Can It Make To UN?
The question that needs an answer
It is a dead letter, that cannot be delivered to the address written on it and cannot be equally returned to the person who sent it. This is how best I can describe the four point formula of former Pakistan President General Musharraf on Kashmir after having seen the mood at the 11th International Kashmir Peace Conference, held in Washington two weeks back.
General Musharraf in 2003 had made a ‘startling alteration’ in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy. ‘Instead of insisting, as previously, that the Kashmir issue could be only solved by the UN resolution, he proposed a four point formula for settlement of the dispute. The formula I have written in the past was not original. It had been in circulation since long but for the first time it had found a taker in Pakistan in President General Musharraf. The formula that by many in Kashmir was seen as betrayal of the status of the problem at the international level had generated a lot of debate on both the sides of the LoC, India and Pakistan. After 2004, there was hardly a conference in Srinagar, New Delhi, Islamabad, Washington, London or any other part of the world where the Musharraf formula was not deliberated upon. It had its votaries and critics in the state leadership. Here I need not to go into the details of this formula or how this formula divided the Kashmir leadership into two distinct camps. I also do not want to enter into a debate about New Delhi’s interest in its revival but I am going to focus on the indicators that suggest that the demand for the right to self-determination and implementation of the UN resolution on Kashmir was once again going to take the centre stage in India and Pakistan relations.
The tone for the debate on self-determination for the people of the state was set in by Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai of Kashmiri American Council when giving a graphic account of the situation he said that today Kashmir ‘movement for right to self-determination was at a critical juncture and since the partition of India in 1947, until now 2010, the Kashmir demand for right to self-determination has been unwavering.’ The debate received a powerful kick start when former Indian High Commissioner in London, writer and journalist Kuldip Nayar stated that India cannot accept another partition. ‘India will not accept a solution of Kashmir on the basis of religion. We had one separation and will not accept another- I am sorry the borders of the state cannot be changed, they can only be made irrelevant- there is something called Indian Parliament, something called the Constitution of India- for giving an inch of land you need three fourth majority in the parliament.’ The remarks of other important delegate from New Delhi Justice Rajinder Sachar were also on the same lines.
Pronouncing the notion that the ‘present Indian policy was unshakeable and will remain unshakable as ‘sterile’ Ambassador Yusuf Buch stated that this ‘attitude of turning back on the charter of the United Nation needs to be fought in the context of not only Kashmir but every major international problem.’ He said, ‘The charter is not scripture, nor is it a book of norms, but let us not forget a multilateral international treaty, as such it is a binding on the largest or most powerful members of the international organization as much as on the smallest or the weakest, the sanctity of international agreements cannot but be one of the basis of a sane and stable international order. The Kashmir issue involves that principle more specifically.’ Munir Akram, former Ambassador of Pakistan in the United Nation attributing India’s “hardened attitude” on the question of right to self-determination for people of Jammu and Kashmir to Western powers more particularly the United States stated that ‘the perception that India was dominant regional power ‘was encouraged wittingly or unwittingly by the Western Powers. During the past one decade more particularly during the Bush administration a consensus emerged in Washington that India was Americas natural partner in firstly containing China, secondly in containing Islamic extremism and terrorism.’ Questioning both these premises and analyzing how New Delhi took an advantage of this in putting Kashmir issue ‘under wrap’ and pushing it aside he called upon Pakistan to shed its ‘self-perception of weakness’ and come out of ‘apologetic mood’ in supporting Kashmir’s right to self-determination and it needs to stand up for this right under Security Council resolution. Stating that Kashmir for having become a nuclear flashpoint was more dangerous than Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan and if it had to be revived, “Pakistan will have to go back to the position that it assumed for a long, which is clear and open statement of support for Kashmiris right to self-determination. Earlier Senator Mushaid Hussain almost speaking in the same vein stated that peace in the region cannot be ‘compartmentalized’ – ‘there cannot be peace in Afghanistan and let Kashmir burn – if Kashmir burns Kabul will also burn.’ Countering the question of ‘structural impediments’ in the resolution talked by Indian delegation’ he said the ‘rules of game were laid in 1971, when East wing of Pakistan was dismembered jointly by India and Soviet Russia. The action was justified by invoking the principle of right to self-determination. He stated that Kashmir was relegated to back burner whenever Pakistan was under military rule. The Pakistan government which was represented at the conference by Muhammad Afzal Sandhu , Minister of State in the federal cabinet and Member of Kashmir committee did not exhibit the same amount of enthusiasm as by some former diplomats and intellectuals for invoking the UN resolution on Kashmir. In his speech he called upon President Obama for appointing an envoy for Kashmiri.
The discussion over the right to self-determination as contained in the UN resolution on Kashmir sparked yet another debate: that if Pakistan in view of the grave human rights situation in the state could take up the issue once again to the United Nations as it had done in the past.
The Kashmir problem was last taken by Pakistan to the United Nations during the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Commission that was held between January 31, to March 11, 1994 and it was the ‘first to follow the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights. ‘The fifty three member delegation and eighty one observer states were joined by 930 representatives of 150 nongovernmental organizations. Prominent speakers included Pakistan Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Haitian President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide and High Commissioner of Human Rights, Jose Ayala Lasso of Ecuador.’ Pakistan Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto made impassioned speech highlighting the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. India at that time played its cards very well and succeeded in convincing Iran to pressurize Pakistan to withdraw the resolution. Pakistan agreed to Iran’s suggestion and dropped the resolution and after that Pakistan never ever talked about raising the Kashmir in the United Nations but ever since that time it never ever attempted to raise the issue in the United Nations. Munir Akram held the view that without Pakistan and Pakistan’s support Kashmir issue will not be revived to the centrality it deserves on the international agenda and in fact called upon Pakistan to ‘impose a solution on Kashmir.’ A Pakistani Supreme Court lawyer of Kashmiri origin Ahmer Bilal Soofi stated that in view of the ever growing tension over Kashmir in the region there was a scope of taking Kashmir de-novo to the United Nations. In his words, “There are about the 14 resolutions on Kashmir, passed during forties and fifties. Thereafter, UNSC had not taken cognizance of the Kashmir issue directly. Although the UN Charter in Chapter 6 and 7 (article 35 onwards) specifically state that UNSC can investigate any dispute that is likely to endanger international peace and security. UN itself in the its resolutions earlier had taken cognizance after being satisfied that Kashmir can be a threat to regional and international peace and security” Finding two critical developments in Kashmir from 1950, one, the pro-active struggle by people of the state and second the acquisition of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan he stated that both these factors elevate the issue of Kashmir to the level where it sounds alarming for UNSC. The international organization is bound to take notice to discharge its mandate under the chapter 6 and 7 of its charter.’
If the views expressed at the international conference are taken as an indicator it seems there Pakistan intelligentsia is disheartened at the outcome of talks over Kashmir between India and Pakistan and there is an urge in them for taking the Kashmir issue de novo to the United Nations.
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