Published On: Mon, Jul 14th, 2014

UNMOGIP bungalow and Kashmir case

By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

Narendra Modi Government is not an ordinary Government in the manner we have seen in India in the past. Its popular mandate embeds a peculiar investment of Indian voter and there is no wisdom in taking up an issue with the choice of a voter. Indian democracy does not have the distractions of allegations of poll rigging. It does not mean that the Government elected does not suffer from other genuine caveats and distractions. The issue of Jammu and Kashmir sits on the UN agenda. The question of Muslim minority has its own merits and sneaks into the interests of over 57 Muslim countries and into the international interest as a question of minorities.

Modi Government has set itself up to a Mission 44+ in Jammu and Kashmir. BJP’s has started believing that its electoral chances in J&K could be made bright. It has a committed leadership, organisation, inclusive ideology, positive agenda, strategy, and above all the courage of conviction and confidence that is needed to meet political challenges. BJP knows well that Kashmir is not going away the self-determination’s ways so soon. It does not mean that the people of Jammu and Kashmir, in particular, in the Valley, PaK, GB and Diaspora have surrendered their title to self-determination on the basis of equality of people. Political and administrative players in Delhi may for human reasons start reading too much into the electoral success of BJP or may wish to prosecute the Modi brand politics and develop an insensitive approach of just manage the Kashmir Valley, may not be a wise semi-arc in the full circle of wisdom. The reality and the ghost of Kashmir case is not going away.

There is no denying the fact that Modi government has inducted men and women of merit into its policy making and some of these recruits have Kashmir on their fingertips. They can either make a mature and fruitful contribution towards a resolution of the case or fall into an error and start disturbing the calm.  Indian Government’s move to ask the UNMOGIP to vacate the bungalow — 1AB, Purana Qila Road, housed free of charge has caused many ripples in Kashmir, Pakistan, UN and all over the world.

Asking UNMOGIP to vacate its offices in Delhi has its political and diplomatic manifestations. There have been many responses on the subject, some of them very interesting. The first main response on this subject came from the Pakistan. Foreign office of Pakistan on 10 July 2014 expressed itself on behalf of the Government as follows:

Question

“Yesterday, the Modi government has asked the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to vacate the official building which it has occupied for 40 years. So you don’t think that it is a clear message to Military Observer Group that Kashmir issue has been solved and Pakistan Government should accept this division of Kashmir, particularly when seen together with the efforts to remove Article 370? What are your views on Modi government’s decision of asking UNMOGIP to vacate their official building?”

Answer

“At the last briefing, we responded to questions related to Article 370. It was stated that we don’t accept Kashmir’s so called accession to India.

As regards the UNMOGIP, I won’t look at it in this sense.  Asking the UN Observers to move out of a building or payment of rent is inconsequential in the context of the status of Jammu & Kashmir. There is a reason why UNMOGIP is present in the first place. Asking them to move out of the building does not abolish the mandate which was given by the UN Security Council in 1951 under Resolution 91. As long as the Kashmir dispute is not resolved, the UNSC mandate remains. These measures are inconsequential and they do not have any impact on the legal status of the dispute.”

Pakistani statement brings out the crux of the issue, that is, “These measures are inconsequential and they do not have any impact on the legal status of the dispute.” One needs to examine the Indian demand in the first place. The government (member nation of UN does not do this in normal circumstances) has attempted to score a diplomatic point through the issue of economics. Its case is that UNMOGIP has been enjoying the use of the bungalow free of costs. The demand of rent does not reflect well in any manner, be it diplomatic or economic, on the host country.

UNMOGIP is a reminder of the need for peace and maintaining a cease fire between the highly equipped armies of two nations. Its presence continues to calm down the nerves in the people of Jammu and Kashmir, currently living under three administrations and spread as a strong Diaspora around the world, in the hope that there would be a resolution of the question of their title to self-determination. UNMOGIP is a creature of UN Security Council and the mandate flows from the application made by the Government of India before the UN Security Council on 01 January 1948 to seek ratification of the people of Jammu and Kashmir under the auspices of UN on the future of the provisional accession of the State with India. The accession has been disputed by Government of Pakistan and slated as ‘fraud and made under coercion’. People of Kashmir have played no part in this arrangement and have been assured by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and the Government of India at the UN, that the provisional agreement would be put to people’s ratification or otherwise in a free and fair plebiscite.

UNMOGIP or the presence of UN in any country has a special significance. It puts the habitat on the world map in an instant and equally highlights the democratic credentials of the host country. There is no doubt that some if not many in the Delhi administration see UNMOGIP as a reminder to the fact that a part of Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir) has been outsourced to their charge by the United Nations and it involves that the Government of India conducts itself accordingly. The principal among these duties is helping the State Government to set up a Provisional Government comprising of all ‘principal elements’, representing all communities (including the minorities), to take forward an atmosphere of trust for holding a free and free plebiscite under the auspices of UN.

UNMOGIP equally continues to remind the forgetful that there is a cease fire for a reason and it fits into other cease fire arrangements (renamed as LOC) bilaterally agreed by India and Pakistan under their Intra-State obligations and duties to UN Charter. A bilateral agreement does not override a resolution of the UN Security Council. India and Pakistan could take their seats at the UN Security Council debates only when invited by the President of the UN Security Council. A common understanding of UNMOGIP is that it connects India and Pakistan into keeping calm and assures the world community that there is no threat to world peace and security.

UNMOGIP or no UNMOGIP, there is a full regime of UN Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir and there is a UN mechanism in place for the resolution of Kashmir. UNMOGIP are not going anywhere from Delhi, except that, the weak argument of economics involved in the matter may force them to rehouse  in a rented property or move to the Supreme Court of India that they are silent tenants since 1949 and would not vacate the property. It would be very difficult for India to evict UNMOGIP and would be a cause of major diplomatic embarrassment if UN refuses to vacate and the matter is either referred to the Supreme court of India or taken up a fresh by the UN Security Council for a future decision.

As I said earlier Modi administration has some skilled hands that have Kashmir on their fingertips but there is every possibility that they may give in to emotions and err on merit of the jurisprudence of Kashmir case as Delhi seems to have erred in terms of UNMOGIP bungalow. UNMOGIP has its Summer and Winter offices at Srinagar and in Islamabad as well. Therefore, vacating (if it comes to that) Delhi office and rehousing itself does not make any difference. Indian Government can’t afford to ask them to pack lock, stock and barrel.

The latter decision would infuriate the people of Kashmir, Government of Pakistan (people in particular), cause a stir in the OIC, the UN Security Council and in the General Assembly. India would cause itself a rebuke at the UN and trigger a fresh debate on Kashmir, which it has been assiduously trying to avoid over the years. It entails a further risk for India that if a fresh debate starts at the UN the developments over the years would rejuvenate the merits of UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir and the fresh debate may help to narrow down any deficits on the principle of equity and a further clarification that UN Security Council Resolutions in regard to maintaining world peace and security remain enforceable through various means, including the military.

Government of India would have been intrigued to find the Kashmiri reaction on the issue. Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has volunteered that the people of Jammu and Kashmir would pay for the rent of UNMOGIP offices in Delhi. The situation might spin out of Indian control and the question of the use of natural resources of Kashmir embedded in the habitat might come up for a debate. Government of India might be the first loser on the economics of the argument that she has used in UNMOGIP bungalow case.

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