Plebiscite for the whole Kashmir not only Valley

By Shabir Choudhry

I was surprised to read the statement of Mr Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Daily News, London, 23 April 1998, that "India has been denying the Kashmiris their right of self determination and thereby violating the UN resolutions that called for plebiscite in the Valley".

I want to ask the Prime Minister which UN resolution asked India to have a plebiscite in the Valley. The resolution (13 August 1948) which asked India (and Pakistan) to hold a plebiscite was not limited to the Valley of Kashmir. It applied to the all the area of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and which includes the areas currently under Pakistani control. And if we were to get that resolution implemented Pakistan would have to vacate all the areas under her direct and indirect control, which includes areas of Gilgit and Baltistan.

Hitherto the UN has not passed any resolution which asks India to hold plebiscite in the Valley, and forget about the areas under the Pakistani control. So there is no change in the position as far as the UN resolution is concerned; and if anything has changed it is the Pakistani policy. Pakistan is, now, merely interested in the Valley of Kashmir, and it appears that plans are being made to divide the State permanently. This is why Pakistan no longer talks about the future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

It is true that the UN resolutions have failed to provide a solution to the Kashmir dispute, but it does not mean that the State should be divided between India and Pakistan. The Kashmiri people must have the final say to determine the future of Kashmir, and the best way forward is that both India and Pakistan withdraw their forces from the State and hand it over to the UN Trusty ship for the period of five years. After the lapse of five years the people of Kashmir decide what is best for them.

Shabir Choudhry
Director, Institute of Kashmir Affairs

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