Resolve Kashmir Dispute: Professor Bonney

President Obama Needs to Provide Indian Government Encouragement to Resolve Kashmir Dispute: Professor Bonney

Chicago, Illinois. July 8, 2010.  Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director, Kashmiri American Council/Kashmir center said during a panel discussion entitled, Overcoming Barriers to Realizing the Right of Self-determination” that the Kashmir dispute is primarily the issue of self-determination which is a basic principle of the United Nations Charter that has been applied countless times to the settlement of international disputes.  Although, the applicability of the principle of self-determination to the specific case of Jammu and Kashmir has been explicitly recognized by the United Nations.   It was also upheld equally by both India and Pakistan when the Kashmir dispute was brought before the Security Council in 1948. All the above mentioned statement may be regarded as history but there is no reason why, when the human, political and legal realities of the dispute have only not changed but have become more accentuated with the passage of time, it should now be regarded as irrelevant.
It is no less relevant to the settlement of the dispute than the termination of the Indonesian mandate was to the question of East Timor or than the circumstances of the incorporation of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the Soviet Union were to the reassertion of their independence.

No settlement of Kashmir will hold unless it is explicitly based on the principle of self-determination and erases the so-called line of control, which is in reality the line of conflict, Fai concluded.

Professor Richard Bonney, Chairman, Europe – Islamic World Organization, England said Kashmir may, in reality be a more difficult nut to crack than even Palestine. India rejects third party mediation, and the US is therefore unable to act as anything more than a covert honest broker. There is no infrastructure for peacemaking.

An extraordinary meeting held at New Delhi over three days in January 2010, with representatives from both India and Pakistan, produced a final declaration entitled ‘A Road Map towards Peace’. The document deserves to be better known. Since Kashmir is the core issue in India-Pakistan relations, the declaration states that ‘there must be a genuine and urgent effort to find solutions’. Both India and Pakistan should agree to de-militarize Jammu & Kashmir, the Road Map towards Peace argues. The Indian government should repeal the Armed forces Special Powers Act. Troops should be withdrawn and those guilty of crimes against the people should be punished. The interests of the minorities in Jammu and Kashmir should be protected and the opinions and aspirations of people in all the areas of Kashmir should be considered when solutions to the conflict are being worked out.

Whether it is realistic politics remains another matter. As has remained the case for the 63 years of the dispute, the ball remains very much in India’s court. If it wishes to take some action on Kashmir, involving a broad spectrum of Kashmiri opinion, reversing excessive militarization and punishing human rights abuses, it may well find partners to dialogue.

There might even be reason for hope for concessions on the key point of allowing Kashmiris a collective voice in one way or another to determine their own future and thus for an eventual solution to the problem of Kashmir in our own lifetime. India has great power ambitions. Great powers have to show statesmanship and be prepared to make concessions in the greater interests of regional or world peace. When President Obama visits India in November this year, he needs to provide the appropriate encouragement to its government and opposition leaders that now is the time for this to happen.

Professor Cynthia Keppley Mahmood, Associate Professor of Anthropology & Senior Fellow, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, Indiana said that Kashmir, divided at the time of decolonization/Partition, is one of the longest standing disputes on the United Nations Agenda.  From the first, the U.N. declared that self-determination on the part of the Kashmiri people (i.e. a plebiscite) would be the fair way to decide whether the region should accede to India, to Pakistan, or move to a sovereign status of independence.  But though appealing on the ideal level, this goal has never moved Kashmir toward peace over the many years since its division, over the several major wars fought over its territory.   It appears that a fresh level of thinking, a thinking outside the box, may be required if this dispute is to be truly resolved.

U.S. involvement in Afghanistan following the events of September 11, 2001, may provide a surprising avenue for peace building in Kashmir.   From the first, the U.S. has been calling upon its ally, Pakistan, to devote its military attention to the border area with Afghanistan, where Taliban and al Qaeda militants are at least partially based.  The region has always been only partly under the control of Islamabad, but now the U.S. asks for a new level of control as it searches for its enemies.  But Pakistan’s attention is diverted, as it always has been, to the eastern border with India – that is, to Kashmir.  Some policy analysts in the U.S. suggest a new urgency may exist here for resolution of the Kashmir conflict; it is directly in the interests of the U.S. and NATO that the question be settled rather than diversionary for major allies.  One possible suggestion is a round table of representatives from countries in the region, perhaps including the U.S. and NATO only as observers,
recognizing for the first time that the Kashmir issue must be solved regionally, putting Kashmiris front and center, and not as a geopolitical issue to be solved by superpowers.

Dr. Muzzammil Siddiqui, former President of Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) said that the conflict of Kashmir was one of the oldest continuing conflicts sin the world and the people of Kashmir are the longest suffering people.

The United Nations Security Council passed resolution # 47 on 21 April 1948 which states that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.

Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru reaffirmed the Indian Government’s commitment to the right of the Kashmiri people to determine their own future through a plebiscite.

These are all indisputable facts. But still the people of Kashmir are denied their legitimate right of self-determination under one pretext or other.

India and Pakistan both have to go back to their pledges and do what they have promised to each other and to the world. The events of the last 60 years have shown that they are not capable to do it themselves. They need help and encouragement of the Security Council, especially the United States. The solution must come peacefully. All parties have to recognize that violence and wars cannot solve the problem. The solution of this problem will be for the good of all the three parties: the people of Kashmir as well as India and Pakistan.

Dr. Ghulam N. Mir, President, World Kashmir Freedom Movement said that mass graves containing thousands of slain bodies found in Uri region have failed to call for an international investigation. India is guilty as charged in our public court of innumerable war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of torture.

Even as we speak, Kashmir is once again under a barbaric siege in nearly all towns and cities- Srinagar, Sopore, Anantnag, Baramullah, Kupwara and many more. 18 innocent youth, some as young as 18 years have been gunned down by the security forces in two weeks. Life in all major towns has been choked and paralyzed by the shoot-to-kill curfews around the clock. People cannot venture out to buy a loaf of bread, a pound of meat or vegetables, or take their sick to the hospitals. If that wasn’t enough as a collective punishment, the Hindu parties in the southern province of Jammu with tacit approval of the government Kashmir have imposed a blockade of the only high way to the valley of Kashmir to strangle the economy and force the population in to Indian submission. It is a collusion and a collaboration of the worst kind aimed at driving a wedge between two communities to promote nefarious designs of a government- pitting people against people to achieve political ends.

Indian must demilitarize Kashmir of over 600,000 of its troops stationed in towns, cities and countryside. They are a source of much brutality, terror, fear and moral corruption.
Indian civil society must rise and demand unequivocally that brutality of the military rule in Kashmir over civilian population is wrong and must be stopped. It must demand an end to military and police rule in Kashmir. End of military rule will restore some semblance of public confidence and a sense of security to help pave the way for a peace process.

Kashmir is not about to abandon its quest for total and absolute freedom. They remain convinced of the justness of, and committed to that cause. And no power in the world is going to be able to dissuade them to abandon that struggle.