Third Party Mediation

"Why would little children pick up stones instead of pencils, pens and brushes, India has to ask itself. When they ask for freedom, it brings back memories of why I left. Just for one reason… Freedom and fear. At my age I cannot take too many risks. At their age, they too can’t. But they have been forced to… over 60 years it is happening with Kashmir.  ” Wrote internationally acclaimed painter M.F. Husain   in an article published a week back in a New Delhi newspaper.  Kashmir is soaked in blood. Sixty three children and teenagers have been slaughtered during past two months. This bloodbath though unique and distinct for its grievousness and callosity is   first of its kind. Brooks and Streams of this state have been running scarlet over past six decades.

 Kashmir in fact is the longest surviving human tragedy in Asia. As very rightly pointed out by historian Ramachandara Guha in his book, “India After Gandhi”, “This is a genuinely international dispute,” that continues to perpetuate because of apathy of the comity of nations and because of the ineffectiveness of the United Nations. And ‘for its persistence as an unresolved international conflict’ many important international scholars see its resemblance to the question of Palestine.’ But, I see it more dangerous for it had assumed a nuclear dimension which is not true about the Palestine. Kashmir has emerged as a nuclear flashpoint in one of the most vulnerable and volatile region in the world.

 Like the question of Palestine solution to the question of Kashmir was sought through the UN mediation.  It has been a subject of a dozen and half U.N. resolution. The 1949    U.N. Resolution   which called for the holding of a plebiscite, under U.N. supervision, to address the wishes of the people of Kashmir is not only most important but also most vital.  “India concurred to the plebiscite; after all its Governor General had laid it down as a condition for Kashmir’s original accession to India.” The fact remains that all the U.N. resolutions have been so far ignored. Many times the people of Jammu and Kashmir are told that these were nothing but a scrap of paper and to the extent of humiliating the political aspirations of people of the state some politicians in New Delhi have compared the resolutions passed by the highest office in the world to that of the ‘toilet paper’. ‘These resolutions as very rightly written by a renowned Kashmiri intellectual Yusuf Buch, “were as relevant today as they were at the time of their passing. They are as relevant as US and British constitution- can these be declared having become irrelevant as they were adopted two hundred years back. Can the UN Declaration be called having become aged and lost its relevance as it was passed sixty years back?”

It is debatable if  the Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan can have superseding effect on an international agreement…   in the wake of this agreement New Delhi  did not withdraw its January 1948 application from the United Nations that had caused both 1948 and 1949 resolutions,  guaranteeing right to self-determination to the people. These resolutions also had evolved mechanism for knowing the wishes of the people in consonance with the India Partition plan. Even in the 1972 agreement the two countries committed themselves to resolve the Kashmir dispute- obviously in accordance with the norms laid out for all such disputes where principle of self-determination is involved. Kashmir dispute despite, India and Pakistan agreeing to resolve could not delink itself from the UN resolutions and the agreements there of between India and Pakistan. The Six Point Agreement signed by Mrs. Gandhi and Mr. Bhutto nowhere mentions severing Kashmir disputes wedlock to the UN resolution. Kashmir dispute whether International or bilateral is a dispute that continued and continues to affect the global concerns in the South Asia. Scholar Eqbal Ahmed some years back had very rightly summed it up, “The lingering dispute has had long-range repercussions. It led Pakistan to military alliance with the United States and to join the Baghdad Pact and SEATO alliances; it augmented military spending in both countries and caused wars between them. Above all, for the hapless Kashmiris, it has meant living in a limbo of territorial division and economic stagnation, resistance and repression.”

Notwithstanding India and Pakistan in 1971 having agreed upon to resolve the Kashmir issue bilaterally the dispute did not lose its international moorings and it continues to retain its international dimensions. It cannot be denied that beginning in 1947, the dispute initially remained in focus at the international level for two decades.  It caused two ‘inconclusive’ wars between the two countries in 1948 and 1965. Pakistan’s defeat in 1971 war with India and its dismemberment undoubtedly relegated Kashmir to back-burner at the international level. Kashmir lost its urgency for the United Nations but  however, it continued to be the main dispute between the two countries- like mythical Kashmiri demon Jalabdava that devoured humanity and created havoc in Kashmir  it continues to threaten causing catastrophes’ of greater magnitude.

Since the birth of the dispute besides   India and Pakistan engaging in war of attrition over Kashmir, they have been debating and discussing it at all levels.  Compiling deliberations that have taken place between the two countries would need volumes.     Even after the 1971 agreement the two countries have been meeting, there have been marathon sessions at official and political levels, there have been summits between the leaders of the two countries.

There has been hardly a head of the State in the two countries that has not participated in one or other summit on Kashmir between the two countries. There have been summits under the aegis of some influential countries   but nothing substantial has been achieved in these meetings – no agreements arrived at and Kashmir continues to fester. It continues to bleed- the teenagers continued to be killed as flies to wanton boys.

The Chairman All Parties Hurriyat Conference a few days back at a massive Friday congregation was right in stating that the two countries have failed to address the Kashmir problem. Even Pakistan former President Musharraf bringing in metamorphic change in his country’s stand rooted in the history of the dispute failed to bringing in any dividends those could help in an amicable settlement of the six decades old problem. Mirwaiz rightly called for third party mediation. The procrastination that has become a hallmark of Kashmir policy, in its womb has been carrying nothing but sufferings and miseries for the people of the State.

The history of the dispute seen in right perspective suggests that the situation never ‘really returns to normal’ in Jammu and Kashmir.  Even when there have been outward symptoms of peace there always has been resentment within. It may not be possible to recount all the sixty three winters of rage and summers of discontent in this column but the fact remains that it has always taken a blood bath in Kashmir or a war or a war like situation to the international community more particularly in the post cold war scenario the United States to push India and Pakistan to a table for negotiating a settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

Like proverbial horse the United States has been taking the two countries to a pond but failing to make them drink water. It has been persistently pushing the two countries to engage in the dialogue for it understands the fragility of the situation in the region and it having the potential of disastrously disturbing the most susceptible region to the point of no return. The Kashmir situation as described by Pankaj Mishra in an evocative article in the Guardian dwarfs those of Palestine and Tibet.

To see permanent peace in the region it is incumbent upon Washington, as co-sponsor of the resolution on Kashmir   to impress upon the United Nations Security Council to intervene as a third party for resolving the oldest dispute on its agenda.

(Feedback at zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com)