Kash­mir con­flict and Bri­tish cul­pa­bil­ity

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - K. Iqbal

BRI­TISH For­eign Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond was ob­vi­ously de­tached from re­al­ity when he sug­gested, on March 08, that the is­sue of Jammu and Kash­mir should not be a pre­con­di­tion for re­sump­tion of In­di­aPak­istan di­a­logue and em­pha­sised the need for re­open­ing of di­a­logue be­tween the two coun­tries. He re­stated the ob­vi­ous that an In­dia-Pak­istan di­a­logue is es­sen­tial for long-term eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, peace and se­cu­rity in the re­gion. A prompt com­ment came from the All Par­ties Hur­riyat Con­fer­ence leader from In­dian Oc­cu­pied Kash­mir (IOK), Syed Ali Gee­lani. He termed the state­ment of Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary as in­ap­pro­pri­ate and added: "Bri­tish govern­ment played a key role in cre­at­ing Kash­mir is­sue".

Though ad­vice for recom­mence­ment of di­a­logue is a saner one and is re­flec­tive of the de­sire of the UK to see peace and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion, the sug­gested pa­ram­e­ters are faulty. The pro­posal that Kash­mir should not be a pre-con­di­tion for re­sump­tion of Pak­istan-In­dia di­a­logue, that too from the Bri­tish for­eign min­is­ter, was dis­ap­point­ing.

Any his­toric scru­tiny into ori­gin of Kash­mir con­flict leads to cul­pa­bil­ity of the Bri­tish Crown rep­re­sen­ta­tives in In­dia. Who would know bet­ter than Ham­mond that Kash­mir dis­pute was will­fully en­gi­neered through machi­na­tions of the last Viceroy Lord Mount­bat­ten, who su­per­vised the "Great Di­vide". On the pre­text of fake and fab­ri­cated ac­ces­sion let­ter from Ma­haraja of Kash­mir, the Viceroy au­tho­rised air­lift of In­dian troops to mer­ci­lessly sup­press the pop­u­lar up­ris- ing against the In­dian in­tent to an­nex Kash­mir by arm-twist­ing the Ma­haraja.

In the same con­text, ear­lier the Chair­man of Bound­ary Com­mis­sion Cyril Rad­cliff was pres­sured by the Viceroy and bribed by Nehru to al­ter the bound­ary award and give Mus­lim ma­jor­ity district of Gur­daspur to In­dia be­cause the only land con­nec­tion be­tween In­dia and Kash­mir passed through this town. The con­spir­acy was well or­ches­trated un­der the tute­lage of the Viceroy, who was dy­ing for be­com­ing the joint Gov­er­nor Gen­eral of Pak­istan and In­dia. Af­ter Pak­istan's re­fusal to ac­cept him in that ca­pac­ity, he crossed over to In­dian in­ter­est.

De­spite a ruth­less and dis­pro­por­tion­ate use of force, In­dian failed to sub­due pro-Pak­istan sen­ti­ment in Kash­mir. See­ing the im­pend­ing takeover of Kash­mir by the street power, In­dia took the mat­ter to the UN. The Se­cu­rity Coun­cil passed the reso- lu­tion, in Jan­uary 1948, that the de­ci­sion about Kash­mir's join­ing Pak­istan or In­dia shall be based on the out­come of a UN su­per­vised plebiscite; In­dia ac­cepted the res­o­lu­tion and agreed to com­ply with its pro­vi­sions. Since then, the UNSC has passed over a dozen res­o­lu­tion in pur­suance to set­tle­ment of the dis­pute but In­dia has been on the run; last such res­o­lu­tion was passed in June 1998.

Philip Ham­mond's coun­try has en­dorsed all th­ese res­o­lu­tions. It would have been more pru­dent for him to ad­vice both In­dia and Pak­istan to take steps to im­ple­ment th­ese UN res­o­lu­tions; he could have gone a step fur­ther by of­fer­ing to be­come an hon­est bro­ker for ar­bi­tra­tion.

This would have, at least re­deemed the em­pire's tar­nished im­age in the con­text of mis­man­ag­ing the nut and bolts of Par­ti­tion of In­dia Plan. Kash­mir is the root cause of all prob­lems be­tween Pak­istan and In­dia and ev­ery­one knows that the two coun­tries have fought four wars on the dis­pute. Grav­ity of the mat­ter is all too well known to the stu­dents of in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity who ac­knowl­edge it as nu­clear flash­point.

For the first time Kash­mir is­sue was in­clude in the joint state­ment of re­cently con­cluded sixth round of Pak­istan-US Strate­gic Di­a­logue. The ex­act word­ing of the US-Pak­istan joint state­ment re­gard­ing Kash­mir reads: "The United States and Pak­istan em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of mean­ing­ful di­a­logue in sup­port of a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of out­stand­ing is­sues, in­clud­ing Kash­mir".

The new shift in US pol­icy in­creases the heat on In­dia. Pak­istan's For­eign of­fice has wel­comed the recog­ni­tion by the US that Kash­mir was a dis­pute; said, Pak­istan would con­tinue to ex­tend moral, political and diplo­matic sup­port to the Kash­miris till the im­ple­men­ta­tion of UN res­o­lu­tions.

There is grow­ing re­al­i­sa­tion that gen­uine peace and sta­bil­ity in South Asia would re­main elu­sive with­out mean­ing­fully ad­dress­ing this core is­sue as per as­pi­ra­tions of the Kash­miri peo­ple. While In­dia is con­tent with pur­su­ing a flawed pol­icy of con­tain­ment through de­mean­ing the peo­ple of Kash­mir-with im­punity, Pak­istan is seek­ing a so­lu­tion based on the prin­ci­ples of democ­racy by let­ting the peo­ple of Kash­mir de­cide their des­tiny through free and fair polls. Prin­ci­ple of the right of self-de­ter­mi­na­tion is a uni­ver­sally ac­cepted right, and peo­ple of Kash­mir seek noth­ing be­yond that.

Philip should also have been mind­ful of abysmal Hu­man Rights Sit­u­a­tion in the IOK, which lodges nearly a mil­lion­strong oc­cu­pa­tion troops and is sar­cas­ti­cally dubbed as most densely mil­i­ta­rized con­flict zone of the world.

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