UN appointed observers must quit Kashmir

The mansion of UNMOGIP in Srinagar.

India at the UN Security Council
In 1948, India approached the UN Security Council with the request that Pakistan has armed and abetted an attack on the State of Jammu and Kashmir with the motive of annexing it. The State formally acceded to the Indian Union on 26 October 1947. The Security Council’s mandate is that an illegal occupation of the territories of another country will be vacated and towards that end, the UN will provide the necessary support to the aggrieved party to recover its lands.

India approached the Security Council on 1st January 1948 requesting that the State of Jammu and Kashmir, a part of the Indian Union by virtue of the ruler signing the Instrument of Accession, has been attacked by the gunmen armed and abetted by Pakistan, should be vacated.

To the great shock of Nehru and the Indian nation, the Security Council blatantly favoured Pakistan and made her a party to the dispute instead of declaring her an aggressor.

Politicizing the issue
The reason why the Anglo-American bloc gave outright support to Pakistan was that Pakistan had aligned with the capitalist bloc and India was close to the Soviet bloc. The capitalist bloc wanted a foothold in the sub-continent to disallow the Soviet Union to expand southwards to reach the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The Soviet expansion theory was a figment of the imagination of the capitalist bloc.  

The UN Security Council deliberately politicized the Kashmir issue and made a mess of the whole thing by equating the aggrieved with the aggressor. In 1948 and 1949 two consecutive resolutions were passed by the Security Council. The most important clause of the resolution was that Pakistan will withdraw all its fighting forces from the territory of the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir; India will reduce  the number of her combat forces and leave behind only such numbers as would be required to maintain law and order to run the administration smoothly. Once that was done, the Security Council would appoint a Plebiscite Administrator to conduct a plebiscite in the state to ascertain to which dominion the people of the State would like to accede.

Since the ceasefire had been announced on midnight of 31 December 1948, the Security Council decided to appoint an observers’ group to monitor that the ceasefire was not violated along the Line of Control (LOC) in J&K. It was called United Nation’s Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan or (UNMOGIP). The UN Security Council appointed the group mostly from the European member countries.

Abuse of office
Hindsight shows that this group, instead of honestly monitoring the situation on the ground, indulged in clandestine activities like spying on Indian troops and their movement etc. The truth is that the Indian government, already having burnt its fingers, was reluctant to accept the group. It was thrust on her. Even a Plebiscite Administrator viz, Admiral Nimitz, was also nominated by the capitalist group without the clauses of the Resolutions of Security Council having been fulfilled. However, India put its foot down and refused to accept the nominated Plebiscite Administrator on technical grounds.

Notwithstanding the unwillingness of the vast political leadership in India including those from the ruling class, the Government of India provided all facilities as were admissible under the protocol to the Observes Group. They had the freedom of crossing the LoC without obstruction. They lived a luxurious life with all facilities provided by the Indian government. More often than not they submitted false and fabricated reports to the Secretary-General castigating the Indian army for violating the ceasefire and other things.

The headquarters of the observers’ group became a hotbed of intrigues particularly when the armed insurgency broke out in J&K in 1990. The insurgent groups and their sympathizers among the majority population made it their practice to gather huge crowds of slogan chanters and bring them to the headquarters of the UN Observers, hand over petitions and fabricated reports of atrocities on the civilian population by the security forces. These false and fabricated reports were forwarded to the UN Security Council which found material to malign India.

Several times India lodged complaints with the Observers Group with the Security Council averring that the group had no business to respond to the petitions and protests of the civilian population of Kashmir and that they should restrict themselves to the mandate given by the UNSC.

As a result of India’s persistent complaints and also the group indulging in unwanted and unsolicited activities, the number of observers was reduced and only a small number were left behind.

There are reports that the External Affairs Ministry of the Government of India is proposing to ask the observer’s manpower to quit India. There is justification for that.

Firstly, the Kashmir question as was propped up by the security council is almost dead. It is dead because Pakistan has abused the plebiscite resolution since it has not withdrawn its fighting forces from Kashmir and has not vacated the part of J&K illegally occupied by it.

Secondly, Pakistan handed over more than 5,000 sq km of J&K State territory to China in 1963 which is an illegal act. The Security Couincil Resolution of 1949 states that no change will be made in the geography of J&K. Hence the Resolutions of the UNSC are null and void because the Security Council has not taken any action against the defaulter.

Thirdly the Kashmir issue is dead as far as the UNSC is concerned because under the various clauses of the UN Charter if two warring states enter into a negotiated bilateral deal, the UNSC loses the right to dispense with the dispute. This was categorically stated by Kofi Anan, the then Secretary General of the UN, when he was on an official visit to Pakistan. India and Pakistan have signed the Shimla Agreement in which they have committed to resolve the Kashmir issue bilaterally and through negotiations. This dispenses with the role of the UNSC and also the UN Observers in J&K.

Fourthly, although India is not obliged to undertake a plebiscite in J&K in the light of Pakistan having trampled the resolution of 1948 and 1949 under foot, even then India brought democratic dispensation to the people of J&K. Ever since the independence of India in 1947, no fewer than eight elections to the legislative assembly and as many elections to the parliament have been conducted in J&K. Most of these elections were witnessed by correspondents and observers from different countries and organizations like the European Union and the British Parliament. Therefore, as democracy has stabilized in J&K, and the Kashmir issue is dead for the UN, there is no logic or justification in asking the UNMOGIP to continue to be in the state with no assignment to complete or mandate to adhere to.

Pak’s abortive resolution
The tailpiece bought to this narrative is most interesting. In February 1994, Pakistan, incited by the capitalist bloc at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, brought a resolution against India highlighting the so-called violations of human rights in J&K. Pakistan, prompted by western godfathers, managed to rope in the OIC countries and left no stone unturned to pillory India. The situation was critical and the western bloc was happy that India would receive a thrashing.

But salutes to the then Prime Minister late PV Narasimha Rao, who played his cards like a veteran politician. He met the challenge on two fronts. One was that he brought a resolution in the parliament in which the government said that PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan are the territories of the Indian Union and Pakistan has forcibly and illegally occupied them since October 1947. India resolves that it has the will and strength to retake the part of its territory. This resolution has immensely impacted India’s Kashmir policy. The Reorganization Act of 2019 is the by-product of the same Resolution.

The second masterstroke played by PM Narasimha Rao was to send post haste a very important emissary (name will not be disclosed) to Iran to apprise the government of Iran about the truth of the Kashmir dispute. The emissary succeeded in his mission and just one hour before the debate on the draft resolution would begin, Iran declared its withdrawal from supporting the resolution. With Iran taking the decision, the OIC members fell one by one indicating to the chairman of the session that they were withdrawing their support to the resolution. In this way, India overcame a difficult situation, thanks to the late Narasimha Rao.

Pakistan’s effort of defaming India in the comity of nations has been defeated by the unilateral decisions about the governance of the J&K. Under that logic, India is perfectly right in demanding that the Observation Group winds up in Kashmir, and the sooner the better.

Time to act
There is another aspect to the issue. Everybody knows that owing to the political, economic and social failure of Pakistan, that state is on the verge of dismemberment. For many years in the past and more particularly during the last six months, there have been massive anti-Pakistan protests in PoJK and Pak-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan demanding that India take back POJK and POGB as it is legally her territory and they want liberation from the tyrannical and discriminatory rule of Islamabad. They are raising Indian flags and encomiums for Prime Minister Modi.

We will recall that during all these decades of the Kashmir dispute, Pakistan has been invoking international law for extending “moral, political and diplomatic” support to Kashmiris. India should also shed all inhibitions and come out openly in support of the freedom of oppressed people of POJK, Pak-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan (POGB) and Balochistan from the stranglehold of the Punjabi bureaucracy and Pakistan Army.

It may be said in passing that the Narendra Modi government has been repeatedly saying that it has the agenda of implementing the Parliaments’ unanimous resolution of 22 February 1994 and it is looking for an opportunity to take back the territory usurped by Pakistan. The army commanders have said that they are ready to march to Muzaffarabad, once instructions come from the Defence Ministry. We hope that the government of India will not waste more time because this is the perfect time for action.

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