The longstanding standoff of Kashmir is a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. The territorial argument between India and Pakistan over the region of Kashmir is the main impediment to relations between the two nuclear states as well as a threat to regional security. After the revocation of Article 370 by Indian Government last year, this dispute has taken another leap towards the threats of nuclear war. History tells us the whole story whether it’s the intrusion of India in Kashmir or the mediation of the United Nations on the matter.
In May 1948, war broke out between Pakistan and India. It happened after the Indian Army initiated an offensive along the Uri/Muzaffarabad front. Commander in Chief of the Pakistan Army, General Douglas Gracy, called in Pakistani regular forces into the Azad Kashmir to avert Indian advancement towards Muzaffarabad. The war between both countries continued until January 1, 1949, when the UN Security Council (UNSC) passed its first resolution on this emerging conflict between India and Pakistan. It further declared plebiscite in the whole state as the ultimate solution. This resolution also called to further establish a ceasefire line in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. On January 5, 1949, the UN affirmed the agreed position of the governments of India and Pakistan mentioning that the query regarding the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will only be concluded through the autonomous process of a free and neutral plebiscite. The resolution regarding ceasefire was executed on July 27, 1949, once the military representatives of both countries met in Karachi.
Unfortunately, the plebiscite was never held regardless of an agreement between India and Pakistan. It was mentioned in the agreement that the future of the state of Kashmir would be decided through a fair and free plebiscite. On January 1, 1948, under Article 35 of the UN Charter, India consulted the UN Security Council accusing Pakistan of assisting the tribesmen. The government of Pakistan in reply denied all charges of serving the tribesmen. Pakistan further blamed India of protecting the succession of the state through power and deception by averting the agreements under the partition pacts. Pakistan also pushed charges that the succession was not in agreement with the law.
On January 17, 1948, the Security Council approved a resolution on the state of Kashmir and urged Pakistan and India to take timely actions to improve the situation in the state. On January 20, 1948, the Security Council again adopted a resolution demanding an urgent probe into the matter. The resolution clearly stated that the worsening situation might intimidate international peace. Under the Resolution, it was decided to establish the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to examine the argument and also determined the responsibilities of the commission. In the same year on April 21, 1948, the Security Council adopted another Resolution. The resolution noted that both India and Pakistan are willing regarding the accession of the state and that it should be determined through the democratic method of a free and unbiased plebiscite. The resolution also inculcated that the UNCIP needs to visit the subcontinent to arbitrate and make it possible for both countries to hold a plebiscite. The first section of the Resolution insisted Pakistan for withdrawal of tribesmen from the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The second part of the resolution included that once the commission is satisfied regarding the exit of tribesmen, the agreement concerning the withdrawal would put into operation in consultation with the commission.
It further asserted that a plan for withdrawing forces from both sides in the state of Jammu and Kashmir will be finalized. A proper plan will be enacted to support civil power in the preservation of law and order. Security Council also asked the Indian government to institute an authority to hold Plebiscite at earliest. India was expecting something else. India’s illusionary expectations were that the UN would blame Pakistan as an invader. The Resolutions 38 and 47 rather made it clear that UN-supervised plebiscite is the only way out to determine the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to India or Pakistan. It also denied the idea of any confirmation regarding the accession of the state to India. Moreover, Resolution 47 called for the simultaneous withdrawal of troops of both countries from Jammu & Kashmir which further disappointed India. Moving ahead in the same spirit, on 30th March 1951, UN Security Council adopted another resolution and reaffirmed that the final disposition of the State of Jammu & Kashmir will only be made in accord with the will of people articulated through the democratic method of a free and unbiased plebiscite conducted under the patronage of the United Nations. Security Council by its Resolution also insisted the parties conduct a positive discussion with the United Nations Representative.
On December 24, 1952, Resolution 98 (1952) recalled the provisions of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan. The council also reaffirmed that the resolutions of August 13, 1948, and January 5, 1949, which included the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan would be decided through a neutral plebiscite. All the previous resolutions seemed to gain nothing. India’s response was also unfavourable. After the abortion of Article 370 in August last year, again there seemed to be a need for arbitration. Soon after the abrogation in August 2019, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in a special meeting has highlighted the disputed status of Indian Occupied Kashmir and further called upon both Pakistan and India to exercise self-control and abstain from unilateral actions that would aggravate the situation. The year 2018 marked the 70th anniversary of the First Indo-Pakistani War over Jammu and Kashmir and United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 47. India Pakistan relations are characterized by extreme crises at irregular intervals. Since the late 1980s, there has been a hazard that any grave predicament could conclude in a nuclear exchange. There is also a probability, and the probable costs of, such an exchange. The major debate is centred that nuclear weapons can further increase the crisis between India and Pakistan. There are three main factors involved in the strategic relationship between India and Pakistan. They are nuclear weapons, terrorism, and the concerns of the international community. Unlike in the Cold War strategic situation where the United States and the Soviet Union were in conversation first and foremost with each other whereas the deterrence game in South Asia has both sub-state and extra-regional players involved. Since the 1998 nuclear tests, India and Pakistan are engaged in a more severe crisis.
The issue of Kashmir has more implication given the nuclearization of South Asia. Therefore Kashmir is a potential nuclear flashpoint between India and Pakistan. The abrogation of the special constitutional status of Kashmir by the Indian government on August 5, 2019, also referred to as Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 and the subsequent lockdown in IOK has since noticeably augmented political and diplomatic tensions between both countries. The recent moves by India in IOK have internationalized the Kashmir dispute. This was obvious during the UN General Assembly’s Session, where the Kashmir dispute remained a vital agenda item for several countries. Last year, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the UNGA cautioned the international community about the threats of a nuclear war that according to him might break out over Kashmir due to Indian atrocities and one-sided decisions to change the demographic status of the occupied valley. The present situation appears to be the most dangerous time for both countries as well as for the region. The current scenario stresses the need for mediation by the UN.
United Nations needs to accomplish its responsibility to hold a plebiscite in IOK and to ensure the security of the people of Kashmir who are facing the brutalities of India since long. However, Indian blame game, hostile behaviour and odious nuclear signalling against Pakistan can’t be tolerated. Such behaviour by Indian authorities would greatly limit the prospects for international mediation particularly by the United Nations whose resolutions on Kashmir offer a right of autonomy to decide the future of this disputed territory. In recent years, especially after the revocation of Article 370, the focus of the UN has again turned to Kashmir. It is also because of the human right violations in the area by Indian forces. Presently there is an utter deadlock between India and Pakistan regarding negotiations and dialogues which are indeed impossible in the current scenario.
Any pragmatic approach from the international community is also missing. Even in the case of the United Nations, the required pragmatism is missing when it comes to the human rights violations and sufferings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir dispute has a growing implication in the backdrop of nuclearization of South Asia. The gravity of the situation in South Asia is such that rational dictates the need for urgent measures and solving the Kashmir dispute are one of them. India’s attempt to re-escalate the conflict between India and Pakistan has further increased the tension at the local, regional and international levels particularly after the echoes of nuclear weapons potential at both ends. Although the international community, particularly the U.N., NATO, and the U.S., all are concerned regarding this particular aspect but they have not done anything practically to resolve the main issue. Here it is pertinent to mention that the international community or UN has no chance to keep silent since the possible use of nuclear weapons is an evident threat.