Brig Anil Gupta
India has a made very strong appeal for permanently removing the Jammu and Kashmir issue under outdated agenda item of the India-Pakistan question from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) agenda. India’s demand is fair and justified. Since the abrogation of special status for the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation into 2 union territories in August 2019, Pakistan along with China tried to raise the matter 3 times.The attempts have met with failure with informal closed-door discussions happening with no outcomes and other members of the council reiterating that Kashmir is a bilateral India-Pakistan issue. As per the UN records Kashmir was formally raised at UNSC the last time on November 5, 1965. It was first taken as an issue on January 6, 1948 after India declared a unilateral ceasefire consequent to the Pak aggression to forcibly annex J&K that began formally in October 1947. Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltor in 1965 to once again forcibly annex Kashmir but failed miserably this time as well.
After the signing of Shimla Agreement as an aftermath of Indo-Pak 1971 war, the issue was accepted to be resolved by both the nations bilaterally. But Pakistan like the earlier UNSC resolutions showed scant respect for the Shimla Pact also and waged a proxy war backed by “religious terrorism” in Jammu & Kashmir in 1989-90.
Immediately after the signing of Shimla Agreement India informed the UNSC of the futility of continuing with the United Nations Military Observers Group (UNMOG) but UNSC continued to retain it at the insistence of Pakistan. For thirty years Pakistan played havoc in Jammu & Kashmir through state sponsored terrorism resulting in loss of valuable lives and property. Taking advantage of the special provisions in the Indian Constitution for J&K, Pakistan promoted separatism through the Hurriyat Conference, a creation of the Deep State in Pakistan. India finally acted on 05 August 2019 by abrogating the special provisions and bifurcating the state into two Union Territories. It was a unique and historic step towards removing all barriers which prevented state’s complete integration with the nation and also settled the issue for once and all. Pakistan was made irrelevant except for the fact that it remained in illegal occupation of more than half of the erstwhile state’s territory referred as Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (POJK). Pakistan, the aggressor, was told in no uncertain terms that it would have to vacate POJK. Rattled Pakistan tried to internationalise the issue and seek international support but suffered shameful humiliation including from its Muslim allies. Except for China and Turkey no other country backs Pakistan. China being a permanent member of UNSC, has tried unsuccessfully to raise the issue at the insistence of Pakistan. The last failed effort was made in August this year to coincide with Pakistan’s Black Day celebrations to protest against India’s unilateral action of 05 August 2019. India’s stand was firm and unequivocal that all its actions were justified as it was India’s internal issue and Pakistan had no locus standi to object.
India in its statement in the Report of the Security Council for 2019 has demanded Kashmir’s permanent removal from the United Nations Security Council’s agenda, something Pakistan keeps on raking. India minced no words when it said, “there is a delegation that repeatedly attempts to rebrand itself as contributing to international peace, but unfortunately fails to recognise that it is globally known for being the fountainhead of international terror and the hub of terror syndicates.”
In the statement, India also hit out at Pakistan and said that a delegation keeps pushing for discussions on an outdated agenda item in the Council which for all matter needs to be removed from the Council’s agenda permanently. Pakistan blames the UNSC for failure to ensure implementation of its own resolutions and decisions but the whole world recognises the fact that the sole defaulter is Pakistan.
Undoubtedly, the issue is outdated as suggested by two former secretary generals of the council. Secretary General Boutros Ghali wanted to remove the Kashmir issue from the UN agenda in 1995 and his successor Kofi Annan had declared that a resolution under Chapter VI passed half a century ago is “unimplementable”. Boutros Ghali had even gone as far as to say that “starting negotiations on a new slate is more important than relying on past legalistic interpretations of UN resolutions.” He was clearly hinting at both nations to talk and mutually resolve but Pakistan never displayed the political will to talk except during the period of Musharraf but his suggested formula was unacceptable to India.
As far back as 1957, Gunnar Jarring, UN mediator on Kashmir, had stated that “the implementation of international agreements of an ad-hoc nature which has not been achieved fairly speedily may become progressively more difficult because the situation with which they were to cope has tended to change”. Really prophetic words and there is no doubt that much water has flown through the Jhelum since then.
Even in 2002, when US-Pakistan relations were strong, the then US assistant secretary of state while disposing before the US house international relations subcommittee had admitted, “in the US view the UN resolutions of the 40s on Kashmir had been superseded by the Shimla Agreement.” India on its part had repeatedly told Pakistan to stop abetting and promoting terror so that all issues including Kashmir can be discussed bilaterally and resolved. But Pakistan persisted with terror and continued with its tactics of using terror as an instrument of state policy.
China has its own axe to grind. While it needs the POJK to develop a road link to the Arabian Sea, it also needs Pak as a proxy against India. Hence, China encourages Pakistan to keep the pot boiling in Kashmir and keep the issue alive. It uses its permanent seat in the UNSC to further Pakistan’s nefarious designs. While demanding the permanent removal of the issue of J&K under the outdated agenda, India rightly said, “Such irrational exuberance has no takers in a dignified world.”
Pakistan, backed by China, has only been able to bring up the issue informally under closed door meetings which carry no meaning since these meetings have no records and there is no outcome. Pakistan as usual has reacted to Indian demand by saying that Indians are “deluding” themselves. But the absolute fact is that the issue of Kashmir has not been discussed by the UNSC for last 55 years. As mentioned earlier the last three meetings eluded by Pakistan are inconsequential and mere time wasters.
The entire equation of the Kashmir issue has changed now consequent to the resolutions passed by the Indian parliament on August 5&6, 2019. Pakistan’s reason that “The UN Military Observers are stationed in Kashmir and ceasefire violations are reported daily to the Security Council. This is proof that this dispute remains under the active consideration of the UNSC and is no way outdated,” is highly illogical and false since the ceasefire violations are unilateral and unprovoked and initiated by Pakistan to internationalise an issue that is otherwise bilateral as agreed at Shimla.
Even the current UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his statement last August clearly referred to the 1972 bilateral Shimla Agreement. Thus time has come for the UNSC to accede to Indian demand and permanently delete the issue of J&K from the outdated agenda item of the India-Pakistan question from its agenda. Along with it the UNOMG should be permanently closed. This would also help India to resolve the issue of POJK speedily.
(The author is a Jammu based veteran, political commentator, columnist, security and strategic analyst.)
Brig Anil Gupta