The United Nations cannot be neutral on Kashmir

The United Nations cannot be neutral on Kashmir


Yet again, India has ridden roughshod over international law and UN resolutions by unilaterally changing the status of Indian-administered  Kashmir from 'occupation' to annexation, while the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) government in Delhi has conveyed to the world that there is nothing more sacred to it, than making India a 'Hindutva state'.
As expected, the Modi government, in violation of the country’s constitution and the ruling given by the Supreme Court of India last year, repealed Articles 370 and 35-A, abolishing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, bifurcating it into two union territories and opening it up to drastic demographic changes with far-reaching implications.
            Since January 1948, when India took the matter of Kashmir to the UN, the latter adopted several resolutions with both Pakistan and India onboard. The main thrust of these resolutions was that a plebiscite would be held in the disputed princely state of Jammu and Kashmir to determine which of the two countries Kashmiris wanted to join. 
The then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, is on record committing to Kashmiris on several occasions that they would not be kept with India by force, and that they would be allowed to exercise their right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Indian commitment was a masquerade, to put it mildly.
Subsequently, India started contending that since Pakistan did not withdraw its troops from its part of Kashmir as required under the UN resolution of August 1948, India was no longer under an obligation to hold a plebiscite. India conveniently set aside the UNSC resolution 98 of December 1952, which allowed both India and Pakistan to retain certain numbers of troop on both sides of Kashmir.Even Articles 370 and 35-A which India has now revoked, did not fulfil relevant UN resolutions. Not only had Delhi gradually eroded the special status of Jammu and Kashmir but had also killed thousands of Kashmiris in the last few decades. India’s brazen human rights violations are well documented by international human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

India will no doubt, refuse to accept the resolution. But it is up to the international community now, to convey to India loud and clear that it cannot look the other way when the lives of nearly 15 million Kashmiris are at risk.

Abdul Basit

 Last year, the UN Human Rights Commissioner outlined in a detailed report India’s grisly human rights violations. True to form, India refused to allow a UN delegation to visit Jammu and Kashmir for further investigation. The world’s  so-called biggest democracy demonstrated time and again that its democracy was a sham.
The Indian opposition led by the Indian National Congress is no doubt raising cogent questions about unilaterally repealing the Kashmir-related constitutional provisions. However, Congress is also culpable for denying Kashmiris their inalienable fundamental rights. They are also guilty of imposing draconian laws in Indian-administered Kashmir, including the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Had Prime Minister Nehru abided by his commitment, South Asia today would have been a far better place thriving in peace and prosperity.
Following India’s blatant move, Indian administered Kashmir is literally under siege. New Delhi has sent more troops to the region, and imposed a curfew. The Kashmir valley in particular has been turned into a prison where people are entirely cut off from the outside world. Will the world let India continue killing Kashmiris with impunity? Or will a comity of nations, especially major powers, speak up and stand with the oppressed? How can the world allow India to continue flouting international law while endangering peace in the region?
In response to India’s unilateral move, the UN called on all parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir.
But the question is: Is this enough? Will such a neutral reaction make a difference? Will this push India, who aspires to have a permanent seat on the Security Council, to comply with applicable Security Council resolutions? 
In 1998, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1172 which, inter alia, underlined the importance of resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Some security council members may find it hard to transcend narrow political and commercial interests, and many might be reluctant to condemn or even upbraid India. But at the very least, the Council must ask the UN Secretary General to appoint a special representative for Jammu and Kashmir with a mandate to mediate, and with the aim of finding a fair solution to the dispute.
India will no doubt, refuse to accept the resolution. But it is up to the international community now, to convey to India loud and clear that it cannot look the other way when the lives of nearly 15 million Kashmiris are at risk.

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