Indian Govt. has asked UNIMOGP office in New-Delhi to vacate the premises allotted to it forty years ago free of cost. It has given two reasons for its marching orders. One that UNIMOGP presence in India has lost relevance in view of the Shimla agreement and two that it wants to tighten its belt in the budgetary season.
The diktat in view of these two arguments from Indian Govt. is clearly self contradictory. If Indian Govt. thinks that UNIMOGP has no relevance in India, then the order should have been to Vacate India instead the rent free accommodation allotted to it. Since Indian Govt’s order restricts itself to vacation of premises only it appears that it has realized that while it can eject the UN body out of the rent free accommodation, it cannot ask it to leave the country, because the mandate to terminate the stay vests only with security council in terms of its resolution No. 91 of 1951. Even on austere measures, India has made a laughing stock of itself when it shows concern for few thousands of rent while earmarking lakh of crores for its defense spending & hundred of crores for statutes of dead Hindutva persons.
A word or two need to be said about the relevance of UN resolutions vis-a vis Shimla agreement. While many have waxed eloquent over Shimla Agreement as some thing, which can form the bedrock of Indo-Pak relations but the basics about this agreement still continue to be half truths & erroneous interpretations. An ordinary analysis would reveal the actual picture and nature of this much-publicized agreement for which it is necessary to have a look at the relevant clauses of the original agreement which are reproduced below:
“The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan are resolved that the two countries put an end to the conflict and confrontation that have hitherto marred their relations and work for the promotion of a friendly and harmonious relationship………
1.In order to achieve this objective, the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan have agreed as follows:
(i) That the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the countries;
(ii) That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them.
ii)In Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control resulting from the cease-fire of December 17, 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side.”
A cursory look at the above clauses makes following thing clear:
1) That the relations between the two countries shall continue to be governed by UN charter.
2) That differences between the two countries have to be resolved through bilateral negotiations failing which any other peaceful means or mechanism will have to be worked out to settle them.
3) That Cease fire line of 17th December 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side
It is very essential to put the various words and phrases used in the above agreement in proper perspective and assign them the meaning in the context in which these are used. For instance once the two countries want their relationship continued to be governed by UN charter- the meaning of words “or through other peaceful means” assumes a great significance. In the context in which these are used, it envisages role of a third party in the settlement of dispute between the parties. As it a common knowledge that India & Pakistan have failed to settle their core dispute over Kashmir despite lapse of more than thirty years since the Shimla agreement was signed , the first obligation of settling the dispute bilaterally vanishes. Since this obligation cannot be stretched upto eternity, we move to the next option of settling the dispute through “ other peaceful means” .This naturally envisages a role for third party mediation or reversion of matter back to UN. Since India Vociferously opposes a third party mediation by any party like USA or European Union, the settlement of dispute process has to be initiated by UN. In the Shimla agreement the two Countries have also reiterated to continue to be governed by UN charter. Article 103 0f the said charter provides that in the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail. It also provides that UN should assume an Arbitrator’s role between two disputing membership nations if the said dispute becomes a threat to global peace. India & Pakistan are two nuclear armed nations and are sitting on a powder keg. UN, therefore has a role here to play by default as well.
The agreement also uses the words “without prejudice to the recognized position of either side”. This nails the oft-repeated lie that there were some behind the scene agreements and the two Countries had decided to divide & enjoy that portion Kashmir which was under their respective control as on date.
In effect Shimla agreement has neither overtaken UN nor made its resolutions redundant. Instead it has made its role & resolutions more relevant & important.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at firstname.lastname@example.org)