The mission closed
Investing in legendary Sheikh Abdullah India thought Kashmiri leader will earn her the plebiscite. Perhaps that was one of the reasons for New Delhi to accept the UN resolutions calling for the people’s reference under UN umbrella. So confident they were that Indra Gandhi wrote to her father from Srinagar on 14 May, 1948: ‘They say that only Sheikh Sahab is confident of winning the plebiscite’. (A.G. Noorani, Article 370). But soon it dawned on Delhi that notwithstanding Sheikh in its loop and his charisma, an overwhelming majority of people in Kashmir would sway opposite. After vice president S. Radhakrishnan’s visit to Kashmir in 1953 India realized that even Sheikh Abdullah abandoned hope of securing people’s verdict in India’s favor (A.G. Noorani).
From that time India kept on skipping on its commitment and finally began parroting ‘integral part’ rhetoric. Delhi’s disdain for mere reference of Kashmir at international fora in this context can thus be well-understood. Its the latest move asking the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to vacate its office in new Delhi smacks of hubris and disrespect to UN body, both. It is also aimed to send a strong message to Pakistan and the resistance leadership in Kashmir. New Delhi seems to be quite unrealistic on Kashmir issue.
The UN observer mission which is tasked with monitoring the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan has been enjoying Indian Government’s “hospitality” for the last 40 years. The office was allotted to her free of charges. Though Delhi has not directed the mission to close its activities in India and the mission is ‘identifying possible alternative locations for its office in India’, the decision of GoI, as UN itself said, will have implications on Kashmir.
The closure of the UNMOGIP office in Delhi , it seems will pave way for mission getting closed in Srinagar, which has over the past seven decades, in particular after nineties, emerged as a revered symbol for public expressions.
Funding the mission is not that important. Providing hospitality to a UN facility is. It is, more than a courtesy gesture, a tacit recognition of UN mandate. Funding the mission is not problem for UN. Closure gives New Delhi a boost to change the narrative on Kashmir. Moreover, it symbolizes Delhi’s urge to script a “new order” in the region. In its new nationalistic avatar it is pestered on whittling Pakistan down to the status of a minnow. As the ‘Big Brother’ shies away from its obligation on UN resolutions, smaller one will keep on making feeble cries. And that is exactly what Islamabad is doing this time.
Spokesperson in the Indian External Affairs Ministry has said ‘UNMOGIP’ role has been overtaken by the Simla Agreement and consequent establishment of the Line of control and (thus) has ‘outlived its relevance’. But how can a bilateral agreement between the two countries override an international agreement, especially when the basic issue involves a people whose consent is not sought. And when UNO grants right to self-determination. In 1949, both India and Pakistan formally accepted UN resolution for a plebiscite. This “international agreement” radically diminishes the importance of any agreement concluded between the two countries. And more so, Pakistan does not read the agreement India way. Nor it has ever forsaken its stated position on K-dispute which speaks of impartial plebiscite.
History stands testimony to the political tricks played by New Delhi on the issue. It approached the world body expecting her to legitimize its de-facto control. Then, with Sheikh Abdullah accepted 18 resolutions passed by UN along with Pakistan. Looking in the hindsight nothing on the ground has changed. The situation continues to be same.
More importantly, it is home-grown assertion that gives significance to UN resolutions. Importance of UN resolutions cannot be underplayed but it is indigenous character of resistance that matters most. And that is where New Delhi ought to focus its attention. Suppose Kashmir vanishes from UN character, UNMOGIP closes its offices both in India and Pakistan and Pakistan in lieu of trade benefits from India is fatigued on Kashmir, will the story change its theme? People not blessed with UN resolutions still saw their cherished ambitions fulfilled as is East Timur, Kosavo, South Sudan and the latest Crimea. Scotland is going to achieve freedom from British after 250 years in next month without any UNO hand at its back. What matters is people’s will. And as Paulo Coelho says: ‘Once you get into the desert, there is no going back. And when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward’