Abide By Its Commitment

kashmir army

The aftermath of partition of India had varied consequences; some were short term while others were long term. The unresolved long term consequence was and is the Kashmir dispute. Jammu and Kashmir was India’s largest princely state in 1947, with both an area of 84,471 sq. miles and international boundaries with China and Afghanistan. In 1945–46, the J&K regime collected Rs. 58 million in taxes, rents, fees, fines and earnings, 3 of which revenues the ruler and his family appropriated some 15 per cent.On 1 August 1947, Maharaja Sir Hari Singh’s (then ruler) princely state comprised three provinces: Jammu, Kashmir, and the Frontier Districts.While it was easy to determine the administrative composition of J&K on 1 August 1947, it was more difficult to determine the ruler’s or the people’s political aspirations in relation to the future of the diverse, disparate and disunified princely state. By 15 August 1947, Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, the ruler of J&K, was one of the few rulers of a major princely state who had not made an accession. “He disliked the idea of becoming a part of India, which was being democratized, or of Pakistan which was Muslim…he thought of independence”. He wanted to maintain the status quo ante, thus, offered to sign standstill agreement with both India and Pakistan aimed at continuing the existing relationship pending his final decision regarding the future of the state. Pakistan signed this agreement but no standstill agreement was concluded between the state and India.

While the whole Indian sub-continent witnessed the serious inter-religious violence, same mayhem was spotted in the Poonch and Mirpur regions of Jammu. The immediate detonation was the tribal invasion which worsened the situation more. Soon after this, faced with serious crisis, Maharaja Hari Singh at last with the great reluctance wrote to Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor-General of India. Attached to the letter was the Instrument of Accession duly signed by the Maharaja Hari Singh.However, this Instrument of Accession was a bit different from those signed with the other states in a way stated that the ultimate future will be decided by the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Maharaja retained the residual sovereignty and acceded only on three condition ; defence, external affairs and communication. At dawn on the 27th October, 1947, the first plane left Delhi for Srinagar with troops and arms aboard.

However, this resulted in division of Jammu and Kashmir into two; Indian administered Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir (or ‘Azaad’ Kashmir). Nehru was of the opinion that India must come to some ‘rapid and more or less final decisions about Kashmir with the Pakistan government. On 1st January 1948 India decided to take the Kashmir issue to the United Nations. Through January and February the UN Security Council held several sittings on Kashmir. Kashmir problem was recast as part of the unfinished business of partition and the UN Security Council altered the agenda item from ‘Jammu and Kashmir question’ to ‘India-Pakistan question’. The result of the deliberations at the floor of the Security Council was the number of resolutions passed till date, among which resolution no.38 (1948), 39(1948), 47(1948), 80(1949), and 91(1951) are pertinent to mention here. The nucleus of all these resolutions is the demilitarization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and  a plebiscite to ascertain the will of the people which would be held by an impartial body UN Commission for India and Pakistan,established by UNSC resolution no. 39(1948). However, these resolutions were never implemented. Although the commission was established as early as in 1948 which later paved the way for a peacekeeping operation (UNMOGIP) later, but it was soon terminated by the resolution no.91 (1951). The UNMOGIP still maintains its presence in both Indian-administered-Kashmir and Pakistan-administered-Kashmir. The presence of UNMOGIP in Kashmir is much more than a mere peacekeeping mission with limited mandate. There is an emotional bond which can be reflected by the fact that protesting Kashmiris do not go to Ministers’ offices; they invariably head for the office in Srinagar of the UNMOGIP. People of Kashmir perceive it as a minaret of hope and despite knowing that this body has a limited mandate of only observing the cease fire line, people with all hope and enthusiasm agitate their demands before the UNMOGIP building. For over past sixty five years the blue gate, the white and blue building and blue flag, with white emblem showing world map surrounded by two olive branches hoisted on a long pole has been a symbol of hope and despair for people of the state (description of building of UNMOGIP).Notwithstanding, disappointment with the United Nations Security Council, people of the State living on both the sides of the LoC have been looking at the UNMOGIP offices as temples of their cherished ‘Rights’.

UNSC is empowered to extend the mandate of this peacekeeping mission to accommodate those areas which are not covered under its mandate. It can extend its mandate to report human rights violations which are more prevalent in this state. UNSC has extended the mandate of various peacekeeping and interim operations working under its supervision by passing a resolution. Recently (May 2017), it has extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force for Abyei (UNISFA) — including its tasks in support of the disputed territory’s Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism — while warning that that support would be withdrawn unless Sudan and South Sudan complied fully with their obligations.The UNSC must re-assert its role as a guardian of world peace and make every effort to implement the resolution on Kashmir. This is not a difficult task one has seen UNSC crack the whip when it really wants to implement its resolution. Notwithstanding the fact, the resolutions are not enforceable through intervention of force; UNSC can collectively deploy its political power to force a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. UNSC can also sou- moto take cognizance of the Kashmir issue and follow it by enforcement action. Once the council has determined that there is threat to the peace or an act of aggression has been committed, it is empowered to take enforcement action under Chapter VII of the Charter of UN charter.

Mehnaz Ajaz is a Kashmiri researcher


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