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The ‘Kashmir Issue’ has been at the center of the estranged relationship between Pakistan and India since their emergence in 1947. Pakistan considers it as an unfinished agenda of the partition of sub-continent, while India regards whole of the State of Jammu and Kashmir as its integral part, alleging Pakistan of illegally occupying part of its territory i.e. Azad Kashmir.
Exclusively over the issue of Kashmir the two belligerents have already fought two wars in the past; 1948 and 1965, besides engaging in series of regular border skirmishes along the Line of Control of which 1999 Kargil conflict has been regarded as the severest of all the confrontations.
Following the nuclearization of South Asia in 1998, Kashmir resurfaced in the world politics as a potential nuclear flashpoint prompting the international community to take greater interest in urging the two sides to resolve this issue peacefully.
The Indian Independence Act of 1947 laid down that the States were to become legally independent when the sovereignty of His Majesty’s Government over the princely states elapsed. But, in practice such independence was ruled out and princely states were advised to accede to either India or Pakistan according to the broad principle of partition. Kashmir, with a predominantly Muslim population, was ruled by a Hindu Maharaja and could have joined either of the two dominions. The Maharaja vacillated as he nurtured hopes for an independent state. Meanwhile the situation in Kashmir deteriorated rapidly due to Hindu-Muslim riots prompting tribesmen from North West Frontier Province to declare Jihad against the Maharaja’s forces. The Maharaja as a reaction gravitated towards New Delhi and succumbed to Indian Government’s demand of accession of Kashmir to India before any military assistance could be provided. Despite induction of troops, India failed to control the situation in Kashmir and referred the matter to UN Security Council on 1 January 1948. After protracted debate, the Council decided that the dispute be settled by holding free plebiscite under the auspices of UN. The resolutions of 13 August 48 and 5 January 49 form the basis for settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
In the UN Security Council meeting held on the behest of India in August 48, Pakistan asserted that the accession of Kashmir to India was based on violence and fraud All UN resolutions on the Kashmir issue negate the Indian claims of legality of accession and the resolution of 13 August 48 and 5 Jan 49 specifically provide right of self determination to the people of Kashmir. The alleged accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India is of no legal significance as proved by historical records.
Contrary to popular perception, scrutiny of mentioned resolutions reveal that the resolutions are not heavy loaded in our favor due to the following:-
UN Resolutions warrant complete withdrawal of all Pakistani forces and nationals from Kashmir. Only on confirmation of this withdrawal, India would commence thinning out forces leaving behind adequate troops to maintain law and order. The UN resolutions only recognize accession of Kashmir to either Pakistan or India which gives it a look of territorial dispute between the two countries and not an issue which relates to the aspiration of the local populace.
The history of UN shows that Security Council resolutions do not necessarily evoke respect and secure compliance, unless US / West’s interests are directly involved.
Above notwithstanding, the UN resolutions do recognize Kashmir as a dispute and Pakistan as an affected party and provide moral grounds to Pakistan for her principled stand on the issue
Recommended short term policy envisages forcing India to engage in a meaningful dialogue on the Kashmir Issue. All efforts must, therefore, be concentrated /directed towards achievement of this goal and no energy should be overtly consumed in discussions on the modalities of the solution. ‘India Quit Kashmir’ should be the slogan of all Mujahideen groups in Indian Occupied Kashmir, to draw all Kashmiri Muslims under a common umbrella. An understanding needs to be developed that various options would be discussed when a decision is discernible. Having persuaded India into a meaningful dialogue on settlement of Kashmir Issue, articulate the talks and factors affecting its outcome in a manner that the thrust of our diplomatic maneuver should seek a solution based on UN Resolutions, whereas we should be prepared to accept resolution of Kashmir Dispute as per the identified maximum and minimum objectives.
In the final analysis, Pakistan's political elite has to realize that on the Kashmir front Pakistan cannot lose unless its leaders wish it to. The thrust of diplomatic efforts, to seek our short term objective of forcing India into a meaningful dialogue, should be directed.
(a) Gain maximum International support on the Kashmir Issue by projecting it as a nuclear flashpoint. Concurrently persuade/pressurize India to reduce its occupation forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
(b) Examine the possibility of taking the Kashmir dispute to International Court of Justice.
(c) Kashmir dispute be projected as an issue which relates to the popular will of a people and not as a problem having merely territorial connotation. For this, a well orchestrated media campaign be launched besides hiring the services of lobbyists in the US / West.
(d) The issue of human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir should be handled in a more sophisticated manner.
(e) Look more reasonable to the world by showing overt willingness to give concessions on our declared stance on Kashmir, subject to India’s willingness to settle Kashmir Issue through negotiations.
(f) The on going peace process should be properly documented to be used in front of global players, in case the talks fail to deliver a solution. It will amply highlight India’s rigid stance despite maximum concessions by Pakistan.
(g) A well planned diplomatic maneuver be launched to gain sympathies of key legislators/policy makers in the US/ West.