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Thursday, July 18, 2024

US’s contradicting stance on Kashmir issue despite UN resolutions

Amjed Jaaved discusses how the US spokesperson's statements regarding Kashmir in a recent news conference goes against the traditional US stance on the Kashmir dispute. The US has always maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed State, however, in the past, India has made attempts to dissuade the US regarding Kashmir.

At his daily news conference, the United State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, inter alia, said, “The US policy with regard to Kashmir has not changed. We welcome steps to return the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to full economic and political normalcy consistent with India’s democratic values.”

The United States’ view is not synonymous with the United Nations’ resolutions on the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. Yet, despite the severe internal jolts that the US has suffered, the US view still creates waves, so to say. As the phrase goes `When America Sneezes, the World Catches Cold.’

The US statement amounts to a mumbo jumbo as it does not clarify what the United States’ position on Kashmir had been in the past.

As per the UN resolutions, the Jammu and Kashmir had been a princely State disputed, not a Union Territory, between India and Pakistan. Changing its status without the UN’s approval amounts to a violation of the agreements India has signed with the UN. A jus cogen of international law is pacta sunt servanda. Treaties are to be observed. And they are binding on parties. Any state violating international treaties qualifies as a rogue state.

Read more: Op-ed: UN should grant ‘some status’ and declare India a rogue state

In the past, the USA has steadfastly resisted India’s efforts to create confusion about the disputed status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It appears that the new administration has been hoodwinked by India.

India’s “efforts” regarding Kashmir

Kashmir conflict is a maleficent legacy of the British raj. India, not Pakistan, took the Kashmir issue to the UN in 1948 under article 35 of Chapter VI (Pacific Settlement of Disputes) which outlines the means for a peaceful settlement of disputes.

India avoided presenting the Kashmir case under UN Chapter VII which relates to acts of aggression. Obviously, it did so because it knew that Kashmir was a disputed state. And, the issue of its integration with India or Pakistan remained to be resolved.

Many a time, India and Pakistan went to fisticuffs to settle this dispute. Following their first war on Kashmir, both India and Pakistan accepted a ceasefire from January 1, 1949, under the supervision of UN observers. No UN resolution incorporates India’s view that maharajah had acceded to India.

Read more: India, Pakistan agree to restore ceasefire along disputed Kashmir border

The main resolutions on Kashmir are: (a) United Nations’ Commission for India Pakistan (UNCIP) Resolution dated August 13, 1948. Para 75 (Serial110) in Part III of this resolution states:

“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 and to that end, upon acceptance of the truce agreement, both Governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured.”

The UNCIP Resolution dated January 5, 1949, Para 51 (Serial 1196) states:

‘The question of 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’.

On November 2, 1947, Nehru declared in a radio broadcast that the government of India was “prepared, when peace and order have been established in Kashmir, to have a referendum held under international auspices like the United Nations.”

Till 1953, India was, at least verbally, committed to the plebiscite. But, in the subsequent period, it had been making frantic efforts to warp the United Nation Organization and woo the United States of America in her favour.  The Instrument of Accession does not exist. India never presented it before the UN.

Read more: Myth of Accession: A History of Kashmir

UN’s admonition on `accession’ farce 

Aware of India’s intention to get the Instrument of Accession rubber-stamped by the puppet occupied Kashmir assembly, the Security Council passed two resolutions to forestall the `foreseeable accession’ by the puppet assembly.

Security Council’s Resolution No 9 of March 30, 1951, and affirmative Resolution No 122 of March 24, 1957 outlaws accession or any other action to change the status of the Jammu and Kashmir state.

The subsequent `accession’ of the disputed state, through a resolution of the puppet assembly, also is null and void. This `resolution’ violates the Security Council’s aforementioned directive, forbidding India from taking any measure to forge ‘accession’ of the state.

Read more: UN Security Council meeting on Kashmir sends India into Panic

Was the ‘Instrument of Accession’ even signed by the Maharajah?

Renowned journalist Alastair Lamb, in his book titled Kashmir: a disputed legacy, also regards the Instrument of Accession, ‘signed’ by the maharajah of Kashmir on October 26, 1947, as fraudulent.

He argues that the maharajah was travelling by road to Jammu (a distance of over 350 km). How could he sign the instrument while being on the run for the safety of his life? There is no evidence of any contact between him and the Indian emissaries on October 26, 1947.

Actually, it was on October 27, 1947, that the maharajah was informed by M.C.Mahajan and V.P.Menon (who had flown into Srinagar) that an Instrument of Accession is being fabricated in New Delhi. Obviously, the maharajah could not have signed the instrument earlier than October 27, 1947.

Read more: Op-ed: How India distorted the truth to control occupied Kashmir

The instrument remains null and void, even if the maharajah had actually signed it. The reason, as pointed out by Alastair is that the `signatures’ were obtained under coercion. He points out Indian troops had already arrived at and secured Srinagar airfield during the middle of October 1947.

On October 26, 1947, a further airlift of thousands of Indian troops to Kashmir took place. He questions: “Would the maharajah have signed the Instrument of Accession, had the Indian troops not been on Kashmiri soil?”

It is eerie to note that India never showed the original `Instrument’ at any international forum. If India was truthful, he should have the temerity to present the document to Pakistan or to the UN.

Isn’t it funny that, in the summer of 1995, the Indian authorities reported the original document as lost or stolen? This fact further beclouds the authenticity of the document.

Read more: India’s claims on Kashmir rest on a dubious legal instrument

India hoodwinks US administration through its mouthpiece Solarz

During the temporary absence of Pakistan’s representative India tried to get the `India-Pakistan Question’ deleted from the UN agenda.  India based her plea on Security Council’s informal decision, dated July 30, 1996, about deleting dormant questions. The Question was deleted during the Pak rep’s absence but was restored to the agenda upon his arrival.

Read more: Kashmir: an unresolved question on UN agenda

Again, at India’s behest, US Congressman Stephen Solarz elicited the statement from Bush-administration high-level diplomat, John H. Kelly, that plebiscite was no longer possible in Kashmir.

Here is an extract of Solarz’s grilling questions and the gullible answers thereto.

Mr Solarz: What is the position of the United States with respect to whether there should be a plebiscite?

Mr Kelly: First of all we believe that Kashmir is a disputed territory…

Mr. Solarz: Well, how did we vote upon that resolution at the U.N. back in 1949?

Mr Kelly: In favour, Mr Chairman.

Mr. Solarz:  Right. So at that time we favored a plebiscite. Do we still favour a plebiscite, or not? Or is it our position now that whether or not there should be a plebiscite is a matter, which should be determined bilaterally between India and Pakistan?

Mr. Kelly:  Basically, that’s right, Mr. Chairman.

Mr Solarz:  So we are no longer urging a plebiscite be held?

Mr Kelly:  That’s right.

Read more: India in Kashmir: International law invalidates occupation

To India’s chagrin, John R. Mallot, the US State Department’s point man for South Asia in 1993, corrected Kelly’s faux pas. He told the House Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Asia and the Pacific on April 28, 1993 that John Kelly ‘misspoke’ in 1990 when he said that the United States no longer believed a plebiscite was necessary in South Asia. Mallot clarified that Kelly made his comment after ‘continued grilling’ by the panel’s (pro-India) chairman, Stephen J. Solarz of New York.

Avid readers may refer to Solarz-Kelly conversation and corrective policy action taken by the US State Department in Robert G. Wirsing’s book India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute, published by Macmillan Press Limited, London in 1994. They may also see Mushtaqur Rehman’s Divided Kashmir: Old Problems, New Opportunities for India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people.

On October 28, 1993, Robin Raphel, in her statement, clarified that Washington does not recognise the Instrument of Accession to India. In its perception, Kashmir was a disputed territory, not an integral part of India. The future status of the state remained to be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir.

Read more: India move to sabotage Kashmir at OIC failed: Pakistan

India has no claim on Kashmir

Kashmir is a simmering nuclear tinderbox. There is no UN resolution incorporating India’s volte-face that India-occupied Kashmir has acceded to India through the so-called state assembly’s resolution.  Till recently, the USA viewed Kashmir as a disputed state and offered mediation. Even former US president Trump offered mediation to settle the dispute.

Despite lapse of over 70 years, India has not fulfilled its promise of a plebiscite in Kashmir. India’s attitude negates the cardinal principles in inter-state relations, that is, pacta sunt servanda `treaties are to be observed’ and are binding upon signatories.

The UN observers are still on duty on the line of actual control. They submit annual report to the UN’s secretary general.  This report identifies Kashmir as an unresolved international problem.

Mr Amjed Jaaved has been writing freelance for over five decades. He has served the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan for 39 years. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies and magazines at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is the author of eight e-books including The Myth of Accession. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.