Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Raja Parvez Ashraf meeting this week a seven-member team of All Parties Hurriyat Conference in Islamabad stated that Pakistan seeks to resolve the Kashmir issue on the basis of UN resolutions and the aspiration of the Kashmiri people. This statement should be welcomed by New Delhi. Once again it offers an opportunity to New Delhi to right the wrong committed by successive Indian governments for the past six decades.
The establishment of a South Asian Union is the only rational and feasible formula to resolve Kashmir and all other disputes that have divided the region.
India has consistently, inexplicably and stupidly opposed plebiscite in Kashmir as laid down in the UN resolution of 1948 to project this nation as an opponent of a formula for resolving the Kashmir dispute which is heavily weighted in India ’s favour. Mr. Ashraf’s latest offer opens the door for initiating a substantive dialogue with Pakistan on Kashmir that could resolve the dispute.
One is sure that the Pakistan Prime Minister was fully briefed by his officials on the implications of his proposal before he announced it. In all there have been between 17 January 1948 and 21 December 1971, fourteen UN resolutions on Kashmir . The resolutions were updated to keep abreast of new developments. But the original aggression by Pakistan in Kashmir was never in dispute. Therefore the core provisions of the original UN resolution on a Kashmir plebiscite remained unchanged. In order to conduct a plebiscite under a commission appointed by the UN the following steps will have to be undertaken.
All Pakistani troops would have to vacate Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Indian troops would be enabled to occupy the whole of Kashmir until all terrorism ends. China would have to vacate all territory occupied in Kashmir that was illegally ceded to it by Pakistan in violation of the UN Resolution in order to revert to the status of Kashmir before hostilities began in 1947. The UN Resolution clearly stated that Kashmir reverts to its original status before a plebiscite is held to determine how the people of Kashmir vote. However, according to the UN Resolution the people of entire undivided Kashmir may choose to unite with India or with Pakistan without choice for independence for either any part or for entire, Kashmir.
In 2006 former Secretary-General of UN Mr. Kofi Annan had clarified that the UN resolutions on Kashmir were not under Chapter 7 of the UN charter and therefore not self-enforcing. Cooperation of both India and Pakistan was required for implementation. Thereby if the terms in full specified in the UN Resolutions are not acceptable implicitly both governments by mutual consent could arrive at an acceptable formula. A reputed British firm after conducting a detailed opinion poll of undivided Kashmir found that the majority of people in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir wanted to remain in Pakistan, the majority of the people in Ladakh and Jammu wanted to remain in India, and the majority of the people in the Valley wanted independence.
If hypothetically these findings were to become the basis of agreement neither India nor Pakistan would endanger security without safeguards. The obvious safeguard for security of both nations and for the entire region would be obtained through establishment of joint defence among the armies of all regional nations. This in turn is not feasible without the creation of a full-fledged confederation modeled on the European Union. This frequently made suggestion deserves to be repeated.
The establishment of a South Asian Union is the only rational and feasible formula to resolve Kashmir and all other disputes that have divided the region. An increasing number of commentators across borders are gradually beginning to recognize this. The hostile and unstable status of the region has begun to tax their stamina. It is time to strike for change. The Pakistan Prime Minister’s statement offers an opening for starting a substantive dialogue. New Delhi should seize the opportunity. The government should respond positively.