Saturday, 6 October 2012

Krishna and Zardari speak on Kashmir, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Krishna and Zardari speak on Kashmir, Dr Shabir Choudhry
02 October 2012

Pakistan’s President Zardari and India’s Minister External Affairs Krishna spoke about Kashmir in the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Many Kashmiris and Pakistanis will claim that Pakistan has, once again, raised the Kashmir dispute in the UN. It must be pointed out that the Kashmir dispute was taken to the Security Council by India under Article 35 on 1 January 1948. Although both institutions are part of the United Nations both have different roles; and many regard the General Assembly as a debating forum where world leaders come and speak on various topics, just like at the Speakers Corner in Hyde Park, London.

Also the occasion provides the leaders an opportunity to meet and discuss issues of interest with leaders of other countries. Of course it is seen as a good opportunity to meet different American leaders and officials. So comments of President Zardari (India avoids mentioning of the Kashmir dispute at any international forum, and Krishna’s comments were in response to what Zardari had said) cannot be regarded as ‘raising the Kashmir dispute’ in the UN.

Pakistani leaders in the past even avoided mentioning Kashmir in the General Assembly; however, it was unavoidable this time because the UN theme for the occasion was “Adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations by peaceful means”. Anyhow, we people of Jammu and Kashmir claim that the Kashmir dispute is not a territorial in nature; and that it concerns our unfettered right of self determination. However, President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari in his speech said:
‘Our principled position on territorial disputes remains a bedrock of our foreign policy.

We will continue to support the right of the people of Jammu & Kashmir to peacefully choose their destiny in accordance with the UN Security Council's long-standing resolutions on this matter.’

People of Jammu and Kashmir can evaluate this statement and see if the President of Republic of Pakistan has advanced the cause of Kashmir by calling it a ‘territorial dispute’; or back stabbed it. Dr Nazir Gilani was the first Kashmir to express his opinion on this topic and credit must be given to him for this, he said:

‘However, it is untrue that Kashmir is a ‘territorial dispute’ and it is also untrue that it “remains a bedrock of our (Pakistan’s) foreign policy” since 19-23 June 1997 India Pakistan talks held at Islamabad. The talks on outstanding issues of concern, were held “in an integrated manner”. At this meeting Kashmir as a ‘core issue’ slipped from its traditional grace and became as one of the eight outstanding issues. It was decided that Peace and Security including CBMs (confidence building measures) and Jammu and Kashmir, will be dealt at the level of Foreign Secretaries who will co-ordinate and monitor the progress of work of all the working groups’.

Those who keep close eye on Kashmir dispute know that various governments of Pakistan have gradually shifted their stand on Kashmir, and have virtually made it a territorial dispute. However, despite so many shifts, Pakistani officials don’t forget to reiterate that they have a ‘principled stand’ on Kashmir. We know Pakistani stand on Kashmir is ‘principled’ to the extent that, like India, they also want to get Jammu and Kashmir and benefit from its resources and strategic location. And if they cannot get the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir they will be satisfied to ‘legalise’ their control over the Kashmiri territory they have; and they have taken certain steps in this regard. We people of Jammu and Kashmir must critically look at the intentions of New Delhi and Islamabad and should not be swayed by their statements.

Indian Minister External Affairs, SM Krishna, in his reply said: "An unwarranted reference has been made to Jammu and Kashmir from this podium. Our principled position on the issue has been consistent and is well known - the people of Jammu and Kashmir have chosen and reaffirmed their destiny repeatedly through India's well established democratic processes. We wish to make it abundantly clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India."

Mr Krishna acknowledged that he did not ‘expect that President Zardari would make a reference to Kashmir’; and once, for whatever reason, President Zardari talked of Kashmir, India had to reiterate their official stand, legally wrong as it is. He said, ‘nothing more needs to be read to the statements on the issue either from him or Zardari’.

What that means is that both governments have agreed on a road map on Kashmir, and understanding was that both governments would avoid talking about it at the international fora, and ‘resolve’ it bilaterally. In a reply to a question, Mr Krishna was quick to say: "We will continue our dialogue with Pakistan and the road map has been drawn and we will try to stick to the road map and let us see how it goes."
Mr Krishna needs to be reminded that a much bigger and popular leader than him, Prime Minister of India, Pundit Nehru in a report to the All-India Congress Committee, (6 July 1951, The Statesman, New Delhi,) said: “People seem to forget that Kashmir is not a commodity for sale or to be bartered. It has an individual existence and its people must be the final arbiters of their future.”

Apart from that, while talking to the Indian Parliament on 31 March 1955, Prime Minister Nehru said: “Kashmir is not a thing to be bandied about between India and Pakistan but it has a soul of its own and an individuality of its own. Nothing can be done without the goodwill and consent of the people of Kashmir.”

Both Krishna and Zardari need to be reminded that in view of genuine sons of Jammu and Kashmir State, the Kashmir dispute is not a territorial; as it concerns our unfettered right to self determination. To us, the entire State is disputed and no part of it is legally part of any country, so there is no question of it being ‘integral part’ of India or ‘jugular vein’ of Pakistan. You will be doing a disservice to people of Jammu and Kashmir and to peace and stability of the entire region, if you ignore wishes of the people Jammu and Kashmir and impose some decision on us.
Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir View:

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