Self Determination versus Negotiated Settlement


January, the 5th 1949 marks yet another day of scores of resolutions passed to pave the way for settling ‘K’ issue. From 17th January 1948 in its resolution numbering 38th passed in meeting number 229th to resolution number 307th passed in meeting number 1616th on 21st December 1971, a total of 27 Kashmir related, if not Kashmir specific resolutions were passed by UNO. The number includes draft resolutions, statements of intent. Specifically resolutions though number 23. And these resolutions reflect self-determination as the guiding principle of settlement of disputed national identities. Such an effort by the premier international body should have yielded results, proving its worth as a conflict resolution mechanism of nations affiliated to it. That it did not, reflects poorly on its working, as UNO replaced ‘League of Nations’ the earlier format, due to its failure to prevent Second World War-a major international conflict. The new international amalgam was meant to be more effective; however it proved as toothless as the older version. Yet, the resistance forces in J&K State hold on to UN resolutions, as if holding to dear life. And every year, Jan: the 5th is commemorated to remind the international community of the commitment, which didn’t get realized. 

January, the 5th 1949 UN resolution was passed, wherein the world body came up with a new plan for a plebiscite. To address Pakistan’s fears that the Plebiscite outcome may be influenced in India’s favor by Sheikh Abdullah-who was seen as close to Indian P.M. Nehru and had been appointed as the interim head of J& K administration-and the limited Indian troops which were meant to maintain law and order during the plebiscite, the U.N proposed that the State of Jammu and Kashmir should be under the full control of the Plebiscite Administrator. The Plebiscite administrator was to enjoy quasi-sovereign powers over the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The proposal was rejected by the Indian side, implying a changed attitude in comparison to earlier commitment to make way for free and fair plebiscite. It is possible that GOI didn’t take kindly to the UN administrator lording over Abdullah administration. The administration was projected as the genuine leadership of the J&K state by GOI, a view disputed by Pakistan. 

January, the 5th 1949 UN resolution was in fact a supplementary resolution, the most comprehensive resolutions remains in fact the August, the 13th 1948 resolution, which is in three parts. The resolution apart from establishing ‘United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan’ is operative in three parts. Part I relates to ordering a ceasefire. Part II covered the ‘Truce Agreement’. Part III pertained to expression of free will by people of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State’. Jan: the 5th resolution apart from making way for a plebiscite administrator, emphasized self-determination as the democratic manner of expressing people’s will. That in fact was reflected in the caption of Hurriyat [G] January, the 5th 2013 seminar…an honourable and democratic manner of settling the longstanding ‘K’ issue.

While speaker after speaker shed light on various aspects of ‘K’ issue, Zahid Gh. Mohammad popularly known as [ZGM] a famed columnist put forth a narrative that was debated at length, overshadowing the main topic in the seminar. ZGM alluded to charter of combined Hurriyat framed in early nineties-1992/93, wherein apart from putting in self-determination as implied in UN resolutions, an alternative was devised-negotiated settlement. ZGM’s take implied that negotiated settlement diluted the principle of self determination. Expounding it further in a private chat after the seminar, the fellow columnist stated explicitly that self-determination makes an individual master of his fate, while as in a negotiated settlement a body of individuals sit around a table to settle their fate. Whether a representative body, whatever its authenticity could decide as delicate a matter as the ultimate fate of a state is doubtful. ZGM’s contention could be supported as delicate decisions even if taken by a representative body are subjected to referendum in many democratic societies. It is done lest the decision remains devoid of popular backing. Hence ways are devised to authenticate it, so that it gets registered in historical compilation as a decision taken without a shade of doubt.
SAS Geelani in a telephonic address from New Delhi referred to ZGM’s take, stating that the decision to incorporate negotiated settlement in combined Hurriyat charter was taken to accommodate the viewpoint of Late Abdul Ghani Lone and JKLF.

However, Hurriyat [G] chairman said that it was implied that even a negotiated settlement should conform to UN charter. SAS Geelani said it loud and clear that a negotiated settlement means tripartite negotiation, meaning the parties to the dispute-India, Pakistan and the leadership representing J&K State sit around a table and negotiates a settlement. In no case does it imply talking to Pakistan, then to India, and shuttling to and fro. Lately such a form of negotiations has been called triangular dialogue, rather than tripartite negotiations. More over, SAS Geelani said, it was implied that negotiations in any form may not take place without India accepting the disputed nature of J&K State.

A look at framework of Hurriyat constitution clears, what was implied. Chapter 2, Clause I relates that ‘to make peaceful struggle for the people of Jammu and Kashmir State to exercise the right of self determination in accordance with United Nations charter and the resolutions adopted by United Nations Security Council, however the exercise of right to self determination shall include right to independence’. And clause 2 relates ‘to make endevour for an alternative negotiated settlement of Kashmir dispute among all three parties to the dispute: (a) India (b) Pakistan (c) People of state of Jammu and Kashmir under auspices of United Nations or other friendly countries, provided that such settlement reflects the will and aspirations of people of state’. 

In fact, prior to the present seminar, I had questioned SAS Geelani on the issues involved in some recent moves by various formations of resistance leadership. That was just a month back on December, the 8th 2012. Over an hour of an interaction, prior to start of a seminar on Human Rights organized by Hurriyat [G] where I was invited to participate, I asked him to comment on change being the only constant, as made out by Prof. Bhat of Hurriyat [M] while quoting John Lock in an interaction that I had with him on 17th of November.

Change, said SAS Geelani, does not imply bargaining on basics, the basics vis-à-vis ‘K’ issue remain U.N resolutions and right of self determination. Change is a pattern pertaining to developmental stages a human being passes through, as also the change of seasons, the changing pattern of planets in the solar system. Endowed with couplet after couplet of Persian and Urdu poetry, with which he laces his public speeches as well a private talk, he quoted Iqbal to prove his point:
Sabbath Tageer Ko Hai Zamanay Mei’n 
It could be put as: