On the 67th Independence Day celebrations in Srinagar, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah stated that he has found an answer to the questions asked of him by New Delhi as to “why the Kashmiris had separatist inclinations”.
He has publicly replied to New Delhi that, “A many times, I asked myself but didn’t get an answer. After (the riots in) Kishtwar, I have now got an answer. We are different (from them) as they treat us differently”. Omar Abdullah stated this in his speech after hoisting the national flag and taking salute from different contingents of J&K Police and armed forces.
Omar Abdullah is a public representative and under oath “to do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”
It is an extremely serious situation that chief minister finds himself discriminated against. What would be the level of insecurity and helplessness of the general population and other leaders who have been prosecuting an aggravated and long outstanding grievance against the Government in New Delhi. The Delhi administration and its apparatus working in J & K do not seem to have any regard for their obligations in the State. They have used the post 1990 politics and militancy as a cover to strengthen their control of many kinds in all the spheres of life here and seem enjoying a no holds barred control mechanism at the cost of rights regime and quality of life of the people.
Those of us who in the interests of all people, subscribed to the need of the popular participation in the election of their representatives and duly argued that elections in any part of Kashmir do not override the UN mechanism in place for the resolution of the question of ‘equality of people’ and their title to ‘self-determination’, feel betrayed to find that New Delhi continues to behave differently and communally in Kashmir. The unfortunate exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley may be a further cause for some elements in the Delhi administration, who are willing to take their communal discrimination to a higher pitch.
In early 1990s New Delhi used the Kashmiri Pandits to access and exploit the sense of Kashmiriyat among Muslims and played upon their sense of remorse for an alleged wrong done to Kashmiri Pandits. We felt guilty and at times braved extraordinary risks to believe their tales of torment, scripted by elements in Delhi administration. We forgot that four generations of Kashmiri Muslims were also living as refugees in PaK and in various provinces of Pakistan since 1947. We put on hold the fact that New Delhi had continued to ignore her duties in relation to these displaced Kashmiri Muslims in accordance with article 48 of the J & K Constitution and UN Resolutions guaranteeing their right to return in safety and in dignity.
Our return to a sense of responsibility in good faith seems to have encouraged New Delhi to turn turtle. It has committed the sin of betraying the Muslim sense of responsibility and appears to indulge in discrediting them lock stock and barrel. It has given us a shock to find that a person who has been elected by a common voter at great risk has come out with an announcement on the Independence Day celebrations that Kashmiri Muslim continues to be ‘different’ for the consideration of anyone from India. Delhi has taken the one time very active Kashmiri Pandits out of circulation and wants to enjoy a free kill of the responsible Muslim character.
Obligation of Pacific Settlement
Omar Abdullah has stated that “People who argue that Kashmir is an internal matter of the country (India) should think why then were talks on Kashmir held with Pakistan in Shimla, Lahore and Agra.” One needs to appreciate the appraisal of facts by the chief minister. However, it does not complete the circle of wisdom. J & K Government has a bilateral agreement with the Government of India from 27 October 1947. Any failure in honouring the terms of agreement by the Government of India makes the J & K Government equally liable for any injury caused to the people and habitat of Kashmir.
New Delhi and Islamabad have both petitioned the UN Security Council under article 35 and article 34, 11 1nd 12 of the UN Charter. Both have accepted the obligation of “Pacific Settlement” of the Kashmir question. There is an international dimension to the dispute as well.
There is a history of compromises between India and Pakistan sacrificing the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. For example India raised the question of Mangla Dam Project against Pakistan at the UN in her letter dated 21 August 1957 addressed to the President of UN Security Council (Document S/3869 dated 22 August 1957) alerting the UN that Pakistan was in violation of UN Security Council Resolution of 17 January 1948. India also referred to clause A 1 of Part II of the UNCIP Resolution of 13 August 1948. It was only three years down the line that Indian Government took a U-turn and compromised with the Government of Pakistan and signed Indus water Treaty on 19 September 1960.
UN Secretary General
The international dimension of the Kashmir dispute has been again reiterated by the UN Secretary General on 13 August 2013 prior to the start of his 2 day official visit of Islamabad. He expressed his readiness to mediate between the two countries. India and Pakistan should not be lulled by the fact that time and tide would continue to wait for them for ever. The people of Jammu and Kashmir could take the charge of foreign affairs of the State (without disturbing the respective controls) and push the UN Secretary General to take a robust interest in the question of Kashmir in accordance with articles 98 (2) and 99 of the UN Charter. Article 99 of the UN Charter gives the Secretary General a right of initiative in any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of International Peace and Security. India and Pakistan have already accepted the obligation of “Pacific Settlement” under article 11 and 12 of the UN Charter.
The recent and continued disturbances on the UNMOGIP supervised cease fire line has caused loss of life of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, a people that the armies of the two countries are supposed to protect. The matter of loss of life falls under the immediate and direct concern of the United Nations. India claims to be killing infiltrators and militants. It may be that the people alleged to be infiltrators and militants and killed are the citizens of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, crossing into the Valley from the other two administrations under the control of Pakistan. These deaths would be a serious breach of the terms to protect ‘life’ under which Indian army has entered the State. These people have the protection of article 48 of the J & K Constitution and protection of UN Resolutions, which guarantee a lawful entry and exit of the Kashmiri people and their right to return to their homes.
K-issue and terrorism
New Delhi has over played the issue of ‘terrorism’ in Kashmir and the product has passed its sell by date. The argument had its sting for a while and the international opinion became wiser on the use of proxies in the Valley by India and Pakistan. It does not sell any more and any evidence put up in this regard, is unconvincing and does not have merit.
The US State Department in its briefing on 13 August 2013 clarified that the Kashmir dispute was different from the broader issue of terrorism in South Asia and those two issues should not be confused with each other. US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told a briefing that “We are talking about two separate issues here. I want to make a distinction between the Kashmir issue and the broader issue of our concern about extremism in that region.”
Responding to a question by a journalist who tried to link the Kashmir issue with the terrorism practised by Al Qaeda and Taliban militants, she said, “I will emphasise that these are two separate issues and our views on both are well-known.” This new understanding at the international level should convince the New Delhi and its apparatus that it has to end its war against the unarmed people of the Valley and give up its practice to deceive, bluff and betray the sense of responsibility of Muslims, who have continued to support the constituency of Peace, without prejudice to the question of ‘equality’ and right of ‘self-determination’ of all the people living in the territories identified under article 4 of the J & K Constitution.