The historic Kashmir dispute is an extremely complex problem; policy recommendations and their subsequent implementation might take a considerable period of time to reap constructive results and there is no end in sight to the ongoing human rights violations of the Kashmiri people.
UN Security Council Resolution 47 (1948) recommended three steps to resolve the Kashmir problem, i.e. (i) Pakistan had to withdraw its nationals that entered Kashmir to fight, (ii) India had to progressively reduce its military forces to the minimum level required for law and order, and (iii) India had to appoint a plebiscite administrator nominated by the United Nations who would conduct a free and impartial plebiscite. Pakistan adhered to its part of the bargain but India has consistently refused to live up to the obligations it agreed to and it has instead created a grave human rights tragedy by its violent and merciless actions against Kashmiri civilians. Article 1(1) of the UN Charter is very clear that the purpose of the UN is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.” Significantly, by virtue of resolution 47 (1948), as the mightiest nation in the world, the USA was given a key role to play by the president of the Security Council, Mahmoud Fawzi Bey of Egypt.
Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the White House for his long-awaited meeting with President Donald Trump on Monday, 22 July 2019. The meeting was of immense importance, precisely because it was Imran Khan’s “first one-on-one meeting with US President Donald Trump.” Hence, it was an incredible opportunity to renew diplomatic ties. Even though, the meeting was quite an important development in international politics, nevertheless, it might be worthwhile to look into the contemporary relevance of the meeting, especially with regard to the recent events in Kashmir. Perhaps one of the integral issues discussed during the meeting was that of Kashmir. During the meeting, President Trump offered “to mediate the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan.” He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him if he (President Trump) could be an arbitrator in the Kashmir issue.
The Indian government later refused to accept that any such requests were forwarded by Prime Minister Modi and reiterated that “it would not accept any third-party mediation on its disputes with Pakistan.” Putting aside the validity of these claims, if there has to be any sort of intervention, mediation or arbitration over the Kashmir issue, it should be right now given the intensity of atrocities and acts of brutality being carried out by India.
“The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed that on the night of July 30 and 31, Indian army targeted civilian population in the Neelum Valley through artillery using cluster ammunition.” India’s justification for the breach was that it was responding to Pakistan’s intrusion. This allegation was immediately dismissed by Pakistan and was classified as India’s tactic to distract the international community from its abhorrent acts. India’s use of cluster bombs that “are believed to be deadlier than landmines” and whose “use, production, stockpiling and transfer” have been prohibited under the “2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions”, was an absolute violation of international law. There were multiple casualties along the Line of Control (LoC), and it is heartbreaking to see that innocent civilians and children were their primary victims.
The National Security Committee (NSC) condemned India’s use of cluster bombs and the simultaneous military buildup of troops in the region. Like many, Pakistan is also concerned about the negative repercussions of such blatant cruelties, as well as, the undermining impact they could have on “regional and international peace”. Hence, Pakistan is determined to take all possible measures to halt India’s hostilities in the region, and reaffirmed “diplomatic, moral, and political support to Kashmiri struggle.”
On August 4-5, all phone lines and internet access were suspended in the valley of Kashmir. Many Kashmiri separatists were captured and political party leaders were put under house arrest. This was accompanied by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to repeal the provisions of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir that granted the region its special constitutional status, and to bifurcate “the state into two union territories to be directly ruled by New Delhi.” One could have anticipated this development given that “Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party promised to do away with special rights from Kashmiris under India’s constitution.” Article 370 has also been a major source of concern for many Indian political leaders since independence.
One could list innumerable motives behind India’s actions in the region; these would include “an attempt to malign and discredit the Kashmiri movement for the right to self-determination, conceal the intended change in demography through revocation of Article 35-A, an expression of frustration at the human rights abuses getting global attention, the unease at the global momentum in the efforts for a political settlement of the Afghan dispute, and trapping Pakistan in an escalation spiral.” Regardless of what India’s list of motives were behind such acts, it is important to understand that its actions along the LoC and in the region are absolutely unacceptable. Not only did India’s use of cluster bombs cause multiple casualties, its act of deploying additional troops, capturing and arresting people led to spread of terror and panic in the region. Its attempt to deliver false information caused more agitation and worry regionally and internationally. Furthermore, its decision to revoke Article 370 and Article 35A was purely unconstitutional.
The Afghan peace process was another matter of immense importance that was looked into during the meeting, and could be linked to the recent atrocities in Kashmir. One could speculate that the recent events in Kashmir could also be attributed to “Indian apprehensions about developments in the Afghan peace process” and “two offers of mediation on the Kashmir dispute made by US President Donald Trump in less than a fortnight.” The spread of violence and bloodshed in Kashmir could be India’s attempt to halt any possible means of progress in the Afghan peace process. India might be under the impression that an improved relationship between Pakistan and the United States, and the subsequent combined effort of the two to bring an end to the Afghan conflict might ultimately affect India’s position in the country.
In light of the recent events in Kashmir, India could be seen as transgressing against international laws, and disrupting regional and international peace under the cloak of several unsatisfactory justifications.
It is very surprising to see how any state could support India for disregarding “the widely accepted international ban” and for committing “massive human rights abuses.”
Without doubt, there is no straightforward solution to the Kashmir problem.
Nevertheless, at this point, “the world leaders and international bodies” should come together to look into the matter, negotiate, and outline all the possible remedies that could prevent the region from any further damage.