Published On: Mon, Dec 7th, 2015

“No plebiscite is possible”?

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

On the 110th birth anniversary of his father (and National Conference founder) Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah has said “What did General (Parvez) Musharraf tell Geelani? No plebiscite is possible. We have to decide it ourselves. Work on my four-point formula.” In fact Farooq Abdullah should have reflected upon the usefulness and uselessness of the rule of three generations of Sheikh family to date and tried to reconcile it with the history of the struggle of the people of Kashmir.

No merit

President Musharraf’s four-point formula has never been put to the consent of the people of Kashmir and has never been debated in the Indian and Pakistani Parliaments or the three assemblies of Kashmir. It remains an individual induction. It is unfortunate that Musharraf administration failed the people of Pakistan and his four-point formula on Kashmir has no merit. The present military and the present political leadership in Pakistan has subscribed to the need to resolve the issue based on UN mechanism on Kashmir.

UN assurance

Sheikh Abdullah is the lead person who has spearheaded the Indian desire for UN Security Council intervention in the resolution of Kashmir dispute, allowing the people a free and fair vote as soon as the order was restored in the Jammu and Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah defended the admission of Indian army into the State and held out an assurance to the world community that their presence would not impact upon the freedom of vote because they would be stationed to secure the borders only. United Nations Security Council assured Pakistan and the other two Kashmiris living under Muzaffarabad and Gilgit administrations that the Indian security forces would be subjected to a control on their number, behaviour and location. Today in 2015 we have four Kashmiris, living at Srinagar, Muzaffarabad, Gilgit and as a Kashmiri diaspora around the world.

Conduit of Indian interest

Sheikh Abdullah has defended India and its security forces at the UN Security Council in 1948 and the family has continued to act as a conduit of Indian interest ever since. Unless Sheikh Abdullah has consciously lied to world community at the UN and has knowingly betrayed his own people, there is no reason for Farooq Abdullah to jettison the merits of Kashmir struggle accrued from 1846-2015 and render another betrayal before his death.

“No plebiscite is possible.” If it were so, his father has betrayed the people of Kashmir by supporting Indian application at the UN. Pakistan had expressed her concerns that India was using the UN debates and promise of a Plebiscite just to consolidate her control of a part of Kashmir.  We have yet to debate the merits and de-merits of holding a plebiscite. However, there could be no compromise on the fact that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have a title to self-determination and India and Pakistan have a corresponding interest in Kashmir.

Failed to keep India faithful

Farooq Abdullah needs to be reminded that Plebiscite was made impossible because his father failed to honour the promise made at the UN and failed to keep India faithful to the terms of his reference in her favour. According to Pakistan’s desire Plebiscite could have been concluded by April or May 1948. It was possible because in March 1949 UN Secretary General Trygve Lie nominated Fleet Admiral Chester W Nimitz as Plebiscite Administrator for conducting a Plebiscite in Kashmir. According to Department of State Bulletin, April 3, 1949, names of several prominent US military officers, diplomats and politicians had come into play for the nomination. The Indians and Pakistanis had initially favoured General Walter Bedell Smith, but he declined the offer. In a strong statement of support for the Nimitz nomination, Secretary of State Dean Acheson on March 23 1949 declared that the United States felt honoured that India and Pakistan had agreed to repose confidence in him.

It is unfortunate that Admiral Nimitz delayed his travel for next five years and never got to South Asia to assume his responsibilities. People of Kashmir outsourced their responsibilities and History has been unkind to them. If Sheikh Abdullah had remained truthful to his promises made at the UN, he would have put in place an administration as desired by the UN to accommodate all schools of opinion. On the contrary he created mistrust among people and resorted to a Maharajah type administration, in which all those who dissented were exiled from the Valley. Sheikh used police to inflict torture of its worst nature on the opposition and we find Kashmir being managed through police in 2015.

Partition was preferred to a plebiscite

If one connects the missing links of history, it seems that Sheikh Abdullah had either acted as a sales agent to sell Indian bad faith at the UN or that he fell a victim to Indian intrigue and deception. The telegram 178 from US Embassy in New Delhi to the State Department dated February 7, 1948 (FRUS 1948, V, p.295) cites that “Government of India was most anxious to hold on to Kashmir and that plebiscite offer was eye wash to justify their making the accession” and that it was well known in certain Indian official circles, that partition was preferred to a plebiscite. There was a consensus that because India held the most desirable portions of Kashmir, a postponement of the plebiscite would hurt Pakistan more than it would India.

Confuse the situation and demoralise the people

Sixty-seven years since, Farooq Abdullah has taken upon to play the same dulcimer to confuse the situation and demoralise the people that Plebiscite is not possible. It is for the United Nations, people of Kashmir, Governments of India and Pakistan to sit together and argue out whether plebiscite is possible. If yes, then we have to see the manner in which we can kick-start the UN mechanism on Kashmir. Or we have to find the impediments that make a plebiscite impossible. If plebiscite could be held in Quebec, East Timor and Scotland, why not in Kashmir.

Farooq Abdullah has ducked on the question of ISI. Medicine has undergone a revolution since he graduated as a doctor and politics too has undergone a massive change since his father addressed the UN in 1948. International law and humanitarian law too has developed since the UN came into being in 1948. He has not updated himself on any account. He should have read the lines in the book of former RAW chief A S Dulat, where the latter admits that IB has been running the Government in the State since 1947. V K Singh has yet to respond to a show cause notice issued by the speaker of Srinagar assembly, after he revealed that army had been paying the State politicians and those in the government since 1948.

Happy-go-lucky kind of a politician

Farooq Abdullah is happy-go-lucky kind of a politician and does not feel any need to update himself on the Kashmir case. Therefore he may not be aware that the roles of ISI and RAW have been duly recognised in the joint document prepared by the Institute of Regional Studies, Pakistan and International Centre for Peace Initiatives, India titled “The Beginning of the Future” circulated at the November 2000 Seminar on “Next Steps in Jammu and Kashmir: Give Peace A Chance” held at Gurgaon. Item 5 in the Phase 4 of the Process duly records that, “Military commanders of India and Pakistan should meet and explore the reduction of troops from J & K, AJK and NT. Parallel meetings between the heads of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) should take place to ensure peace in areas of their jurisdiction.” Although Farooq Abdullah is the main character in Dulat’s book, yet he has not bothered to understand the impact of IB on his father’s politics and the impact of establishment on his tenure in politics.

‘Sky is the limit’

The last offer that India made to the people of Kashmir was ‘sky is the limit’, which has been rejected. Therefore the autonomy proposed by Farooq Abdullah has no future, unless it is the beginning of an end. We could have internal self-determination and gradually move towards the external-self-determination.  It has to be a serious effort and not a casual remark, on the birth or death anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah. Even if Farooq Abdullah may mean well that “no plebiscite is possible”, he should not use this argument to legitimise Indian control. Government of India is in Kashmir on provisional admission and her army is subject to a UN discipline in Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah may have invited Indian army but his decision does not carry the people’s consent. It is important to point out that people living under the two administrations on the Pakistani side of Kashmir have not consented in the admission of Indian army in the State.

Sages and solution

There may be some or more merit when Farooq Abdullah says that, “There are some politicians who benefit by this conflict. It is there bread and butter. They enjoy perks from both sides (India and Pakistan). They don’t care what happens to common Kashmiris. That is why they are reacting and asking who is Farooq Abdullah to decide. Well I tell them ‘all you sages if you have any solution please come forward with it.”

He may not have named these politicians who benefit by this conflict but without doubt he is referring to Hurriyat and other non Hurriyat schools of politics. It is unfortunate that he has failed to admit the benefit that this conflict has given to the Sheikh generations and the manner in which his party and other parties have struck a quid pro quo of profit with India. Farooq Abdullah has asked the ‘sages’ if they have a solution and the first ‘sage’ is his own father who has accepted a UN mechanism for the solution of Kashmir. There is no need to give a bad news that – “No plebiscite is possible”?

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