Dr. Fai Urges US-sponsored Talks On Kashmir

Islamabad, June 02 : The Secretary General of World Kashmir Awareness, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai has urged the United States to shape up its policy towards Kashmir by the principles of just and durable peace, and not by the relative strategic significance of India or Pakistan to the United States.

Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai said this in a paper presented during the two-day International Kashmir Seminar in Islamabad. The  Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST) arranged the seminar at Jinnah Convention Center . He hoped that the United States would not ignore the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and bypass the expression of those sentiments.

Full text of the paper is as follows;

At the outset, I would like to express my deep appreciation to Professor (Dr.) Habib-ur-Rehman, Vice Chancellor, MUST, for supporting the principle cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I am extremely delighted to express my views on the important subject, “Role of international community in resolving the Kashmir Dispute.”

The Kashmir question is one of the oldest unresolved international problems in the world. The people of this territory which is not part of any existing sovereign state were assured by the entire international community represented by the United Nations that they would be given the right of self-determination to decide their future by a free vote. Until now, this assurance has not been honored.

The self-determination of peoples is a basic principle of the United Nation Charter which has been reaffirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and applied countless times to the settlement of many international disputes. The applicability of the principle to the specific case of Jammu and Kashmir has been explicitly recognized by the United Nations. It was upheld equally by India and Pakistan when the Kashmir dispute was brought before the Security Council in 1948. Since, on the establishment of India and Pakistan as sovereign states, Jammu and Kashmir was not part of the territory of either, the two countries entered into an agreement to allow its people to exercise their right of self-determination under impartial auspices and in conditions free from coercion from either side.

These are not resolutions in the routine sense of the term. Their provisions were negotiated in detail by the United Nations with India and Pakistan and it was only after the consent of both governments was explicitly obtained that they were endorsed by the Security Council. They thus constitute a binding and solemn international agreement about the settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

There was much in these resolutions that was controversial between India and Pakistan, but the proposal of a plebiscite was not. This is clear from the statement made by Amb. F. Van Langenhove of Belgium as the President of the Security Council on January 23, 1948, “Both parties [India & Pakistan] have admitted the principle that the future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir should be decided by plebiscite.”

Here are few more pertinent points to clarify my submission regarding plebiscite.

Sir Gladwyn Jebb, British Ambassador to the United Nations said on November 6, 1952, “The parties have agreed – and they have many times reaffirmed their agreement – to decide the future accession of the State by means of a free and impartial plebiscite to be held under the auspices of the United Nations. And I repeat that: under the auspices of the United Nations.”

Ambassador Arce of Argentina spoke on February 4, 1948 that the delegation of Argentina will not be able to vote in favour of any draft resolution which does not leave the solution of the problem to be decided by a plebiscite, freely prepared, feely conducted and freely scrutinized under the authority of the Security Council.

Ambassador Araujo of Colombia said on November 18th 1957 that, “The draft resolution before us in no way, not even by a single line, changes the final goal which the Security Council has sought since 1948, with the express consent of the parties concerned, namely, that a solution to this problem should be found by means of a free and impartial plebiscite in which the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir would determine their legal status.”

Ambassador Quevedo of Ecuador said on March 30th 1951 that, …in as much as India and Pakistan have agreed that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir should be decided by a free and impartial plebiscite, that must be our point of departure and the legal and political basis for the settlement.

The American position on plebiscite was also bipartisan and maintained equally by Republicans and Democrats. It is also apparent from following facts:
When the Kashmir dispute erupted in 1947-1948, the United States championed the stand that the future status of Kashmir must be ascertained in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of the territory. The U.S. was a principal sponsor of the resolution which was adopted by the Security Council on 21 April 1948 and which was based on that unchallenged principle.

United States, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (Republican) stated on 5 February 1957: “We continue to believe that unless the parties are able to agree upon some other solution, the solution which was recommended by the Security Council should prevail, which is that there should be a plebiscite.”

On 15 June 1962, the American representative to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, (Democrat) stated that: ” … The best approach is to take for a point of departure the area of common ground which exists between the parties. I refer of course to the resolutions which were accepted by both parties and which in essence provide for demilitarization of the territory and a plebiscite whereby the population may freely decide the future status of Jammu and Kashmir..”

As President Obama rightly observed on October 30, 2008, the key role the United States can play in resolving the Kashmir issue was to facilitate better understanding between Pakistan and India. Resolving the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan will very likely address the root cause of the arms race between India and Pakistan. Then again President Obama said on November 8, 2010 in New Delhi that the resolution of Kashmir is in the interests of the two countries involved, and it’s in the interests of the United States of America.

Similarly in Britain, both Labor and Conservative governments consistently upheld the position that a plebiscite was the only way the dispute over Kashmir could be democratically and peacefully settled.
What prevented the plebiscite’s holding was India’s refusal to accept any proposals that called for her to withdraw the bulk of her forces from Kashmir and thus conclude a truce leading to the induction of a Plebiscite Administrator. Since the plebiscite could not be impartial unless both India and Pakistan withdrew their forces from Kashmir, a stalemate ensured. This stalemate has now lasted for more than sixty-nine years.

With all these factors in mind, what should be considered the essential guiding principles of the negotiating process to settle the Kashmir dispute?

First, the element that has been missing in efforts toward a settlement is the political representation of Kashmiris. There is no way to provide this on a principled basis except by a referendum in Kashmir under impartial control and supervision. No drastic overhaul of the existing administrative machinery will be required to initiate this phase. But the removal of the military and paramilitary troops from towns and villages and freedom of movement of State subjects between the two parts of Jammu & Kashmir will be pre-requisite for a free and fair plebiscite.

Second, both India and Pakistan should recognize that there cannot be a military solution of the problem; any such solution is bound to invite challenge. This should exclude consideration of the Line of Control as a prospective boundary between the two countries. For Kashmiris, the Line of Control is only the glorified name given to a cease-fire line between two armed forces fixed purely on a military basis on a certain date. Its legitimacy has nothing to do with the life of the people on either side except to disrupt it. It has existed as the Line of Conflict and its perpetuation would mean not the solution but the perpetuation of the dispute.

Third, the mantra has been repeated too often that the U.S. has no alternative to relying on bilateral talks between India and Pakistan to achieve a settlement. The experience of past sixty-nine years is ignored. The bilateral talks between India and Pakistan have always failed. So the time has come that talks must be tripartite between all parties concerned — India, Pakistan, and the people of Kashmir. The people of Kashmir should be an integral component of the ongoing peace process as they are the primary stakeholders.

Fourth, the urgent goal to explore various options for the settlement cannot be left to the two governments of India and Pakistan alone. It requires the engagement of a multilateral effort on American initiative jointly with one or two other permanent members of the Security Council and some Asian and Muslim states. If the U.S. does not deem it prudent to get directly involved, there is no reason why the Security Council of the United Nations or, with the Council’s support, the Secretary General should not be urged to play a real facilitating role.

Fifth, alternatively, there should be a third party facilitation to make sure that the talks between India and Pakistan remain focused. Third party facilitator could be a person of an international standing, like Nobel Laureates, Kofi Annan or Bishop Desmond Tutu. We believe that an appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir will go a long way to hasten the process of peace and stability in the region of South Asia.

Sixth, there cannot be and should not be any condition from any party, other than commitment to non-violence and to negotiations.

Final word: We have faith that the United States policy towards Kashmir will be shaped not by the relative strategic value to the U.S. of India or Pakistan but by the principles of a just and durable peace. We also hope that the United States will not ignore the wishes of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and bypass the expression of those sentiments.

We trust that President Obama during the final year of his presidency will bring its influence to bear on both India and Pakistan to initiate a peace process with witch the United Nations as well as the people of Jammu and Kashmir will be associated so as to ensure that settlement arrived at will be based on the principle of justice.

Kashmir Media Service

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