Kashmir -a Story Half Told!

Nilesh Kunwar
August 24, 2016 OPINION 517 Views

Seeing the large turnout of protesters, the frequent display of the Pakistani flags alongwith raising pro- Pakistan slogans one gets the impression that the only thing that the people of Kashmir want is to join Pakistan. With the Chairman of pro-Pakistan Hurriyat (G) SAS Geelani saying that the only solution to the Kashmir issue is to give its people their right to self determination this perception is further fortified. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent demand that India should hold a plebiscite in Kashmir reveals that Islamabad is sanguine that the people in Kashmir would opt to join Pakistan in overwhelming numbers.
The balance thus appears to be clearly titled in Islamabad’s favour and that is why one is rather surprised why Pakistan is not advantage of the existing ‘win- win’ situation? What is preventing Islamabad from taking the required actions that would facilitate conduct of the plebiscite? As Islamabad’s status quoist attitude is baffling these simple questions should be bothering the pro-Pakistan separatist camp. The separatist leaders who keep expressing their gratitude whenever Islamabad gets into its ‘rhetoric mode’, haven’t yet picked up the courage to ask Islamabad why is it only engaging in a duel of words with New Delhi and refusing to walk its talk on Kashmir and get the plebiscite process moving!
This is where the half told story of Kashmir starts. There are many people in India who maintain that by its decision to take the Pakistan army backed ‘tribal invasion’ of Kashmir to the United Nations, New Delhi botched up its case. Similarly, there are people in Pakistan who feel that having literally got Kashmir on a platter through the UN resolutions, Pakistan lost a golden opportunity by vacillating on the issue of holding a plebiscite in J&K. Though correct, these views tell only half of the story. As far as India is concerned the other half of the story is that by taking the Kashmir issue to the UN it got the following advantages:
By calling upon Pakistan to make the ‘tribesmen’ and armed forces personnel vacate the areas of J&K under their control, the UN upheld the accession of J&K to India as legal.
India registered the Kashmir issue under Chapter VI of the UN charter and UN resolutions under this chapter don’t have any mandatory compliance clause and are non-enforceable. Therefore, no international organisation or nation can force India to implement the same!
From the above it also becomes clear that those who blame Pakistan for not going ahead with the plebiscite in Kashmir are only telling one side of the story. There is no doubt that till the early sixties Washington was taking considerable interest in resolving the Kashmir issue. But probably Pakistan knew that since it had made a monumental mistake by allowing the UN resolutions on Kashmir to be passed under chapter VI of the UN charter, it couldn’t do much to ensure implementation of these resolutions. Perhaps that is why it launched a military operation codenamed ‘Operation Gibraltar’ to get hold of Kashmir. This attempt failed and seeing Pakistan’s belligerent attitude on the Kashmir issue the UN as well as the international community gradually started avoiding getting involved in Kashmir!
Islamabad knows that it doesn’t have the diplomatic influence or the military capability to resolve the Kashmir issue. General Pervez Musharraf’s Kargil misadventure once again helped India since international pressure on Pakistan to withdraw its troops from Indian administered Kashmir (IaK) trashed Islamabad’s contention of Kashmir being a disputed territory. But despite the UN and international community terming Kashmir as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, Islamabad has never stopped talking about the UN resolutions. This again is only half of the story; the other half being that the reason for this is only to keep the separatist movement in Kashmir alive!
Today when Kashmir is in turmoil PM Nawaz Sharif has once again said that India must hold a plebiscite in Kashmir and this is again half of the story. The other half that is not being told is that Pakistan has not yet shown its willingness to vacate the areas of Kashmir under its control which is the mandatory prerequisite contained in the UN resolution for plebiscite in J&K. Islamabad has actually got entangled in its own web of half truths but it is lucky that the people of Kashmir haven’t yet seen through this as the separatists ensure that there are no debates or discussions on the content and applicability of the UN resolutions.
But Islamabad’s half told stories don’t end here. Pakistan keeps asserting that Kashmir is a disputed territory but has no answer to the question that if this is true then its act of ceding parts of Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) to China is absolutely illegal! Similarly, though it keeps demanding plebiscite, how can the people of PaK participate and freely exercise their right to self determination when they are constitutionally debarred from expressing any view that goes against “the ideology of the State’s (PaK’s)accession to Pakistan”? If Islamabad firmly believes and upholds the UN resolutions on Kashmir then why is it allowing militant groups fighting in Kashmir set up their terror infrastructure on Pakistani soil?
Kashmir’s biggest handicap is that its intellectuals and civil society stay away from discussing the Kashmir issue holistically. But this is not due to lack of concern but only because they are forced to do so; no one has forgotten how stalwarts of the right to self determination movement like Mirwaiz Maulvi Farook and Abdul Gani Lone were assassinated for just expressing their logical reservations about the role of the gun and foreign militants respectively in the Kashmir struggle. Today conditions in Kashmir have become such that the movement for right of self determination has become a motley assortment of conflicting ideologies with no place to accomodate any civil discourse.
The Hurriyat too is guilty of narrating half stories to the people of Kashmir. On the one hand it talks about peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN resolutions while on the other hand it hails the ongoing militancy in the State. The Hurriyat accuses New Delhi of concealing the truth but doesn’t feel any pang of conscience when it intentionally keeps the public in dark about the nature of the UN resolutions on Kashmir. It blames the UN and international community for lack of concern for Kashmiris but doesn’t tell the people that this is due to the Hurriyat’s myopic vision of giving militancy in Kashmir a carte blanch. It complains about excesses in IaK but has never uttered a word to express anguish over similar incidents in PaK.
The people of Kashmir need to introspect and stop living in a world of fantasy created by the separatists, militants and Islamabad. If the separatists are so sure of getting the ‘azadi’ that they so slickly talk about then why have they not inducted their own children into this movement so that they can be trained to and nurtured as the future leaders of IaK when it gets ‘azadi’? If the militant commanders are really convinced that slain militants are accepted as martyrs in ‘jannat’ (Heaven) then why are they depriving their own sons from this wonderful opportunity? If the people of PaK are really so happy and content after having ‘joined’ Pakistan then why does the ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ Interim Constitution 1974 contain the draconian clause “No person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the State’s accession to Pakistan”?
Telling half stories may fool people for sometime but not indefinitely as such tales raise too many questions but provide no answers!

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