When Nehru decided to move to the United Nations, his Home Minister, Sardar Patel, vehemently opposed him. But Nehru did not listen. Nehru knew what Patel was not aware of. Nehru knew the UN could not do anything if a complaint was lodged under chapter VI.
The Kashmir issue was taken to the UNO by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru on January 1, 1948. Since then the world body has passed scores of resolutions but the Kashmir issue remains unresolved to this day. Every body in Jammu Kashmir especially in the Valley talks about UN resolutions. But the way they discuss the resolutions and the way they draw inferences reflects their ignorance viz-a-viz the resolutions.
Immediately after taking cognizance of the Indian complaint, the UN Security Council formed a commission called United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). On August 13, 1948 a resolution was passed unanimously. The resolution sought settlement of the dispute in accordance with the wishes of the people through a free and impartial plebiscite. This resolution conferred unlimited right to self determination on the people. To put it plainly, there is scope of a third option (Independent Kashmir) in this resolution. Conditions for holding a plebiscite were laid down and both the countries agreed to implement the resolution in its totality.
Meanwhile international lobbying continued and so did the war in Jammu and Kashmir. The UNO declared a ceasefire on January 1, 1949 and in four days another resolution was passed. After commending India and Pakistan for accepting the ceasefire, the UNCIP chose to restrict the right to self determination. The question of accession, now, was to be settled between India and Pakistan through an impartial referendum.
People, by and large, believe that the UN restricted the choice between India and Pakistan on its own. But this is not the reality. The reality is unveiled from the opening words of the resolution. It reads: “Having received from the Governments of India and Pakistan, in communications dated 23 December and 25 December 1948, respectively, their acceptance of the following principles which are supplementary to the Commission’s Resolution of 13 August 1948; the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite’.”
The words merit special consideration. Pakistan and India agreed (in times of war) to restrict the right to self determination of the people of Jammu Kashmir. Most probably they were scared by the August 13 resolution of 1948 which does not rule out third option.
The `conspiracy’ of limiting the self determination went against the promises of India and Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan assured participation of the people of Jammu Kashmir in the resolution process. “Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru delivered a historic speech in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk where he repeated his promise of taking the people into confidence. Similarly, the government of Pakistan made it clear repeatedly that the final decision shall be taken after consulting the people. But sensing that the resolution of August 13 had gone against their interests, the two governments forgot their bitterness for the time being and joined hands to defeat the very object and purpose of self-determination.
The Pro-Pakistan elements have in the past observed January 5 as self determination day. According to them, this resolution vindicates their stand. The pro-freedom elements on the other hand have rejected this resolution. In 1993 a deadly ideological infighting broke out between various militant groups. Hundreds of men were consumed in such clashes. The confusion is still there. Pakistan, India or Independent State? The question still hunts them.
Why has UNO failed in solving the long pending dispute? By the end of December (1948) Indian army had pushed back the Tribals and the indigenous state subjects of Jammu Kashmir to a position where the armies of India and Pakistan stand now. In fact, the government of India did not want to push them deep into the territory which now constitutes ‘Azad Kashmir’. This stands proved by Lt General LP Sen’s book Slender was the thread. On page 162, Sen writes: “Early in January 1948, a body of hostiles, better organised than the tribesmen, made their appearance on the heights in the vicinity of Uri. Clad in uniforms identical to those worn by the troops of 161 Infantry Brigade, they were reasonably well equipped with arms and wireless communications and employed tactics which, although not of a high standard, clearly indicated that they were not just a bunch of recruits but trained soldiers. At first sight it was assumed that a Regular Pakistan Infantry Brigade had moved into the line, since there had been constant and dependable reports from intelligence sources to the effect that Pakistan Regular Troops were milling about in the area between Chakothi and Muzaffarabad.” Chakothi is very near to the present day line of control (LoC). Although, the fighting continued but the army concentrated on other fronts especially in the Pir Panchal Region.
This was the most opportune time to involve the world community. When Nehru decided to move to the United Nations, his home minister, Sardar Patel vehemently opposed him. But Nehru did not listen. Nehru knew what Patel was not aware of.
Nehru knew the UN could not do anything if a complaint was lodged under chapter VI. Today a good number of Kashmiris believe that the UN resolutions have delayed resolution of the Jammu Kashmir conflict. And that is exactly what Nehru wanted.
Nehru killed two birds with one stone by this move. He presented Pakistan as an aggressor before the world community and continued fighting for one more year. After exactly one year of lodging a complaint in the United Nations, the ceasefire was enforced. By that time Indian was well placed except in the Pir Panchal Region where Pakistani army recaptured a few pickets and some area. It is widely believed that Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah persuaded Nehru to accept the ceasefire at that particular moment of the war because `Sher-e-Kashmir wanted to keep peace loving Kashmiris away from war mongers of Azad Kashmir’.
The failure of the UN in solving the dispute as per its resolutions has been widely debated especially since December 1996 when UN dropped Kashmir from its agenda. Pakistan then prevented the miscarriage by registering strong protest and undertaking hectic lobbying.
But what can the UNO do? The complaint was deliberately filed under Chapter VI which is not mandatory. Resolutions passed under Chapter VI of UN charter are considered non binding and have no mandatory enforceability as opposed to the resolutions passed under chapter VI. Had the complaint been filed under Chapter VII, the situation would have been different.
The people of Jammu Kashmir who are the principal party to the dispute came to know about non-enforceability of the UN resolutions a decade ago. The Prime Minister of India knew it six decades ago.
The statement of former Secretary General, Kofi Anan during his visit to South Asian countries evoked severe reaction from Islamabad and pro-resistance camp here. He refused to accept Pakistan’s plea to intervene on Kashmir unless both parties accepted his good offices. Had Anan any option?
However, notwithstanding all this, the UN Resolutions are important. According to Sheikh Showkat Husain, who teaches International Law at the University of Kashmir, UN resolutions are a title deed for the people of Jammu Kashmir. It is a proof that the people of Jammu Kashmir have not accepted the 1947 arrangement.
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