More than sixty-seven years have passed but Kashmir dispute, one of the oldest unresolved international problems in the world, is still unresolved mainly because of India’s intransigence and UN’s indolence.
While India continues to avoid settlement of the dispute, UN has ignored India’s evasive tactics, adamancy and policy of non-cooperation and has yielded to India’s gimmickry and cunning manipulations. The experience of six decades proves that India will not give in to Kashmiris’ aspirations. This single fact can become a flashpoint of an all-out nuclear war between two neighbouring nuclear states. Here is a brief look at what has caused this dispute to linger on:
Failure of the United Nations
The international community’s involvement in the Kashmir dispute is a history of repeated frustration and failure. Ironically, in light of India’s later negative attitude toward “internationalizing” the issue, it was New Delhi that first brought Kashmir before the United Nations in January 1948, a few weeks after a series of events in the state that the claimants interpret in wildly different ways triggered a dispute still with us sixty years later.
The United States and Britain quickly took the lead in the Security Council’s efforts to resolve the issue. In the Truman administration’s view, the dispute seemed tailor-made for the fledgling organization’s role as a crisis-manager and problem-solver.
Initially, Washington tended to defer to London as the leader of the Commonwealth and the Subcontinent’s recent imperial master. Other nations played lesser, supporting roles, generally backing US-British initiatives and providing experienced diplomats for a succession of special missions. In the earliest stages, the
Soviet Union generally stood aloof, though it increasingly came to favour the Indian position.
Much of the early action focused on the activities of the five-member United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). The Commission eventually adopted resolutions calling for a ceasefire, withdrawal of forces, and an internationally-supervised plebiscite in which the Kashmiri people would decide whether to join India or Pakistan. A third option, independence, was excluded. Aside from the ceasefire, the UNCIP resolutions were never implemented.
Indian stonewalling was principally to blame: despite it’s official position, New Delhi did not want a plebiscite and was satisfied with the status quo, which gave it the key Kashmir Valley. A series of high-level missions under UN auspices were similarly unproductive in bringing about a settlement. The UN was able to set up a military observers’ group stationed along the ceasefire line. The contingent played a helpful role in calming the situation along the line, at least until the second India-Pakistan War in 1965. The Eisenhower administration’s 1954 decision to enlist Pakistan in the Western security alliance system effectively ended any lingering hope that US-led efforts at the UN could produce a Kashmir settlement.
In Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s view, the Cold War had come to the Subcontinent. The Soviet decision to fully endorse India’s position on Kashmir made it certain that Moscow would veto any proposed UN Kashmir resolution not acceptable to New Delhi. If Washington kept on promoting a role for the UN, it was only to keep its new ally Pakistan reasonably happy, not because it believed that any progress could be made. Other countries recognized the impossibility of resolving the dispute and stayed aloof.
Our claim on Kashmir is based on at least 18 UNSC resolutions. Of the 18, four were adopted in 1948, one in 1950, two in 1951, one in 1952, three in 1957, five in 1965 and remaining two in 1971. Since then, the UN has practically withdrawn from the issue and no other resolution was adopted.
Failed Efforts to Solve Kashmir Issue
Gen A.G.L. McNaughton Demilitarization Plan
Gen A.G.L. McNaughton was appointed to mediate on Kashmir issue. On 29 December 1949, he proposed progressive demilitarization leading to plebiscite, and appointing a UN representative to supervise it. Same was accepted by Pakistan but turned down by India.
Reason for India’s non-acceptance was that distinction between two forces legitimized concept of Azad Kashmir. India also insisted on detaining Indian forces after demilitarization.
Owen Dixon Formula
On 14 March 1950, UN Security Council adopted a resolution, and appointed Owen Dixon from Australia as the UN representative on 10 April 1950 to mediate. Both Pakistan and India promptly accepted his nomination.
Dixon suggested demilitarization of Kashmir before holding plebiscite. He also proposed holding plebiscite in limited area consisting Kashmir Valley and adjacent areas, and division of rest of State between India and Pakistan. Jammu and Ladakh were to go to India and Gilgit-Baltistan to Pakistan.
His proposals were accepted by Pakistan but did not find favour with India since she viewed Pakistan as an aggressor.
Dixon concluded that India would not agree to any arrangement on demilitarization in which Indian troops were made to withdraw or any form of plebiscite unfavourable to India and hence departed.
Commonwealth Leaders’ Plan
Commonwealth Conference, which was held on 16 January 1951, proposed withdrawal of forces from Kashmir by India and Pakistan, and stationing of a Commonwealth Force there. Proposal was accepted by Pakistan but turned down by India.
Frank Graham Proposals
Dr Frank P. Graham was appointed as successor of Dixon on 30 April 1951.
On 7 September, he put forward a 12-point proposal. Disagreement arose on quantum and disposition of troops and induction of plebiscite administrator. Based on the report, Security Council adopted a resolution on 10 November 1951.
In a meeting in Geneva in August 1952, both sides failed to agree on the question of powers of the Plebiscite Administrator and the matter had to be dropped.
On 27 March 1953, Graham informed the Security Council that his efforts to break the impasse on Kashmir had failed. It marked the end of his mission.
Anglo-American resolution was introduced on 5 November 1952 and it suggested India to retain 12000 to 18000 troops and Pakistan to keep 3000 to 6000 on either side of the ceasefire line. This resolution was accepted by Pakistan but rejected by India saying that India wished to retain a minimum number of 28000 armed forces. In Azad Kashmir, it said that there should only be 4000 civil armed forces.
Gunner Jarring Efforts
In February 1957, Security Council decided to send the next UN representative Gunner Jarring of Sweden to find a way-out.
In September 1957, Pakistan offered to withdraw all Pakistani and Azad Kashmir troops from Kashmir if immediately replaced by UN troops. This proposal being very practical and reasonable was welcomed by Jarring but not by India.
Jarring’s abject failure waned the interest of Security Council and the matter was once again consigned to cold freezer till 1962.
1962 Sino-India Border Conflict
During Sino-India conflict in 1962, in response to advice by the US and the UK, President Ayub Khan decided not to exploit the situation in Kashmir and agreed to hold talks with India. Six rounds of talks were held between the two foreign ministers — Swaran Singh and ZA Bhutto — from 26 December 1962 to 16 May 1963 but those proved fruitless.
Simla Agreement in 1972 changed the status of ceasefire line to LoC and policy of bilateralism was adopted, which suited India.
International Court of Justice Mission in 1993
In 1993, ICJ recommended a plebiscite be held in Muslim-majority areas. India rejected it saying it gave strength to ‘two-nation theory’. India labelled it as a blatant attempt to reactivate involvement of UNSC in Kashmir issue, since in her view, UN resolutions had become obsolete after Simla Agreement and had rubbed off scope of any third party.
Judging from current realities, however, it is unfortunate that no real change in the Indian approach is discernable, despite the rhetoric emanating from New Delhi. Their statements are positive but their actions are not. Therefore, there appears little hope for a breakthrough in the foreseeable future.
The improvement in atmospherics in the recent past has raised expectations among the peoples of Pakistan and India as well as the Kashmiris. The solution of this longstanding dispute can no longer be brushed aside or postponed. The rising costs of confrontation and the growing benefits of cooperation have become undeniable forces that press for a durable settlement of Kashmir. India can ill afford to ignore this growing trend and must, therefore, recognize the need for a substantive change in its obdurate Kashmir policy. Pakistan, for its part, needs to continue with its peace offensive, and maintain the momentum for a lasting solution of Kashmir. The Kashmiris themselves must play the most proactive role – intensifying their political struggle while also defending themselves from Indian oppression. Ultimately, the truth that ‘no one can be subjugated against their will’ will triumph.