A Brief History Of UN Mediation On Kashmir And Why Its Resolutions Are Defunct

A desperate Imran Khan, following his speech in Pakistan, wrote an article in the New York Times ‘Opinion Section’, in which he stated, ‘If the world does nothing to stop the Indian assault on Kashmir and its people, two nuclear-armed states will get ever closer to a direct military confrontation.’ He also said in the article that the international communities are standing by India, whereas a nuclear war between India and Pakistan will have consequences beyond India and Pakistan.

The point is, that it seems like Imran Khan is threatening the international community; he’s suggesting that if the Kashmir dispute is not arbitrated as per the UN charter (or UN resolution), then he will have to opt for a nuclear war against India. If Pakistan declares war, the end result is a different issue.

I want to briefly discuss what exactly the UN resolutions are and who is a defaulter and why it’s also being said that the UN resolution on Kashmir was not only non-enforceable but also redundant.

The UN resolution 39  dated 20th January 1948 was the first one on Kashmir after Jawaharlal Nehru took the issue to the UN. In this resolution, it was suggested that a three-member commission should investigate the Kashmir issue and make a recommendation to the UN body. One member from India, one from Pakistan and the third one chosen by the other two members of the commission.

Post the formation of the three-member commission, UNSC resolution 47 was adopted on 21st 1948 which gave the following recommendations:

  • In the first step, Pakistan was asked to use its “best endeavours” to secure the withdrawal of all tribesmen and Pakistani nationals, putting an end to the fighting in the state.
  • In the second step, India was asked to progressively reduce its forces to the minimum level required for keeping law and order. It laid down principles that India should follow in administering law and order in consultation with the Commission, using local personnel as far as possible.
  • In the third step, India was asked to ensure that all the major political parties were invited to participate in the state government at the ministerial level, essentially forming a coalition cabinet. India should then appoint a Plebiscite Administrator nominated by the United Nations, who would have a range of powers including powers to deal with the two countries and ensure a free and impartial plebiscite. Measures were to be taken to ensure the return of refugees, the release of all political prisoners, and for political freedom.

A five-member commission UNCIP (United Nation’s Commission for India and Pakistan) to oversee whether the recommendations are carried out or not.

The UNCIP after verifying the ground status and talking with both India and Pakistan government, they unanimously adopted a three-part resolution amending and amplifying the UN resolution 47 as below.

  • Part I dealt with a ceasefire, calling for a complete cessation of hostilities.
  • Part II dealt with a truce agreement. It asked for a complete withdrawal of Pakistan’s fighting forces, including the army, tribes and other Pakistani nationals, and stated that the evacuated territory would be administered by local authorities under the surveillance of the Commission. Following the Pakistani withdrawal, India was expected to withdraw the “bulk of its forces” reducing them to the minimum level required for maintaining law and order.
  • Part III stated that, after the acceptance of the truce agreement, the two countries would enter into consultation with the Commission for settling the future of the state in accordance with the will of the people

Here, as per my observation, a point must be noted; the amendment doesn’t talk about a plebiscite whereas it recommended complete withdrawal of Pakistani forces, Pakistani nationals, etc. Although India agreed to this, Pakistan put various conditions, which were considered to be ‘tantamount to rejection’. However, both India and Pakistan agreed to it after a lot of persuasions although, Pakistan didn’t leave its plebiscite demand and agreed only after assurance of a plebiscite administer.

However, after that, demilitarisation by Pakistan couldn’t be achieved. India also stressed that Gilgit-Baltistan was a part of Kashmir. In my opinion, there’s no difference between the Pakistani army and Azad Kashmir Forces (which were actually Pakistanis) when Pakistan argued stationing of Azad Kashmir Forces in J and K post-Pakistani army withdrawal.

Finally, the UNCIP on 9th December 1949 declared their failure and submitted a final closure report with a recommendation that the commission should be replaced by a single mediator. Canadian delegate, A G L McNaughton was given responsivity by the UN to consult with both India and Pakistan for demilitarisation.

As per McNaughton’s recommendation, UNSC adopted resolution 80 despite India’s objection. The resolution asked for the simultaneous withdrawal of the forces of both India and Pakistan. India’s stand was very clear. Pakistan was the aggressor hence it has to retreat. Pakistan wasn’t ready to reduce or withdraw its forces.

Then there was the Dixon Plan. Sir Owen Dixon, appointed by the UNCIP, proposed that instead of a plebiscite for the whole of J and K, let it be done region wise. His believed that Jammu and Ladakh would whole-heartedly support India and the Valley and north-Kashmir would for Pakistan. However, both India and Pakistan rejected this proposal.

In 1956, the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly adopted a Constitution which declared that J and K is an integral part of India. Thus, according to my understanding, the question of a plebiscite was over for India. Pakistan always pressed for a plebiscite without fulfilling the basic requirement such as withdrawing its forces from the occupied land.

Pakistan carried out operation Gibraltar in 1965, imposing a war on India, and expecting the people of J&K people to revolt against India. Pakistan’s operation was a failure when India defended its border and the people of J&K didn’t stand with Pakistan.

Finally, in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, Pakistan was defeated decisively and had to sign the 1972 Shimla Agreement which outlined that Kashmir along with other issues between India and Pakistan will henceforth be bilateral issues. This, in fact, superseded all UN resolutions which were rejected by either of the countries and some by both the countries.

In 2001, then UN secretary-general Kofi Anan, said that the UN resolutions on Kashmir are advisory and not mandatory. In 2010, the USA ambassador to India said that ‘Kashmir’ is an internal issue for India.

Legally, India is on solid ground because of the instrument of accession. Also, there are regular elections and state governments are being formed from time to time. On the other hand, Pakistan never followed the part-1 of any of the UN resolution (that is withdrawing its forces from POK).  I believe, this is why the international community is not ready to hear anything from Pakistan on Kashmir.

And then, isn’t it an open secret that Pakistan is sponsoring cross border terrorism in J& K? Post 9/11, the world has been viewing terrorism quite differently. Thus, in my opinion, Pakistan needs to realise that it’s the first defaulter of any UN resolution. It’s time to get back POK and perhaps that’s worrying Pakistan?

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