Published On: Tue, Oct 27th, 2015

I apologize and another apology due

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

In a television interview in the US former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has apologised for his share in Iraq war, in particular for its planning and aftermath, which gave birth to ISIS. He has said “I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong. I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.”

We are faced with a similar situation in Kashmir Valley where a trustee has not only failed to carry out the trust but it has degenerated into complete subjection at the hands of military forces and other agencies. Indian security forces have been admitted into the State with an olive branch in their hands and a pack of four duties to carry out, for a period that would intervene between October 27 1947 and the final duty under UN package slated in para 4 B (f), that is, create “The conditions necessary for a free and fair plebiscite on the question of whether the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall accede to India or to Pakistan, including an interim administration which will command confidence and respect of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, must be established”.

India has failed to create the necessary conditions for a free and fair plebiscite and it did not put in place an interim administration as envisaged in the UN Security Council report S/667 dated 10 February 1948. There has been a heavy loss of life, exiles, killing of civilians tagged as militants, maiming of youth, burning alive of common people, placing leaders and political activists under house arrests, imprisonment of others and managing the State through a security and police apparatus.

Manhandling and arrest of JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, that too in the month of Muharram, for a peaceful expression of his well-established political view and desire to assert the rights of the people, are scenes that take us back to Stone Age. These are tactics used by Hitler and an earlier oppression used in Karbala by the oppressor. Yasin Malik was thrashed along with his fellow activists, Shabir Ahmad Dar, Javid Mir and others. It was state machinery set upon innocent citizens and in particular those accorded due protocol when it served Delhi. The due dignity and protocol is the right of all Kashmiri leaders and the people. According to the terms of admission into the State and the UN resolutions Indian security forces are non-State personnel. Therefore another apology is due from Delhi for the actions of its personnel in Kashmir.

Kashmiri leadership of all manner should not wait until the persecution receives them on the street or visits them at a function or in their home. Yasin Malik at the point of being manhandled was not an individual but a symbol of popular expression of a dissent or disagreement with the State apparatus. A well-considered collective response is the litmus test of all leaders. As a start it is time that we press the State government elected through the common vote to pronounce whether it is there under oath to serve the common Kashmiri or serve as a proxy in the hands of Delhi to manage Kashmir.

There are no two opinions that Srinagar assembly is imperfect and elected from only a part of the State. There are two other assemblies at Muzaffarabad and Gilgit. One can’t discount the fourth large constituency of Kashmiri Diaspora. The first and foremost demand should be that we replace the PDP-BJP administration and demand to have an interim administration at Srinagar as envisaged in the UN Security Council report S/667 dated 10 February and as finally agreed, which is fully representative and “commands confidence and respect of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir”.

The interim administration would of course have an inscribed concurrence and representation from Muzaffarabad and Gilgit. Pakistan has endorsed the setting up of an interim administration in Kashmir and has agreed to outsource the work for the preparation of plebiscite to this interim administration.

Prima facie it makes a difference that United States has corrected itself and slated Kashmir as a dispute (not an issue) during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit and discussion with President Obama. US may have to address itself on a need basis criterion on a daily basis or on an event to event basis. On that count Obama or any other President may be compelled to play safe for its interests and regard Kashmir dispute as something to be solved bilaterally between India and Pakistan.

Kashmiri leadership and their sympathisers (Pakistan in particular) should not be discouraged and should focus on the correct interpretation of a bilateral approach on Kashmir as envisaged in the UN mechanism on Kashmir. The manner of bilateralism is defined in the para 4 A of UN Security Council document S/667 dated 10 February 1948. It reads, “Takes note with satisfaction that both Governments, in seeking a solution by negotiation under the auspices of the Council, have agreed to co-operate with each other and with the Council in developing specific proposals and, to this end, to apply the following principles which, in the opinion of the Council, should, among others, constitute the basis of a just settlement”.

United States has further clarified the manner of bilateralism at the 607th meeting of the UN Security Council held on 5 December 1952. It has stated, “we welcome any agreement which the parties themselves can reach on any basis which will settle the dispute, provided of course that basis is consistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”. If it were a bilateral dispute of any ordinary manner, India would not have submitted it for a mediation or adjudication of the United Nations Security Council. India has pleaded the manner in which it was seeking a reference through a free vote of Kashmiri people under UN supervision. In addition, equality of people and right to self-determination is the principal principle of UN Charter.

After the apology of Tony Blair that their policies in Iraq war remain responsible for the rise of ISIS, India has a case to revisit on its coercive methods in Kashmir. India may not have declared “an open war” against the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but as rightly said by former RAW chief A S Dulat, “The IB had a sinister reputation in the Kashmiri mind. Part of it was because since Independence, the IB had basically been running Kashmir, advising the home ministry and reporting directly to the prime minister on whatever happened there,” (Page 205). The continued use of surreptitious means put in place in October 1947, had to face the new Kashmiri generation at some point and that came about in 1990. Ever since Indian security forces are engaged in a war-like drill with the common people in Kashmir.

If the Indian security forces breach the terms of reference agreed at the time of their admission into Kashmir and violate the three UN cautions, the presence of these forces changes into occupation forces. United Nations has its mechanism in place to assist such people (Kashmiri) to undo the occupation. It may be debated that UN should have been put on notice before the use of militant resistance in Kashmir. UN Security Council has a duty to use a military force against a non-compliant member nation which violates the principle of equality and self-determination.

It is now academic to state that Kashmiris would have saved a generation, if they had worked hard and wisely to pressure UN to take steps to undo Indian administering the state. There was a disturbing lapse from November 1965 to August 1996. An opinion could have been sought from International Court of Justice on the changed status of Indian security forces and an action against India could have followed under UN Security Council.

India has no case of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. Indian claim of a terrorism in Kashmir is rubbished by A S Dulat in his book ‘Kashmir – The Vajpayee Years’. He writes “and the movement in Kashmir has provided the army with an opportunity to expand its presence in J & K. Though the army justifies its heavy deployment by periodically raising the bogie of infiltration, it is not restricted to the border; many Kashmiris feel the army has turned the entire Valley into a cantonment”. He adds that “army did not want to cede power that it wielded,” (Page 232).

There may have been disappointments of our own making; in particular from 1990-2015 and more specific during Musharraf rule, hopes are also emerging on the horizon. We have a case at the United Nations and its bilateralism has to be interpreted correctly. Pakistan has updated and refined its narrative starting from UN General Assembly in New York, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif’s address at Royal United Services Institute for Defence & Security (RUSI) in London and ending with the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s US visit. We need to encourage the bilateral engagement between India and Pakistan as envisaged in the UN package on Kashmir. And we need to remind ourselves that, “If Winter Comes: Can Spring be far Behind”. Never, I suppose.


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