January 2004 News

A Roadmap For Kashmir

29 January 2004
The Dawn
Farida Ghani Burtis

Karachi: North Carolina's former Senator, Frank P. Graham, in his capacity as the United Nations representative for Kashmir, proposed a roadmap or plan of action for Kashmir, specifying that India must reduce its troops in Kashmir to a range beween 12,000-18,000; and Pakistan to a range between 3000-6,000. Then the wishes of the Kashmiri public would be ascertained in an impartial UN-supervised plebiscite, in which each and every individual Kashmiri - as opposed to political parties, groups, or countries - would participate. This was the essence of Dr. Graham's 12-point roadmap-plan of action adopted by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 98 of December 23, 1952. The resolution mandated that India and Pakistan agree within 30 days on the demilitarization of Kashmir regarding the 'specific number' within the parameters of the troops range specified in the resolution. The actual withdrawal of troops from Kashmir was to be started simultaneously by India and Pakistan, and to be completed within 90 days. The United Nations Plebiscite Administrator for Kashmir was to take charge to conduct a plebiscite 'not later than the final day of the demilitarization period,' pursuant to Dr. Graham's roadmap (UN document S-2783, September 1952). Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, had already been appointed as the UN plebiscite administrator for Kashmir, and he was to have been formally inducted into office at the end of the demilitarization period, to conduct an impartial plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the Kashmiri people. A new plebiscite administrator, of the calibre of Admiral Nimitz, must now be appointed to ascertain the wishes of the Kashmiri people. A new Representative for Kashmir must be appointed to replace Graham. The UN Security Council resolution of December 1952 (UN document S- 2883) states that the 'Governments of India and Pakistan have accepted all but two of the paragraphs of his (Graham's) 12- point proposals.' One of these related to the exact timing of the induction of the plebiscite administrator. The other related to paragraph 7 of the roadmap: India wanted 23,000 troops, for internal security during a UN plebiscite, instead of the maximum of 18,000 specified by Dr. Graham, and United Nations Security Council. The Graham UN roadmap - which had been internationally acclaimed as the solution of Kashmir - initially stalled at this point, essentially over a nominal difference of a mere 5,000 Indian soldiers. (Then the cold war followed, with Pakistan siding with the US, and India with the Soviet camp). Graham felt that the presence of 23,000 troops friendly to India, would intimidate the voting public in a plebiscite, and as such would compromise the fairness of the plebiscite. Troops on Kashmiri soil was the main issue then, as now. Negotiations on this roadmap, backed by the United States, must be picked up from the point where such negotiations broke down. The valuable lessons of history should be relied on, and built upon - instead of re-inventing the wheel. Graham, who was also former president of the University of North Carolina, was described as having a zeal 'nothing less than missionary' for his Kashmir role, by Josef Korbel, in his book Danger in Kashmir. Korbel was father of Madeleine Korbel Albright, and had been a member of the United Nations commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). It was during Korbel's UNCIP chairmanship that UN Security Council adopted the UNCIP resolutions calling for Indian and Pakistani troops to withdraw, and for the Kashmir people to decide their future in a UN- supervised plebiscite. If the UN resolutions were invoked for Iraq, the same must apply for Kashmir. What is being projected as a January 2004 success story in South Asia, may well turn out to be well- orchestrated Machiavellian strategy - if the wishes of the Kashmiri public are not taken into account. The issue of the wishes of the Kashmiri public is of such overwhelming importance, that the 'plebeians', or common public must vote in a plebiscite. No group or political party or country can usurp this right away from the Kashmiri people. After all, thirteen million Kashmiri human beings cannot be considered a commodity, or spoils of war - to be negotiated upon by India and Pakistan. No human being should be considered as chattel, or bargaining chip. This factor is especially relevant during the tenures of the first African-American US Secretary of State and the first UN Secretary-General from sub- Saharan Africa. The writer is a Kashmir-born journalist and covers the United Nations.


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