Monday, 8 June 2015

Resolving Kashmir Relevance of UN Resolutions, Niloofar Qureshi

Resolving Kashmir Relevance of UN Resolutions
Niloofar Qureshi


“Obstinacy is the result of the will forcing itself into the place of the intellect.”   

- Arthur Schopenhauer  (German Philosopher, 1788-1860)

No one can deny that we are indeed an extremely unique and rare breed since we possess such a chronic and incurable trait of unbounded optimism that it virtually borders on obstinacy. After all, where else can we find a people who despite a futile wait for more than six decades, still believe that the international community would help resolve the Kashmir impasse. So, while the recent statement of President Obama, reiterating yet once again that USA would not intervene in resolving the Kashmir issue may have cast a spell of despondency, be rest assured that it is just a temporary phase. We still believe that America, which today calls the shots within the international community, would someday undergo a ‘change of heart’ and reverse this decision and other civilized nations would ‘follow the leader’!

We, the lesser mortals may be faulted for harbouring excessive optimism, but we are not fully to blame. Firstly, we lack adequate insight into the murky world of international politics and secondly, we unhesitatingly believe our leaders when they tell us that the international community is on ‘our side’. But what makes our leaders, who despite being betrayed so many times by the international community in the last six decades, so optimistic as regards international intervention? What makes them so confident that given the unprincipled foreign policy of the Americans, ‘Uncle Sam’ would come to the aid of a people led by a octogenarian who has never lost an opportunity for pillorying the Americans for its pro Zionist and anti Islamic leanings and even dared offer funeral prayers for America’s most wanted- Osama bin Laden!

Optimism is no doubt a healthy trait that helps a person maintain composure and mental balance during crisis. However, in the law of nature as is wont to be, excess of everything is bad and optimism is no exception, since it blurs the distinction between reality and fantasy. And when this happens, the mind rejects logic and instinctively selects an option simply because it suits one’s dream or desire. This in turn leads to skewed thinking in which over obsession with one’s own point of view overrides rationality. Since ‘optimistically selected’ options disregard its effect on others, they run a high risk of being impractical. Our over obsession with the UN resolutions on Kashmir is one such example.

While a lot has been written and discussed about UN resolutions and the Kashmir issue, one aspect which is often glossed over is about the options available to the people of the State to decide their future.  The Indian Independence Act 1947 gave the princely states the options of either joining one of the newly independent countries of India and Pakistan or to remain outside them.  And even though the UN resolutions recogonise three parties (India, Pakistan and the people of J&K) as the stakeholders in this dispute, UN Resolution 47 (1948) gives the people of J&K only the right to participate in a “free and impartial plebiscite to decide whether the State of Jammu and Kashmir is to accede to India or Pakistan.”

While it may appear that the people of J&K have been given a ‘grand mandate’ by the UN to decide their own future, in practical terms, the plebiscite is nothing more than choosing between the ‘devil and the deep sea’ because the choice is limited only to choosing whether to become a part of either India or Pakistan. The UN resolution has conveniently omitted the ‘third’ option to ‘remain outside’, which is guaranteed by the Indian Independence Act 1947 and this option was exercised by the State of Sikkim which remained an independent identity till as late as 1975. So, why did the UN deny this option to the people of J&K? And how can the UN model of Plebiscite in Kashmir be construed as an effective measure that would enable the people of J&K to  holistically exercise their ‘right of self determination’, when they cannot opt for ‘azadi’ or self rule?

Thus, in the ultimate analysis it becomes clear that the insistence of our leaders for the UN resolutions on Kashmir be implemented has nothing worthwhile to offer other than the choice of ‘cage’ Kashmiris wish to live in! So, before our leaders tell us to perform our ‘national duty’ by protesting against ‘illegal occupation’ of our land by New Delhi, they must first tell us in no uncertain terms as to how they plan to get us ‘azadi’ when there are no provisions for the same in the UN resolutions? And if all that the so called ‘right of self determination’ boils down is merely to decide whether to be a part of India or Pakistan, then are the privations and sacrifices being sought from us by our leaders justified? Why are our leaders silent on this key ingredient of the UN resolutions on Kashmir which in practical terms holds no promise for bettering our lot?

While most of us would not mind suffering for a brighter tomorrow which holds the hope of freedom, given its precarious condition, how many of us will seriously sacrifice for merely becoming a subject State of Pakistan? How many would prefer to be a part of a country which is abysmally indifferent to the sensitivities of its ethnic minorities? While the oppressive Indian regime in Kashmir cannot be condoned, New Delhi, unlike Islamabad has at least maintained the ethnic integrity in J&K by prohibiting outsiders from settling down in the State. At a time when our leaders are grappling with the perceived problem of a “cultural and ideological invasion,” how can they ever think of opting for Pakistan which encourages outsiders to settle in those parts of Kashmir under its control?

Our leaders need to understand that the anti India sentiment of the people does not automatically render them pro Pakistan. The UN model of Plebiscite makes a mockery of ‘the right to self determination’ and this is why the UN resolutions need to be dumped in the Chenab. The contours of the ‘freedom struggle’ movement need to be redefined so that the true aspirations of the people of Kashmir are addressed. Blindly carrying the baggage of history which has no relevance today is a self defeating enterprise. It is time to shed over optimism and our obstinacy must give way to logic, because the Kashmir issue can only be resolved through rational thinking and not by emotions.

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