July 2001 News

Unwrapping Kashmir

6 July 2001
The Hindustan Times
Vasant Sathe

New Delhi: With a few days to go before President Pervez Musharraf arrives, expectations are building up in both India and Pakistan.Musharraf will be in a position to resolve the Kashmir tangle as long as he can satisfy the armed forces and the people of Pakistan. Pakistan has been continuously talking about seeking a solution to the Kashmir problem under the UN resolution of August 13, 1948. India’s stand is that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir — including Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) — is an integral part of India. If both parties stick to these extreme positions, no solution can be found. The Hurriyat is also depending on the UN resolution, which, in ‘part C’, talks about asserting the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine the future status of the state. The UN resolution is in three parts. Part I: Paras A, B, C, D and E deal with ceasefire agreed upon by both India and Pakistan. Both parties agree to ensure that all forces under their command shall refrain from taking any measures that might augment the military potential of the forces under their control. It makes it clear that this includes all forces — organised and unorganised — fighting or participating in hostilities. Part II: After implementation of Part I, both parties agree that a truce agreement based on the principles mentioned in this part shall be worked out by both the parties and the UN Commission for India and Pakistan mentioned in the resolution. The important sections of Part II are sub-parts A, B and C. Sub-para ‘A’ of Para 1 states that the government of Pakistan has agreed to withdraw its forces from the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Para (2) states that the government of Pakistan will use its best endeavour to secure the withdrawal of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals from the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Para (3) states that the territory so vacated, pending a final solution, shall be administered by the local authorities of Jammu and Kashmir. In sub-part B, the United Nations’ resolution states: “(1) When the commission shall have notified the government of India that the tribesmen and Pakistani nationals… have withdrawn, thereby terminating the situation which was represented by the government of India to the Security Council as having occasioned the presence of Indian forces in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and further, that the Pakistani forces are being withdrawn from the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the government of India agrees to begin to withdraw the bulk of its forces from that state in stages to be agreed upon with the commission.” Thus, it is clear from the specific language that unless steps and conditions are carried out and met, further measures as required by the resolution cannot be taken. The resolution goes on to clearly state that after both parties have put their signatures to the full text of the truce agreement in terms of the principles mentioned above, it would be made public. Part III is the concluding part of the resolution which states: “The government of India and the government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future stature 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.” During the discussion and correspondence, the UN Commission for India and Pakistan had specifically given assurances to India that the plebiscite proposals would not be binding on India if Pakistan does not implement Part I and II of the resolution — that is, the total vacation of the occupied territory and its restoration to the authority of the Jammu and Kashmir government. In the Simla agreement, the following factors were agreed upon: * Responsibility for the security of the state of Jammu and Kashmir rests with the government of India. * The sovereignty of the Jammu and Kashmir government over the entire territory of the state shall not be brought into question. * There shall be no recognition of the so-called Azad Kashmir government. * The territory occupied by Pakistan shall not be consolidated to the disadvantage of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. * The administration of the evacuated areas in the north shall revert to the government of Jammu and Kashmir and its defence to the government of India, which will, if necessary, maintain garrisons for preventing the incursion of tribesmen, and for guarding the main trade routes. * Pakistan shall be excluded from all affairs of Jammu and Kashmir — especially a plebiscite, if one should be held. * If a plebiscite is found to be impossible for technical or practical reasons, the commission will consider other methods of determining fair and equitable conditions for ensuring a free expression of the people’s will. * Plebiscite proposals shall not be binding upon India if Pakistan does not implement Part I and II of the resolution of August 13, 1948. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee should have no hesitation to discuss the basic issues and cause of conflict — Kashmir — with Musharraf. The major portion of the four-hour summit meeting could be devoted to the Kashmir issue itself, in terms of the UN resolution. This single gesture would satisfy the main purpose of the summit. This would be the most honest and straightforward way to resolve this long and irritating issue. Organisations like the Hurriyat, which are clamouring for self-determination, will have to await the implementation of Part I and II of the resolution. Pending the vacation of the Pakistan occupied Kashmir and its restoration to the Jammu and Kashmir government, Pakistan should allow the establishment of a secular democratic government in PoK after holding a free and fair election under the supervision of the UN Commission for India and Pakistan. During this period, as there have been some doubts about the fairness of elections in Jammu and Kashmir, we too should agree to have an election held by the Election Commission under the observation of the UN Commission within the framework of our Constitution. We should also allow all parties like the Hurriyat to participate in the election. Pakistan should agree to stop intrusions from its side. On its part, India should agree to reduce its forces in Jammu and Kashmir. These steps will restore the confidence among the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

 

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