Options within the UN UN failed to settle the dispute for the past six decades

Indian political experts accuse the erstwhile USSR of betraying India  when its support was most needed to stall the passage of UN resolutions on Kashmir. However, a careful analysis of the events reveals that USSR came to India’s rescue when the most important resolution on Kashmir was being discussed. USSR exercised its veto to stall the resolution.  

To understand the erstwhile USSR role better, it is necessary to have a peep into the situation that prevailed when Indian lodged a complaint in the world body and the developments that followed.   

As the war on Kashmir continued, India thought it wiser to refer it to UNO. On 22 December 1947, during his visit to Delhi to attend the meeting of Joint Defence Council, the official letter of complaint was handed over to the Pakistani PM, Liaquat Ali Khan as a procedural primary step to the reference of the case to the UNO. No reply came till 31 December 1947 and India formally appealed to the UNO to intervene in the issue.

It is believed that Nehru took the decision after consulting Mounbatten. It is also said that Sardar Patel opposed the idea but Nehru went ahead. Experts say Nehru regretted the decision as the Security Council instead of declaring Pakistan an aggressor in Kashmir, passed a series of resolutions conferring right to self determination on the people of Jammu Kashmir. But a few questions arise. Was Nehru really unaware of the dangers of taking the issue to the United Nation?  A careful study of the events of those eventful days presents a different picture.

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 subsequent 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 up to December 31, 1971.

 But USSR returned with a veto when the Security Council was discussing an Irish resolution in 1962 considering sending UN forces to Kashmir to settle the issue.

Three years later, the USSR elbowed Kashmir out of Security Council to introduce bilateralism.  India and Pakistan met at Tashkent in 1965 to settle Kashmir.   

 Nehru had done his home work. He approached the UN under a charter that is not mandatory and then impressed upon the USSR to facilitate the resolutions.  The UN took one full year to declare cease-fire. The war continued as UN deliberated the issue and even passed resolutions. India made the best use of it.

By the end of December, 1948 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

 After use of veto by USSR, Pakistan considered it a diplomatic victory. Statements stating `VP Menon failed to do it for India’ were issued. Pakistan also talked of raising the issue in the general assembly where no country has a veto. However, 2/3 vote is needed to take a decision there.

 During the past six decades, Pakistan was never in a position to do the necessary lobbying for trying its luck in the General Assembly.    

 Today when Muslims have been pushed to the wall, the chances of success in the assembly seem quite bleak. However, that does not mean Pakistan should not try to muster support for the move.    

 The USSR has disintegrated and Russia has other problems to address. India is moving closer to the United States. But Pakistan’s strategic importance in the region cannot be ignored. In the cold war era it was not possible but there is no harm in trying but after proper preparations.

 Today Nehru stands vindicated 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.

 A Srinagar based expert on International Law while addressing a seminar in Srinagar gave reasons for UN failure. "The complaint was lodged by Jawahar Lal 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."

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