Kashmir at UN,Did erstwhile USSR fail New Delhi at the UN?

Much to the annoyance of his home minister, Sardar Patel, Nehru took the Kashmir conflict to United Nations on January 1, 1948. The situation in Kashmir was discussed by the Security Council. A commission known as United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was formed and scores of resolutions were passed. However, after six decades the conflict continues to be on the UN agenda.

Patel was a shrewd politician. But, according to Kashmir watchers, Nehru knew what Patel was not aware of. By the end of December, 1947 the Indian army had reached where it stands now. It has now been established that the government of India did not want to go beyond what was captured by its troops up to December. It is also believed that Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah persuaded Nehru to leave the people of what now constitutes Azad Kashmir alone for `political reasons’ 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.

Here the role of the erstwhile USSR merits special mention. India remained its trusted ally till its disintegration. But, USSR abstained from voting and in a way facilitated the resolutions on Kashmir. Did USSR abstain from voting at New Delhi’s behest?

On April 21, 1948, the UN Security Council passed a resolution seeking measures for settling the Kashmir dispute. Surprisingly, the USSR did not participate in voting. Had USSR exercised its veto, the resolution would have been blocked. This was not the first time when USSR abstained from voting. The former superpower did not try to block the resolutions. The UN passed as many as 20 resolutions urging both India and Pakistan to settle the issue through an impartial plebiscite. The process of passing resolutions continued upto December 31, 1971.

India remained USSR’s most trusted ally till its disintegration. On the other hand USA took active part in deliberations and also mustered support from member countries in favour of resolutions.

Shockingly nobody has ever made a mention of the `dubious’ role played by the USSR during those crucial years. Was it a failure of New Delhi’s foreign policy or the result of an understanding between the two `trusted friends’?

Nehru was severely criticised for taking the Kashmir dispute to United Nations on January 1, 1948. Kashmir experts say Nehru knew the UN will only delay the issue. Today Nehru stands vindicate but only partially. There is no denying the fact that the UN failed to settle the dispute for the past six decades. But, according to separatists, the world body has kept the issue alive through its resolutions.

And what Nehru did not anticipate also happened. The resolution dated January 5, 1949 triggered an ideological war in early 90s. Hundreds of gunmen owing allegiance to different militant groups were consumed.

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. The issue was taken up again when Islamabad registered strong protest and did hectic lobbying.

Noted commentator, Dr Sheikh Showkat Husain, while addressing a seminar in Srinagar, gave reasons for UN failure. He said, “The complaint was lodged by Jawaharlal Nehru 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 VII."

The statement of former Secretary General, Kofi Anan 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. "Anan had no option. He knew his limits", said Showkat.

However, Husain believes that the international community accepted and ratified the right to self determination of the people of Jammu Kashmir through these resolutions.

Whom should New Delhi blame for this? Nehru, USSR or both?  

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