Kashmir discussed at the UN Security Council after 50 years. By Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai

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 “The position of the United Nations on this region (Kashmir) is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions.” Mr. Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, August 8, 2019.

 India, disregarding what Secretary General said and ignoring all norms of international law and the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir abrogated Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution and thereby bringing a constitutional end to the special status of the State.

We believe that abrogation of article 370 and 35 A is an act of aggression and assault on the rights of the people of the State.  Such attempts are in open contravention of UN resolution #122 adopted on January 24, 1957; # 123 adopted on February 21, 1957 and # 126 adopted on December 2, 1957. These resolutions prohibit any unilateral action to change the disputed nature of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

 It is to be noted that the United Nations Security Council Resolution # 122 “declares that the convening of a constituent assembly as recommended by the General council of the ‘All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference’ and any action that assembly may have taken or might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire State or any part thereof, or any action by the parties concerned in support of any such action by the assembly, would not constitute a disposition of the State in accordance with the above principle.”

 Today, Kashmir is in turmoil. The government of India has imposed curfew, banned all public meetings and placed the Kashmiri leadership under house arrest. All educational institutions have been closed.  Internet services snapped and all university examinations postponed. Barricades have been erected on all entry and exit points in Srinagar and other cities.

“Imagine for a moment that nearly all residents of the US state of Virginia -- population roughly 8.5 million -- were blocked from communicating with each other or the outside world. Imagine that their movements within their neighborhoods were highly restricted due to military-enforced curfews and checkpoints. And imagine they could not access reliable information because, due to the clampdown, journalists were largely prevented from reporting or publishing the news. This may sound like the plot of a dystopian novel, but it is almost exactly what's happening in the Indian-administered Kashmir Valley right now.” CNN – Opinion, August 15, 2019.

 It must be mentioned here that India presents a wholly false picture of the situation in Kashmir. One instance is revealing. When the whole world knows that Kashmir is caged and it is literally under siege, Rohit Kansal, the Principal Secretary of Jammu & Kashmir Government said that it was very peaceful in Kashmir. The irresponsibility of this kind of disinformation is borne out by the fact, reported in The New York Times, dated August 10, 2019, that, “Inside Kashmir, Cut Off From the World: ‘A Living Hell of Anger and Fear.” Amnesty International tweeted that “The unilateral decision by Government of India to revoke Jammu & Kashmir's special status without consulting J&K stakeholders, amidst a clampdown on civil liberties & communications blackout is likely to increase the risk of further human rights violations & inflame tensions.”

 In the context of preventive diplomacy to find a peaceful solution of Kashmir problem, President Donald J. Trump expressed his readiness to extend every possible help to facilitate a search for a lasting solution to the “hot hot tinder box of Kashmir.” As was expected, India virtually rejected this offer. Indian foreign minister responded that they would like to resolve Kashmir dispute under Simla Agreement. The Indian contention that the conflict would be settled under Simla Agreement is designed to negate the jurisdiction of the United Nations over the dispute, on the one hand, and, on the other, to eliminate the party most directly concerned, i.e., the people of Kashmir.

 The statement of the Secretary General made it abundantly clear that Simla Agreement does not and cannot supersede the UN resolutions. “The Secretary-General also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Simla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.”

Kashmir is one of the oldest unresolved conflicts on the agenda of the UN to which the Security Council devoted scores of meetings and on which it adopted more than a dozen substantive resolutions. Mere passage of time or the flight from realities, which is characteristic of Indian leadership, cannot alter this reality. The mere fact that the Security Council debated the Kashmir issue on August 16, 2019 for the first time within the past 50 years nullifies the India’s contention that Kashmir is its internal matter.

 The Security Council meeting on ‘the situation in Kashmir’, held on August 16, 2019 was a closed-door meeting. However, Chinese Ambassador briefed the press soon after the Council meeting that, "The Kashmir issue should be resolved properly through peaceful means in accordance with the UN charter, the relevant Security Council resolutions, and bilateral agreements.” The Ambassador emphasized, “This represents the international community's consensus." He added that "China is deeply concerned about the current situation and opposes any unilateral action that complicates the situation and we call upon the relevant parties to exercise restraint.” What happened at the Security Council was also articulated by Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Mr. Singhvi is not only the leader of Indian National Congress; he is also the Spokesman of Indian National Congress. He said, I quote: “the United Nations Security Council meeting on Kashmir was a big diplomatic and strategic failure of the BJP government.”

 Therefore, as an instance of impartial and humane opinion on the issue, we submit to the Secretary General of the United Nations – the custodian of human rights -- the following:

 First, we are thankful to the President of the United Nations Security Council for bringing this matter to the attention of the Council. The members of the Council undoubtedly knew that leaving the problem unattended could lead to serious consequences not only in Subcontinent but also beyond.

 Second, the Secretary General could appoint his special envoy, a person of an international standing, like Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights or Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime Minister of Norway. Such an envoy could visit India & Pakistan and both sides of the Ceasefire Line in Jammu & Kashmir, assess the situation, and explore various possibilities of plan of action to set a stage for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.

Third, special envoy could urge Government of India to pull out bulk of its 750,000 military and paramilitary forces from Kashmir to pave the way for normalcy in Kashmir.

 Fourth the envoy could also impress upon the Government of India that the following measure are essential to create an atmosphere that is conducive for a dialogue:

 i.               An immediate and complete cessation of military action against the people of Kashmir;

ii.              The complete withdrawal of India’s military presence from Kashmiri towns and villages;

iii.            The restoration of the rights of peaceful association, assembly and demonstration;

iv.            The unconditional release of all those imprisoned in connection with resistance and during the past two weeks of undeclared curfew;

v.              The encouragement by the Governments of India and Pakistan of a dialogue with the accredited leadership of the people of the State of Jammu & Kashmir to facilitate proposals for the final settlement of the dispute.

 (Dr. Fai is the Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum. He can be reached at gnfai2003@yahoo.com)

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