Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai
The people of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the cease-fire line and worldwide observed the 69th anniversary of India’s Independence Day as a Black Day because of India’s failure to honour its pledges that it has given to the people of Jammu and Kashmir at the United Nations. This year, the Kashmiri leadership had summoned all Kashmiris all over the world to demonstrate on August 15th, as a symbol of their unity and harmony. Their unity in mourning demonstrated their will to resist India’s illegal occupation and defiance of the United Nations Security Council resolutions mandating a self-determination plebiscite for the 18 million people of Jammu and Kashmir.
It is a historical fact that the dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir can be settled only in accordance with the will of the people which can be ascertained through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite, internationally supervised. This was the common ground taken by both India and Pakistan. It was supported without any dissent by the United Nations Security Council – and prominently championed by the United States, Britain and France. The United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) resolution of August 13, 1948, and other resolutions of the Security Council state clearly that “the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people.”
These are not resolutions in the routine sense of the term. Their provisions were negotiated in detail by the UNCIP and it was only after the consent of both Governments was explicitly obtained that they were endorsed by the Security Council. They thus constitute a binding and solemn international agreement about the settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
India has defied United Nations Security Council resolutions for more than 69 years because she knows Kashmiris will never vote in her favor. The irony of the fate is that even President Obama wants to see India the member of the Security Council whose resolutions have been blatantly violated by India right from 1948.
It is beyond any doubt that for more than half a century, India has treated Kashmiris more like ink blots to be ignored than as human beings to be respected. Indian Government has betrayed most of its high-minded ideals in Kashmir that marked its entry into the family of nations after long years under the British Raj: shocking human rights violations, including more than 100,000 killings in the last two decades alone, torture, rape, mutilations, arson, plunder, abductions, arbitrary detentions, and draconian punishment for the exercise of peaceful political dissent; and, contempt for international law and binding self-determination resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. Indeed, India’s gruesome record in Kashmir is far worse than the records of the Federated Republic of Yugoslavia in Kosovo, Indonesia in East Timor, and Russia in Chechnya, all of which provoked international outrage and more. But not a word has been uttered by the world powers to bring the human rights violations in Kashmir to an end. The studied unconcern by the United Nations in Kashmir has given a sense of total impunity to India. It has also created the impression that the United Nations is invidiously selective about the application of the principles of human rights and democracy.
All experts of South Asia discount the United States hopes that the dispute over Kashmir could be settled through bilateral peaceful talks between India and Pakistan. They recount the litany of failed bilateral efforts between New Delhi and Islamabad. At the same time, the people of Kashmir have steadfastly mainlined that talks between the three parties, India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris, are the only way to resolve the Kashmir issue. We hope that the leadership of India and Pakistan recognize that there can be no settlement of the Kashmir dispute without the active and full participation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir living on both sides of the Ceasefire Line.
We urge the United States to resist the temptation to jettison its traditional foreign policy championing democracy and human rights in the case of Kashmir for in the name of big power politics or economic opportunities in India. Down that road lies a troublesome blow to international law and amity. A promising first step towards a just and peaceful settlement of the Kashmir tragedy would be the recognition by the United States, Pakistan and India of the leadership of the people of Kashmir as an equal partner in any future negotiations to settle the Kashmir dispute.
Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai is the Secretary General of World Kashmir Awareness