UN resolutions that speak of Kashmir (the entire region) as disputed
and call for a plebiscite to determine its future have long been
allowed to fall by the wayside by India. Having done that, it was
only natural for New Delhi to emphasise that Kashmir’s accession
was an irreversible and complete process and the region was not
disputed. Officially, Pakistan has never accepted that formulation.
To that extent, it remains wedded to the plebiscite mechanism
contained in the resolutions, and which requires that Pakistan
concede to the world body its part of Kashmir when the time for any
such determination is ripe. Clearly, Pakistan should have no problem
with an Indian formulation that seeks to drag Azad Kashmir into the
dispute, especially if it rubbishes India’s stand on the sanctity
of the Line of Control. But there is more.
New Delhi kept referring to Azad Kashmir as “PoK,” the fact is
that, having disparaged the plebiscite mechanism it had got itself
when it took the issue to the United Nations Security Council, it
could not use that option to get Pakistan out of the area
“occupied” by the latter. The other, military option, could not
work. Therefore, India slowly moved away from that maximalist
position and willy-nilly accepted Pakistan’s “occupation”.
This Indian position crystallised further, albeit indirectly, after
the Simla Agreement, which New Delhi says has brought Kashmir
squarely into the bilateral realm. Besides, India has continued to
refer to this subsequent agreement, saying that it overrides the
earlier UN resolutions. Also, in 1972, the then CFL (ceasefire line)
was converted into the Line of Control after the two sides
delineated and demarcated it. While the Line has been changed at
places since then following small, occasional border skirmishes, the
basic Indian contention about its sanctity is on official record.
India took the same approach on the LoC during and after the Kargil
conflict to highlight Pakistan’s perfidy.
to this has been India’s contention that Pakistan is a revisionist
power, which contrasts sharply with its (India) own position as a
status quo power. This, too, is on official record and part of
numerous writings by Indians. If India now chooses to bring into
dispute Azad Kashmir, it will be rubbishing its own neatly
constructed categories on the issue. Further, it will, as a
necessary corollary of that approach, have to refer to the UN
mechanism to stake a claim to the area now under Pakistani
the event, New Delhi will also have to accept, categorically,
Pakistan’s locus standi as a party to the dispute. Again, this
would be a departure from its policy of subtly trying, over the last
few years but more so since Kargil, to make Pakistan irrelevant by
emphasising “cross-border terrorism” — to move the issue away
from the right of self-determination — while attempting to handle
Kashmir through the internal track. The latter was, and is, meant to
not only present Kashmir as an internal issue but also to deny
Pakistan any negotiating space while conceding to talk about the
issue in terms of Pakistan’s alleged support to the insurgency.
were India to now rake up the Kashmir issue in its entirety, the
carefully constructed edifice of its diplomacy will come crumbling
down like a house of cards. In the event, Pakistan should have no
problem with this new Indian formulation.
writer is news editor of the Friday Times and foreign
editor of the Daily Times — courtesy of which this
article appears here.