Friday, 30 May 2008

Kashmir Issue in its perspective- speech at Brussels Conference

Speech made by Shabir Choudhury, General Secretary and Head of Diplomatic Committee JKLF, at the Round Table Conference on Kashmir held in Brussels, on 18th and 19th October 1993. This Round Table Conference is organised by the Socialist Group of the European Parliament.

Kashmir Issue in its perspective.
By Shabir Choudhry

I want to congratulate the Socialist Group of the European parliament for taking the initiative of facilitating this conference. I sincerely hope that this conference will go some way in providing foundation on which the building of peaceful and lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute can be built.

Many people claim that the Kashmir dispute is the unfinished agenda of the partition plan. By this they imply that the solution of the Kashmir dispute should be looked in the light of two nations theory under which India was partitioned; or in the light of the UN Resolutions which deny the Kashmir people the right to determine their own future.

My humble submission is that the two nations theory was not applicable to Kashmir and to other Princely States. As we know the British Raj in India consisted of two units. One was called the British India which was directly ruled by the British; and the other was British Princely India which enjoyed semi autonomous status under the Raj and was not part of British India. Kashmir, like other Princely states, had a separate treaty relations with the British Government. The Maharaja of Kashmir was autonomous in the running of his state but had arrangement, by which the British were responsible for foreign affairs, defence and communications.

The two nations theory was applicable to the British India only by this it meant that all Muslim majority areas should become the new state of Pakistan and the non - Muslim areas will form new independent India.

The Princely states were given three choices to accede to India, accede to Pakistan or work out some arrangements by which it meant some kind of independence. The Princes were urged to take decision before the 15th August 1947; and in doing so they had to take in to account geographic situation of the state and wish of their subjects.

The Maharaja of Kashmir, despite all the pressure applied on him, did not accede to either India or Pakistanby 15th August 1947, the day when the British paramountcy lapsed. With the end of British Raj, all the treaty relations with Kashmir ended too. It was because of these treaty relations Kashmir did not enjoy full independence status, and once the British Raj ended, technically and legally the state of Kashmir became independent in its true sense.

,Later on towards the end of August, the people of Kashmir, especially in the regions of Muzaffarabad, Poonch, Mirpur, and Gilgit and Baltistan, started a war against the
Maharaja’s autocratic rule. This internal struggle of the Kashmiri people changed dramatically when the tribesmen from the North West Frontier on 22 October 1947, marched in to the State. This was later known as a “Tribal invasion”, and in view of many, this paved way for the controversial ‘accession’ of the State and India moving her troops in Kashmir.

When the Maharaja realised that he is on the verge of defeat he requested the Indian government for help. India pressurised the Maharaja for accession of the state in exchange of military help. Indian army landed in Kashmir on 27 October 1947, and India claimed that the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession. The latest research by prominent British historian and scholar, Alaister Lamb, casts doubts on the validity of this claim.

Let us assume for a minute, that the Maharaja did sign the instrument of accession, it was still a provisional. The so called ‘accession’ was accepted by Lord Mountbatten as the first Governor General of Independent India, and in his letter to the Maharaja he said:

‘it is my government’s wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored in
Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invaders, the question of the state’s accession should be settled by reference to the people..’

The main reason why Mountbatten accepted accession as a ‘provisional’ one was, because he believed that the Maharaja had effectively lost control of his state and that the majority of his subjects were in rebellion against him This view whether the accession provisional or not was expressed by the Indian diplomat in the UN Security Council. As the head of the Indian delegation in the Security Council, Mr G. Ayyanger, said:

‘The question of the future status of Kashmir, namely, whether she would withdraw from her accession to India and either accede to Pakistan or remain independent with a right to claim admission to the UN is a unfettered decision’ by the people of Kashmir, after normal life is restored to them.’

Mr. Nehru, the Indian Prime minister, in a radio broad cast said

‘We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. The pledge we have given and the Maharaja has supported it, not only to people of Kashmir but also to the world. We will not and cannot come back out of it. We are prepared when peace and order have been established, to have a referendum held under international auspices like the UN. We want to it to be a fair and just reference to the people, and we shall accept their verdict.’

This clearly shows that even the Indian leaders and the government knew that the
reality of this accession. If this accession was legal, as it was later claimed by the Indian government, then India would not have agreed to hold a referendum to decide the status of the state as no country can agree to hold such referendum on its own territory.

The same view was taken by the UN Security Council and rejected the legality of the accession. It must be remembered here that it was the Indian government which took the case to the UN to get some help for her case. The UN Security Council, after detailed research decided that the state was not integral part of India; and two resolutions were passed on Kashmir. In the first resolution, the Security Council said, the future status of the state of Kashmir must be decided according to wishes of the Kashmiri people. When we talk of the ‘future status’, it can mean an accession to Pakistan, accession to India or an independent Kashmir. -

It is unfortunate to note that it was the Pakistani government which opposed the idea of an independent Kashmir at that time, and the Pakistani foreign minister proposed that the words ‘future status’ should be changed to ‘accession of the state with India or Pakistan. This meant that the government of Pakistan was not prepared to accept and independent Kashmir; and from then onwards the ‘Kashmir Issue’ was treated as a territorial dispute between two countries not as an issue relating to Kashmiri people’s right of self determination.

Later on in early 1950s, the government of India refused to hold a plebiscite and claimed Kashmir was her integral part. This claim was rejected by the Kashmiri people and the international community. Despite this claim, India on more than one occasions, started parleys with the government of Pakistan to find the permanent solution of the Kashmir dispute. This clearly shows that the Indian government knew that her claim and hold on Kashmir was illegal; and moreover, it was not accepted by the Kashmiri people or the world community.

The worst part of the whole thing is that both India and Pakistan have never taken the Kashmiri people in confidence and never allowed them to participate in either bilateral
1 talks on Kashmir or allow them to present their case to the world community. In other words the Kashmiri people who are the main party to the dispute were never consulted on the Kashmir issue, and it was taken for granted that whatever decision made by the bureaucrats of India and Pakistan will be accepted by the Kashmiri people.

The people of Kashmir waited a long time, 46 years, for the peaceful solution of Kashmir. They realised that it was not forthcoming as both India and Pakistan have their own vested interests and the world in general was not prepared to take sides in a dispute which was considered as a “territorial dispute”. As a result of deep frustration they decided not to look towards Pakistan, the UN or the world community for the solution of Kashmir and began armed struggle against forces of occupation. I want to remind the audience that armed struggle is justified by the UN if all the peaceful measures are blocked by the forces of occupation.

We the people of Kashmir do not want bloodshed. We are peaceful people, which we have shown by waiting 46 long years. Apart from that peace, tolerance, humbleness and love for others is our tradition and part of our culture. But, at same we have shown that Kashmir is not a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, it is about the Kashmiri peoples inherent, inalienable and most cherished right of self determination for which we are prepared to die. It must be made clear to both India and Pakistan that we are fighting for our independence and we will not accept any decision to be force upon us. We cannot allow the officials of Islamabad and New Delhi to decide the future of Kashmir. If any such decision is taken we will resist it We cannot and will not accept the division of Kashmir.

We are prepared to enter in to negotiations with India and Pakistan to decide the future of Kashmir. We can, perhaps, invite other nations to help us to arrange such talks. When deciding the future of Kashmir, we must make sure that the solution of Kashmir must fulfill three objectives:

1. It must end human rights violations in Kashmir, and people are relieved from the present intolerable misery;

2. It must provide right of self determination to the people of Kashmir that they can decide if they want to accede to another country or they want to become independent;

3. It must provide peace and stability in the area, as we DONOT want another war between India and Pakistan. We believe war will not provide any solution, if any thing, it will exacerbate the situation.

We Kashmiri people have paid a heavy price in this struggle. We have only one choice and that is to continue the struggle until the people of Kashmir achieve their national independence. India’s record on human rights in Kashmir could be seen by a report of a leading Indian paper, The Tribune Chandigar, which wrote on March 25, 1990:

‘.The dehumanising process touched its lowest when a bride and her chambermaid were pulled from a bus by the Para - military forces and raped... This is the most deplorable aspect of the whole situation. In house to house searches and so called ‘operations’ women are being tortured, molested and raped. This is often done in the presence of their family members. Recently a procession of school girls was fired on and this resulted in a number of casualties. The jawans of the Indian forces are acting like animals and their high - up are not bothered.’

I can give you hundreds of examples like this, but I have already taken too much of your time, and it is not very pleasant repeating these tragic events. Both India and Pakistan have nuclear potential and if the Kashmir dispute is not resolved according to wishes of the people then there is threat of war between these two which will endanger peace and stability of South Asia.

Is that what we have to offer to our future generations? I don’t need to explain what kind of misery and suffering a nuclear war might bring for the people. If we want to avoid all this then we have to act fast, and give Kashmir dispute urgent attention. We must find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute. But we must remember that Kashmir is one political entity and that people of Kashmir have not made these sacrifices for any kind of division of the State.

I support this view that all forces should be pulled out of Kashmir and the state united and given under the UN supervision. Once the normalcy is restored, the political process can begin and political parties can present their programmes to the people. After a specified period, perhaps 5 years, the people of Kashmir under the UN supervised plebiscite, can decide if they want to accede to any country or become independent. Whatever the majority of people of Kashmir decide should be accepted by all parties concerned.

I hope that you will support our struggle for right of self determination, and help us in every possible way. once again, I thank you for providing this opportunity to speak to you. Long live the Kashmiri struggle for independence.

Shabir Choudhry
General Secretary Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front,

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