For the past seventy years the war of words, on the floor of the United Nation’s Security Council on the Kashmir Dispute, has been a routine with India and Pakistan. It, in fact, began, on 30 December 1947, when New Delhi sent a cable to the Security Council, through its representative at UN. The cable, making a complaint under Article 35 of UN charter was delivered on January 1, 1948. On that day the international community became seized of the Kashmir Dispute, which was born 73 days after the birth of India and Pakistan.In the long winding duel of words, that lasted as many as thirteen hours; the two countries created a history of sorts on debates held on the floor of the Security Council.
The marathon debates resulted in the birth of resolutions that recognized the right to self-determination for people of Jammu and Kashmir. This was not something new that the UN Security said, in fact, in its complaint, India had explicitly mentioned “that the people of Jammu and Kashmir would be free to decide their future by recognized democratic method of a plebiscite or referendum which, in order to ensure complete impartially, might be held under international auspices.” New Delhi told this to the United Nation, despite, mentioning that it had sent its troops to Kashmir on the ‘requests made by Hari Singh Maharaja of the State and National Conference of Sheikh Abdullah.’’ (Letter S/628 January 1, 1948).
Of the many resolution passed by the Security Council after hearing the representatives of the two countries in its January 5, 1949 resolution the Council provided an elaborate mechanism for holding of the plebiscite. Despite, India and Pakistan accepting these resolutions and these becoming international agreement, the plebiscite was not held. The, why tagged to it not happening, has many an answers which are hard to encapsulate in this column. Despite, the non-resolution of the Kashmir Dispute causing three wars, couple of military standoffs the leadership of the two countries instead of constructively engaging with the United Nationsfor the resolution of the dispute used this forum for exchanging of harsh words against each other. Moreover, the first prime minister of India, who had enthusiastically taken it to the United Nations instead of addressing the issue, adopted the policy of procrastination – this policy of deferments afterward became the Kashmir policy for the successor governments.
On 29 August 2018, the United Nations UN Security Council under the Agenda item Maintenance of International Peace and Security was debating on meditation and settlement. India and Pakistan that have bagful of disputes hingedto the ‘lead dispute,’ instead of contributing positively to the debate that possibly could have suggested some positive pointers for ending animosity between two South Asian nuclear powers, once again engaged in the war of words. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin while partaking in the debate rightly ‘observed both in the Covenant of the League of Nations and under the Charter of the United Nations, members assumed a larger obligation than heretofore to settle their disputes in a peaceful manner.’ Stating that ‘there are numerous actors and many forms of pacific settlement that may be better suited to address different issues’ he tried making a case against the United Nations indulging in mediations. To quote him, “It is important, however, not to charge the United Nations with responsibilities that it maybe ill-suited to perform. Mediation, in every circumstance, is one such task, it is not geared to fulfill.”
The statement had come in response to the statement made by permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN Maleeha Lodhi. Lodhi giving examples of the successful mediations in Colombia and between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had state that “the international community cannot succeed if the SC’s own resolutions are held in abeyance,and the long-standing dispute over Kashmir remains on the Council’s agenda.’ Tacitly calling for international body for meditation, in the debate she ‘urged the Security Council to make frequent use of the secretary-general’s good offices and other possibilities for mediation and reconciliation.’
Lodhi in stating, while the Council could refer disputes to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an advisory opinion if not a legal decision or adjudication, it should also utilize its mandatory enforcement authority under Chapter VII of the Charter to refer a dispute to the ICJ whose determination would thereafter be binding on the parties, irrespective of whether or not they had accepted the jurisdiction of the Court’ subtly suggested taking of Kashmir to the ICJ. Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin denounced the statement of Pakistan envoy as “a failed approach, which has long been rejected.’
Ostensibly, it seems that Kashmir will once again echo at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 73) that will open on 18 September. India will be represented by the Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan by her counterpart Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Like many other previous annual session, this session will also be marked by the traditional blame game and war of words between the two countries.Nevertheless, there is streak of hope that there will be a thaw in the relations between the two countries. News reports suggest that the foreign ministers of the two countries will meet on the sidelines of the meet.But, there is big question marks, if the meet translates into a sustained, constructive and result-oriented dialogue for the resolution of the dispute and the problems between the two.
Historically, every dialogue between the two countries has ended in the impasse- these impasse at times have caused a military standoffs and clashes along the LOC. It was for of the mediation by some countries that some ceasefireshad happened and some wars between the two countries were prevented. In his opening remarks at the ‘ debate on meditation and settlement,’UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterreswas right in stating that the United Nations must be “bold and creative” in harnessing the avenues and capacities available for mediation. The India-Pakistan dispute that has emerged as a nuclear flashpoint in South-Asia, for ensuring peace in the region has been calling for the mediation that Antonio Guterres talked about in the debate. Even, the article 34 under chapter VI of the UN charter, ‘Pacific Settlement of Disputes’ that Akbaruddin mentioned in his statement empowers the SC to investigate any dispute or any situation which might lead to international friction….’. It is time for Guterres to be “bold and creative” and for“bringing together the avenues and capacities available for mediation” to see India and Pakistan resolve their disputes and live in peace.
Z. G .MUHAMMAD
Columnist and Writer