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Integral Part or Disputed Territory

By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani-

[1]In the run up to Prime Minster Nerandra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistani and Indian narratives on Jammu and Kashmir crisscrossed in their merit and content. Pakistan set the tone. Foreign Office Spokesperson of Pakistan on Thursday 3 July 2014 in reply to a question said, “We do not accept the so- called accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India. Kashmir is not an integral part of India. Our position is that Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory. People of the State of Jammu and Kashmir have yet to exercise their right to self-determination which has been assured to them by almost 20 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. So, we don’t accept the accession claimed by India and we don’t accept Kashmir as integral part of India.”

Pakistan narrative

It seemed that Pakistan has updated its narrative in line with article 257 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, its assumed share in the AJK Act 1974 under UNCIP Resolutions in providing a better Government and better administration in the area until the dispute is resolved in accordance with UN Resolutions, its obligations as a member nation of UN towards the right of self-determination on the principle of equality and as a party to the Kashmir dispute. The update may not be faultless and has to continue its upgrade.

Indian narrative

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson of India a day after, on Friday 4 July 2014, in its response said that, “Our position is that Jammu and Kashmir remains and will remain an integral part of India. As regards the language of a bygone era, it does not serve anybody, any purpose to look into the rear view mirror and speak in terms of which are not in consonance with what Prime Minister and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are working towards”. The spokesperson further added that, “Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. The Prime Minister of India can visit any part of India anytime he desires.”

Integral part

There is no doubt that Indian Government has a higher burden of responsibility in Kashmir. However, this duty does not confirm that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. The option in this regard is there and the people of Jammu and Kashmir have yet to exercise it or the other two options of accession to Pakistan or forming an independent State with a membership at the United Nations.

Indian admission into the State is provisional and based on four principal duties, namely, Defence of the territory, Protection of Life, Honour and Property. There is an emerging debate that since India has failed in discharging the first duty in regard to the defence of the territory and has failed to protect life in Kashmir, the accession may have been vitiated at core. Any duty performed by the Indian Security Forces in Kashmir in addition to these four stipulations remains extraneous to the merits of the agreement and purpose of their admission into the State.

Moreover, the accession has been placed before the UN Security Council for arranging a ratification or otherwise by the people of the State under the auspices of the United Nations. Therefore, the arrangement caused through the accession of 26 October 1947 has been taken over by the interests of 195 countries of the UN (including Pakistan as a member nation of UN and as a party). Pakistan as a party to the dispute administers two administrations of the State on its side of cease fire line.

India has taken over under the UNCIP Resolutions to assist in establishing a representative provisional administration at Srinagar, to work for creating a conducive atmosphere for holding a free and fair Plebiscite for all the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir living in all the three administrations of the State. Post 1947 and post UN debates on Kashmir, a fourth Kashmiri, the Diaspora have also emerged on the scene.

Although Jammu and Kashmir under the administrative charge of India may have been through an exercise of giving itself a constitution on 17 November 1956, it has its own problems to overcome. As a start, the Constitution was adopted post UN Security Council Resolution of 30 March 1951. Since after, the National Conference and the J & K assembly continue to remain under a UN caution that, it is elected from only a part of the State and is not fully representative of all the people and that any decision taken by it (assembly) at variance with UN manner of resolving the dispute would be coram non judice (without lawful authority).

Beyond NC, PDP or…

Government of India has to see beyond NC, PDP or any other State based political party that for reasons of power continue to manipulate the jurisprudence of State – India relationship. The entrenched imposing attitudes no more work or carry the day in this age. India should not err to be seen as walking in colonial boots in a Muslim majority State. It should work to see whether there are any takers of its option (ratification of accession with India) and at the same time allow the other two options a level field to build their constituency.

One thing that is missing in Indian narrative – are the people of Jammu and Kashmir as equal people with a title to self-determination. Pakistan is a party to the dispute and at the same time remains obliged to discharge the UN Charter obligations as well. Therefore, she may have her manner of response to Indian statement that Pakistan is using a “language of a bygone era.” For the people of Jammu and Kashmir, India has bound itself in the document of accession and at the United Nations.

A reason

There must have been a reason that Valley streets remained deserted on the arrival of Prime Minister Modi. Leading mosques in the Valley could not hold prayers on the First Friday of the month of Ramazan. There should have been some reason to interfere in the freedom of religion of an ‘integrated people’. Why should the arrival of a Prime Minister be the cause of Srinagar turning into a ghost city and mosques deserted by a decree? State administration and the security apparatus have erred against the Constitution of India, against the terms of accession and against the Indian obligation under UN Resolutions by creating an atmosphere of fear and by taking the people out of circulation for one day on Friday 4 July 2014.

Missed opportunity

It is a missed opportunity for taking the Vajpayee doctrine forward. Train may have been flagged off from Katra but political will has stopped short of the people of Kashmir. Prime Minister has been ill advised and has been boxed away from a people who have been exposed to the death of a generation, unprecedented violation of human rights never witnessed in 144 years from 1846-1990, economic collapse, life below poverty line, unemployment, massive corruption and loss of dignity. Kashmir has a trained militia of youth and there is evidence that young graduates are giving it a try on their own. The distance between a peaceful resolution and a disaffected finger sitting on the trigger is very small. Jammu and Kashmir is not Punjab or any other State of India to be brought on its knees through police management.

It is a habitat and a people, where Pakistan as a party and the other 194 countries have subscribed to a debated and textualised role in the resolution of Kashmir question. Government of Pakistan can’t resist the pressure of 2.5 million Kashmiri refugees represented through 12 members in PaK assembly, can’t avoid its assumed roles in PaK and GB and would not risk to confront the constituency of support and sympathy that exists for the people of Kashmir and spread all over Pakistan. The military mind on the question of Kashmir has been expressed by army chief in his speech on 30 April, 2014 while addressing a function in connection with fifth Youm-i-Shohada to pay homage to the martyrs in Rawalpindi.

Violation of Water Resources Act

All has not gone well for the Prime Minister on the day. The revelation of Minister for Health and Medical education and senior Congress leader Taj Mohiuddin on the day of visit that the 240 MW Uri-II Hydro Electric Project inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has no license to operate does not help in any manner. Prime Minister in fact has been made to violate the Jammu and Kashmir Water Resources Act. According to the State minister NHPC has been deceiving the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In this regard Taj as the minister for PHE and Irrigation had written to Prime Minister’s Office during Dr Manmohan Singh’s period informing the PMO that the NHPC has not obtained any license for the project so Dr Singh should not give his consent to inaugurate the same.

It seems that NHPC has violated the state laws and the government would be within law to shut down the project.  It is also being considered that people of Uri will now approach the High Court through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the NHPC.  All has not gone well and it was not right to interfere with faith on the First Friday of Ramazan.