Friday, 30 May 2008

Pakistan never supported Kashmiris right of self- determination.

Pakistan never supported Kashmiris right of self- determination.
Dr Shabir Choudhry

General Musharaf has made headlines in the international media in the past few weeks, but for all the wrong reasons. First it was his remarks about the UN resolutions on Kashmir and then it was two attempts on his life. Whereas I condemn these attacks on his life, and won’t even endeavour to analyse the reasons for these attacks, I will, however, try to analyse his remarks about the UN resolutions.

His remarks that he is ready to put the UN resolutions on one side in order to resolve the Kashmir dispute and have friendly relations with India, won him international support; but he was attacked from many sections of the Kashmiri and Pakistani community. He was accused of ‘betraying’ the Kashmiris and ‘bartering’ the Kashmir dispute, which is so close to hearts of Kashmiris and Pakistanis, for the sake of friendly relations with India and to satisfy US demands.

He further said that he is prepared to say good- bye to Pakistan’s ‘stated position’ or more appropriately, ‘Pakistan’s principled stand’ and meet India ‘half way’. He also talked of more than one solution on Kashmir, and said he didn’t want to talk of any solutions at this stage, as he has more interested in starting a dialogue with India. He said:
‘There are extremists from both sides, Indian and Pakistanis, who will not allow any flexibility. So therefore, lets not talk of solutions, let us start the dialogue, let us then accept centrality of Kashmir; then the third stage is let us negate, eliminate through a process of elimination what is not acceptable to India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris and finally arrive at a solution acceptable to India, Pakistan and Kashmiris’.

This concept of ‘meeting half way’ is very interesting. One wonders it is ‘half way’ of what? Kashmiris want independence of their State, as they want to be masters of their own destiny, and does meeting ‘half way’ means a stage that is half of independence? Or does it mean some kind of half independence for the half of the State?

This concept of meeting ‘half way’ or striking a ‘compromise’ reminds me of a situation where one person says, two add two is four, and the other person challenges him and says it is five. And in order to resolve this dispute and ‘build consensus’, a mediator says, please don’t fight over this, as we would like you to have peace and harmony. Difference between four and five is one, let’s meet half way and agree that two add two is four and half.

Another important question is who has given him this right to resolve the Kashmir dispute by meeting India ‘half way’? He has not consulted the people of Kashmir, and he has no such mandate to do this. People still question legitimacy of his rule in Pakistan. Bulldozing his way to power and by eliminating everything which is considered as an obstacle does not provide legitimacy to his rule; and certainly does not give him right to decide future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

On one hand I say General Musharaf or any other Pakistani ruler has no right to decide future of Kashmir; on the other hand it is they who have been doing everything in name of Kashmiris, and afterwards telling their ‘puppets’ on both sides that we have done this in your name and it is in your best interest to accept it and openly say that you appreciate it. Kashmiri leaders have found it expedient to toe the line, mainly in order to save their skin and for personal gains, and not for any ideological reasons.

Musharaf’s statement has caused uproar, and many people claim that he has betrayed the Kashmiri people and Pakistani stand on Kashmir. Whereas I disagree with his approach of meeting India ‘half way’ on the issue of Kashmir, but I compliment his courage - he has torn apart veil of hypocrisy which all Pakistani rulers were accustomed to. He has said openly what he had in mind and what has been the Pakistani policy, especially since the Shimla Pact.

All Pakistani governments have paid only lip service to the UN resolutions knowing full well that after the Shimla Agreement term of reference on Kashmir was this ‘Bilateral Pact’ which made the Kashmir dispute a bilateral issue. The relevant part of the Shimla Agreement reads like this:
‘Both Governments agree that their respective heads will meet again at a mutually convenient time in the future and that, in the meanwhile, the representatives of the two sides will meet to discuss further the modalities and arrangements for the establishment of durable peace and normalisation of relations, including the question of repatriation of prisoners of war and civilian internees, a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir and the resumption of diplomatic relations’.

One can see from this quotation that there is no mention of the UN resolutions on Kashmir or even the wish of the Kashmiri people, never mind any kind of right of self - determination. It is clear that heads of both governments will meet at ‘mutually convenient time’ and take a decision on the ‘final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir’; of course without reference to the role of the UN or the will of the people.

In other words the dispute will be resolved bilaterally, and whatever limited choice about their future was given to the people of Kashmir in the UN resolutions was taken away by this ‘Pact’. And despite this fact various Pakistani governments and their leaders have been fooling people of Pakistan and Kashmir since 1972; and some Kashmiri leaders, while dancing on the tune played by Islamabad, were presenting this ‘Agreement’ as ‘Sullah E Hadeebia’, great victory for Muslims and Pakistan.

The title of this article is that ‘Pakistan has never supported Kashmiris right of self – determination’, and I can prove that point. I would request my readers to look at the following historical facts:
1. Kashmir dispute was taken to the UN as a Jammu and Kashmir problem, and later it was changed to India and Pakistan problem on the request of Pakistani government, as they didn’t want the Kashmir dispute to have separate existence, and wanted Kashmir to be seen in the context of India and Pakistan.
2. While discussing the future of State of Jammu and Kashmir, the First UNCIP resolution passed on 13 August 1948, stated: ‘The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people…’ As the word ‘future status’ implied three possible solutions namely accession to Pakistan, accession to India or an independent Kashmir, Pakistani government of the time suggested that the option of independence should be eliminated, and they proposed changes which were incorporated in the next UNCIP resolution of 5th January 1949. And the new resolution which was changed on the request of Pakistan reads like this: ‘The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite’.
3. We all know that accession to another country with no choice of independence is not right of self- determination. This clearly shows that the government of Pakistan did not want the people of Kashmir to get their right of self – determination and independence. It should be noted that the right of self – determination is unfettered right of nations which could not be limited, as it was limited in the second UNCIP resolution.
4. Whatever various Pakistani governments did in name of the Kashmiri struggle or Kashmiri peoples’ right of self –determination was to make the State or major portion of it part of their country-Pakistan. Clearly this is not support for the Kashmiri peoples’ right of self – determination, but it is support for Pakistan’s design to get Kashmir under the cover of right of self- determination.
5. Various governments of Pakistan have, on more than one occasion, agreed to the division of the State, and if that ‘give and take’ had been agreed then of course the ‘Kashmiri peoples right of self – determination was effectively out of window for good.
6. The State of Kashmir is divided and Pakistan has total control of areas of Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, whereas Pakistan seems to be very anxious and concerned about the rights of the Kashmiri people on the Indian side of the divide, but is not even prepared to give right of vote to the people of Gilgit and Baltistan. This shows what love and care Pakistan has for the people of Kashmir.

Many more points could be added to this list to show that respective Pakistani governments have done everything what they had to do in order to make Kashmir part of Pakistan, they even sacrificed lives of thousands of Pakistani lives for this purpose.

It must be pointed out here that Mr Nawaz Sharif also wanted to do a deal with India over Kashmir; of course the deal was based on the division of Kashmir and had nothing to do with the Kashmiri peoples’ right of self- determination, whatever that meant in the light of what Pakistan has done to this noble concept. And that deal, according to available information was much better than what Musharaf government is bending backwards to achieve.

The Kargil adventure was staged by the Pakistan army to sabotage the proposed deal in which thousands of people lost their lives; and it is the same army leadership which is now striking deal with India. People have every right to ask, if deal leading to division of the State had to be made then what was the logic of losing so many lives in Kargil, and losing so many lives since that in Kashmir and on LOC?
Writer is a Chairman of JKLF Diplomatic Committee, and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir. He is also a Spokesman of IKA.

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