Friday, March 22, 2019

Failures of the UN to end Kashmir dispute

Mohammad Amjad Hossain :
It is an irony that the United Nations could not succeed to resolve dispute between Pakistan and India over disputed Kashmir since 1948 having established Line of Control and revised resolutions of UN Commission on the basis of recommendations by both Delhi and Islamabad.
These revised resolutions indicated the accession of State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to India or Pakistan should be decided through democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite when UN Commission found that ceasefire and truce arrangements set forth in parts 1 and 11 of the Commission's resolution of 13 August, 1948 have been carried out and arrangement for the plebiscite have been completed.
This revision of UN Commission which comprised of Argentina, Belgium, Columbia, Czechoslovakia and the United States took place in 1949. By now Czechoslovakia does not exist. It has been divided into Czech Republic and Slovak Republic after breaking up of Soviet Union in 1991.
Now the onus lies with the United Nations to resolve the knotty crisis in Kashmir for the sake of peace and security of the people in the region since three wars took place over the Kashmir issue. Another war was looming at large if recent development over shot down two Indian war planes by Pakistan air force and captured one of its pilots in the disputed region of Kashmir on 27 February this year further escalated.
This development took place when Indian fighter jets entered inside Pakistan territory. The downing of the Indian aircraft came when people saw mortar shells fired by Indian troops across the frontier dividing the two sectors of Kashmir killing six people and wounded several others, as reported by the Washington Post of 28 February.
India's External Affairs Ministry spokesman, Raveesh Kumar, is reported to have said one of India's MIG 21 fighter aircraft was missing while one Pakistan aircraft was shot down. Indian claim of downing Pakistan aircraft was denied by Pakistan. This nasty development took place against the backdrop of pre-dawn airstrike and incursion by India in Pakistan dominated Azad Kashmir intended to target a terrorist training camp of Jaish-e-Muhammad on 14 February.
Chief of Police at Balakot in Azad Kashmir reported to have said it was mostly deserted wooded area where Indian aircraft attacked but no casualties reported.  Indian's intrusion in Pakistan held Azad Kashmir was in response of Jaish-e-Muhammed's claim for recent attack in Indian administered J&K killing more than 40 members of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
The peace talks -- offered by Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan who called on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi "to step back from the brink and warning that miscalculations could drag their two countries into a war that neither side would benefit from" - is welcoming.
As of now Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not respond to the call. By now Pakistan handed over captured India air force pilot. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said, neither side wants to see this escalate further but this is going to take really critical restraint in the days ahead while Russia's Foreign Ministry expressed hope for the de-escalation of the situation.
Another positive development takes place in Pakistan.  According to the Ministry of Interior, 44 suspects were arrested belonging to outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group which claimed to carry out attack on Indian military in Indian held J&K. It is regrettable to note from the interviews given to Democracy. Now of  the USA by celebrated Indian author several award winner Arundhati Roy and noted film maker of India:  Sanjoy Kak, who recently produced films: Jashn-e-Azadi and until My freedom has come: The New Intifada, on 19 September of 2010 in London.
Both of them are of the opinion that J&K has been densely militarized zone while around 68,000 people died, 100,000 tortured and 10,000 disappeared since 90's when fighting turned into armed struggles. Arundhati Roy holds the opinion that Kashmir should be independent and challenged India's claim that Kashmir was an integral part of India.
The fact is that Kashmiris by themselves have, time and again, revolted against the domination by India. It may be noted that Kashmir valley was on the boil after killing of young and charismatic militant commander Burhan Muzzafar by police on 8 July of 2016.
The spontaneous leaderless outbursts of anger and grief have caught everyone by surprise which replicated agitation in 2008 and 2010 defying curfew, braving bullets and taking to the streets in overwhelming numbers. Their demand was Azadi or freedom from India as published by Outlook on 15 July of 2016.
United Jihad Council (UJC) in Srinagar alleged the prevailing war like situation was the outcome of unresolved Kashmir issue. Meanwhile, the 46th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held in Abu Dhabi on 2 March, 2019 "condemned strongest terms recent wave of Indian terrorism in occupied Jammu-Kashmir and expressed deep concern over the atrocities and human rights violation in the held territory" but not reflected in its final declaration.
However, declaration praised Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan's positive gesture towards India.
No amount of condemnation and resolutions will resolve the problem of Kashmiris. It is high time that United Nations should intervene between India and Pakistan by holding plebiscite in Indian held Jammu-Kashmir and make unified State of Kashmir along with Pakistan held Azad Kashmir. UN action has become indispensable for peace and tranquility in the region. Enough is enough.

(Mohammad Amjad Hossain, retired diplomat and former President of Toastmaster International Club of America, writes from Virginia)