Col Ajay K Raina
The ongoing annual summit of the United Nations (UN) is witnessing the same old trend-insecure nations like Pakistan using an international, multilateral platform to speak to the audience back home and more mature ones drawing the attention of the world to common and important issues and making own stand clear on those issues. However, such a heterogenous modus-operandi by the member states has been pulling the UN down for a while and for all practical purposes, the UN seems to have lost its purpose and direction. Much like its predecessor, the League of Nations, the UN has been reduced to an ineffective forum. And unless a more inclusive composition of the Security Council is incorporated, and the debatable Veto power concept is progressively modified, there appears to be no hope for this organisation. As regards the much-needed reforms, our PM’s statement that India is running out of patience reflects the urgency and desirability of such reforms.
This article is about a legacy that Pakistan has used for over 70 years to invite, though unsuccessfully, the world’s attention to the Kashmir issue. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 47, adopted on 21 April 1948, is actually a defunct resolution, and yet it has been flashed by Pakistan so many times that many people across the world in general and most Pakistanis believe that India has willfully violated these resolutions to repress a segment of its population. Not surprisingly, there are many Indians who, having attended elite universities, also subscribe to this notion. Such a narrative has created an edifice that is seen differently by different people. A multitude of resultant perceptions, thus, add to an already complex issue.
The resolution that actually dishes out recommendations rather than strict directions to the two nations also has certain issues that have been objected to both by India and Pakistan. Not many, however, know or realise the fact that the key to broader actions under that resolution lies in the first resolution that states:
The Government of Pakistan should under take to use its best endeavours:
To secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting, and to prevent any intrusion into the State of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the State;
To make known to all concerned that the measures indicated in this and the following paragraphs provide full freedom to all subjects of the State, regardless of creed, caste, or party, to express their views and to vote on the question of the accession of the State, and that therefore they should co-operate in the maintenance of peace and order.
The resolution goes on to recommend further:
The Government of India should:
When it is established to the satisfaction of the Commission set up in accordance with the Council’s resolution 39 (1948) that the tribesmen are withdrawing and that arrangements for the cessation of the fighting have become effective, put into operation in consultation with the Commission a plan for withdrawing their own forces from Jammu and Kashmir and reducing them progressively to the minimum strength required for the support of the civil power in the maintenance of law and order……..(continues)
As is evident from the foregoing, it is only once Pakistan has complied with Clause 1 that everything else will start to roll. Keeping the objections raised on the resolution as well as the non-directive nature of the resolution aside for a while, if hypothetically, India accepts the Pakistani challenge, the implications for Pakistan will involve the following:
-Pulling out of Pakistani regulars and para-military forces from the complete POJK or occupied territories of the Jammu province, Kishanganga Valley and Gilgit-Baltistan region (does a term like PoK do justice to such territories, however, is a different issue and a separate topic altogether). This action would have been similar even in 1948-49.
-Relocating all non-natives who have been settled to induce a demographic change by Pakistan. The numbers have now swelled up, unlike almost zero in 1948. This will be a herculean task.
-Removal of all Chinese citizens from the PoJK territories. This would have been a non-issue in 1948; it is a massive one in 2022. Chinese colonies dot the countryside astride CPEC all the way from Gilgit to Gawadar!
-Last but the most important part-telling the Chinese to return the Shaksgam Valley! This will not be a return gift, but a gift returned! And this is impossible.
Can anyone with a bit of common sense even believe that Pakistan will be able to comply with the first clause? If not, other clauses don’t come into play. Again, one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the basic fact that Kashmiris, let alone other people from Jammu and Ladakh, despite the issues that they may have, will never opt for a failed state like Pakistan! The way the PoJK population has been treated by Pakistani politicians and the establishment, in any case, has antagonised the natives enough not to vote for Pakistan. While the fact remains that inclusion of population while integrating PoJK into India will only harm India and create many issues, another fact that plebiscite leading to such a situation will never take place needs to be taken as gospel! Pakistan, as mentioned, will not comply with the first clause, and the rest of everything will fall automatically.
Now reverting to the moot point. Pakistan understands this complication more than anyone else, and yet it keeps showing two A4-sized sheets to the world year after year and keeps claiming that India has gone back on its word. India, on the other hand, remains defensive and cites Shimla Accord and such failed treaties to say that the UN resolutions are now redundant! My query is simple-why don’t we raise our right hand and show a willingness to honour the resolution? If India were to do it once, all the exuberance in Pakistani claims would fizzle out in no time. That will also bury those two sheets that Pakistan keeps printing every now and then, thus, putting avoidable pressure on the forest ecology that produces such sheets!
(The author is a military historian, and the Founder-trustee of the Military History Research Foundation ®)
Col Ajay K Raina