Why Pakistan’s objections on Art 370 abrogation went unheard ?

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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting of the National Security Committee in Islamabad. (Photo: PTI)
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting of the National Security Committee in Islamabad. (Photo: PTI)

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
― Abraham Lincoln

The puerile manner in which Islamabad has responded to the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution clearly indicates that it’s been finally ‘checkmated’ by New Delhi on the Kashmir issue. Whereas Pakistan Prime Minister [PM] Imran Khan may be of the view that this action is “illegal” as it “violates” UNSC resolutions, but his perceptions are unfortunately completely removed from reality–a fact validated by Islamabad’s abysmal failure to seek revocation of Article 370 despite trying every conceivable trick in the book and much more!

Khan’s desperation is evident from the fact that instead of substantiating his allegations with legally tenable arguments, he chose to level insinuations that sounded more like the tongue in cheek lines from BBC’s famous comedy show, ‘Yes, Prime Minister’. Some examples he wants the world to believe that by scrapping Article 370, New Delhi has:

  • “Gone against [India’s] Constitution, they have gone against a verdict of their Supreme Court as well as against that of Jammu and Kashmir [J&K] High Court.”
  • “Gone against 17 UN Security Council resolutions [UNSC],” as well as “UN General Assembly [UNGA] resolution.”
  • “Gone against Shimla Agreement.”

A few questions to PM Khan:

  • How does the decision to abrogate Article 370 taken by the democratically elected government of India violate India’s Constitution?
  • Which verdict of India’s Supreme and J&K High Court been violated by the decision to abrogate Article 370?
  • If this decision has indeed violated UNSC and UNGA resolutions, then why hasn’t the UN asked New Delhi to restore status quo ante on this issue?
  • Which clause in the Shimla Agreement debars New Delhi from amending the Indian Constitution?

One doesn’t have to be a ‘legal eagle’ or constitutional expert to figure out that every government has the right to amend the country’s constitution by following the stipulated procedures. So, will Pakistan’s PM explain as to how does abrogation of Article 370 by New Delhi become a “unilateral” issue? Secondly, since inclusion of Article 370 in India’s Constitution was the independent decision of Indian government and had nothing whatsoever to do with UN, to insinuate that its abrogation violates UNSC and UNGA resolutions is downright hilarious! Lastly, since amending the country’s Constitution is an internal matter, how does Article 370 abrogation violate the Shimla Agreement?

Khan has also alleged that by abrogating Article 370 “They [GoI] want to change the demography,” and that “Changing the demography of a region is against Geneva Convention. This is considered war crime. They have violated Indian and international laws to impose their ideology.” To enable people to comprehend what he means, Khan needs to provide credible evidence to substantiate his ‘demographic change’ charge. In addition, he needs to explain that if Article 370 abrogation is not only a violation of Geneva Conventions, but also a war crime, then why hasn’t Islamabad filed a case against New Delhi in the International Court of Justice [ICJ]? Since he has declared himself to be the “ambassador of Kashmir,” why isn’t he taking legal recourse to undo what he feels is New Delhi’s gross injustice to the people of Kashmir?

The fact of the matter is that Imran Khan is both upset and embarrassed since his never ending rhetoric on Article 370 abrogation being some earth-shattering diabolical occurrence that deserved immediate reversal hasn’t found any worthwhile support from the international community. However, no one but Khan himself is to blame for ending up with egg on his face, because he obdurately refused to see the writing on the wall by disregarding clear indications that Pakistan’s claims lacked merit. Some examples:

  • Just a few days after Article 370 abrogation, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric stated that while the UN Secretary General was closely monitoring the situation “with concern and makes an appeal for maximum restraint,” he simultaneously “recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Shimla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” Wasn’t this a clear hint that the UN had no intention of intervening in the Article 370 abrogation issue?
  • After Article 370 abrogation, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi wrote a letter to UN Secretary General seeking UN intervention on this issue. Pakistan’s then envoy to UN, Maleeha Lodhi met UN Secretary General’s ‘Chef de Cabinet’ Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti as well Polish Ambassador Joanna Wronecka, [who was serving as President of UNSC for the month of August] and requested UN’s indulgence on this issue. However, when asked about Qureshi’s letter, Wronecka’s curt reply was “No comments”- could there be a more direct indication the UN found no merit in Pakistan FM’s request for UN intervention?   

Khan and Qureshi claim having a very strong case but have been let down by the international community. However, both knew all along, that emptions apart, Islamabad’s anti-Article 370 abrogation blitzkrieg, while “full of sound and fury,” is devoid of any substance. Why else would Khan on his return from the 2019 UNGA meet make the pessimistic remark that “Pakistan will stand by Kashmiris even if the world doesn’t”? Similarly, if Qureshi was so confident that Pakistan’s demand for revocation of the Article 370 abrogation decision had merit, then why did he forewarn his countrymen that “You [people] should not live-in [a] fool’s paradise” because “Nobody will be standing there [at UNSC] with garlands in hands”? So, who are these two fooling?

One positive fallout of Article 370 abrogation is that the people of Kashmir have realised three very important things. One, that instead of serving the people of J&K as was being claimed by those with vested interests who were benefiting from its convoluted provisions, Article 370, in actuality, was discriminatory towards women and minorities. In addition, since directions of Supreme Court weren’t valid in J&K due to this provision, it impeded progress as the benefits of several public welfare initiatives like right to information and education weren’t available to the people of J&K.

Two, abrogation of Article 370 has fully exposed how Pakistan’s Kashmir narrative has been built on a bundle of lies and once again indisputably established that J&K is an integral part of India. Lastly, everyone knows that the Kashmir issue can only be resolved through Indo-Pak dialogue and so, Islamabad’s refusal to engage with New Delhi unless Article 370 abrogation is revoked is a clear giveaway that Islamabad is more concerned about refurbishing its tarnished image rather than seeking speedy resolution of the Kashmir issue.

Tailpiece: In 2019, Khan lowered his own standing within the international community by misusing the UN General Assembly’s podium to instigate the people of Kashmir through provocative and fallacious innuendoes. He talked about people of J&K being “caged like animals in homes” and even went on to make an extremely suggestive allusion by saying,“but what will happen when 8 million Kashmiris come out of a lockdown [lifting of precautionary curbs, imposed consequent to Article 370 abrogation] …? I fear there will be a bloodbath.” That Khan’s much hyped and toxic prognosis about “a bloodbath” in post-Article 370 J&K hasn’t come to pass is an explicit indication that disillusionment of Kashmiris with Islamabad’s duplicity on Kashmir is near complete!

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