Washington: Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum reminded the world powers of their pledge given to the people of Kashmir as early as in 1948. He said when the Kashmir dispute erupted in 1947-1948, the world powers championed the stand that the future status of Kashmir must be ascertained in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of the territory. The United States, Great Britain and France were principal sponsors of the resolution # 47, which was adopted by the Security Council on April 21, 1948, and which was based on that unchallenged principle.
Fai added that the Security Council discussed the question exhaustively from January to April 1948. Since both India and Pakistan desired that the question of final settlement should be decided through an impartial plebiscite, the Council developed proposals based on the common ground between them. The Indian point of view was unambiguously clarified by its Prime Minister, Pandit Nehru when he said: "If, after a proper plebiscite, the people of Kashmir said, 'we do not want to be with India'; we are committed to accept it though it might pain us. We will not send an army against them. We will accept that however hurt we might feel about it. We will change the constitution, if necessary."
The resolution # 47 of 1948 was not the resolution in the routine sense of the term. Its provisions were negotiated in detail by the Council with India and Pakistan 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, Fai said.
Fai articulated that there was much in the submissions that was controversial between India and Pakistan, but the proposal of a plebiscite was not. This is clear from the statement made on 28 January 1948 by the President of the Council. He said:
" ... the documents at our disposal show agreement between the parties on the three following points:
(1) The question as to whether the State of Jammu and Kashmir will accede to India or to Pakistan shall be decided by plebiscite;
(2) This plebiscite must be conducted under conditions, which will ensure complete impartiality;
(3) The plebiscite will therefore be held under the auspices of the United Nations."
Fai warned that Kashmir cannot be ignored, perhaps for no other reason than the conflict there has gone on for 73 years and seems destined to continue as long as the Indian armed forces continue to occupy the region. The potential for genocide is very real and massive killings have already occurred in the past. The tens of thousands who have been killed along with vast human rights abuses seem to go on without end. The UN high Commissioner on Human Rights has recommended an independent, impartial and international mission to visit Kashmir and be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides. Of course the Indian government continues to ignore such calls for investigation, because it believes that such ruthless tactics are the only way to deal with opposition to its policies. Such policies are almost a guarantee that yet another great tragedy in the UN's history will occur.
“The decades-long Kashmir issue has caused agony to Kashmiris, to Pakistan and to India itself and the simple, rational measures that would be needed for its solution is not out of sight. All that is needed is going back --- yes, going back --- to the point of agreement which historically existed beyond doubt between India and Pakistan and jointly resolving to retrieve it with such modifications as are necessitated by the passage of time.
Fai appealed the United Nations Secretary General – the custodian of the human rights – to provide the leadership in protecting the human and political rights of the people of Kashmir; and use his influence to enable them to exercise their inherent right to self-determination.
(Dr. Fai can be reached at: 1-202-607-6435 or firstname.lastname@example.org www.kashmirawareness.org)