Fourteen days deliberations of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) recently concluded on 30 September 2019. Usually within the time allotted to each nation, the respective heads of state make use of the occasion to put their perspective and vision of the common objectives, achievements, problems and roadmap in the UNGA representing the interests of the world community. Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan were slotted to address the UNGA on the same day on 27 September say within about an hour’s gap. While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi adhered to time schedule and spoke like a world leader on the common issues, concerns and own country’s efforts to address it in a global perspective, Pakistani Prime Minister went on for about fifty minutes disregarding UNGA schedule and decorum, and spent the opportunity with his apoplectic tirade abusing India on Kashmir and Islam.
Prime Minister Modi, in his short address, spoke on domestic progress on Clean India Mission, Health Assurance Scheme, Financial Inclusion Scheme and campaign to make India free from single-use plastic as also global issues like climate change, renewable energy and poverty alleviation simultaneously making a broad appeal to all nations to come together to fight terrorism which is single biggest threat before humanity today. During his address, he didn’t make a single reference to Pakistan or its leader. On the other hand, Prime Minister Khan, true to Pakistan’s global image and sense of responsibility, almost entire focused his speech on glorification of Islam, hurling abuses on India and its leadership, narrating concocted story of human rights violation and excesses besides his habitual nuclear sabre rattling as if the dispute between India and Pakistan has assumed apocalyptic proportion.
Chicanery and skullduggery of the leader of Pakistan was apparent and, in fact, already exposed on many occasions during his weeklong stay in New York during the current UNGA session where he tried to project himself as the champion of the cause of Muslims world over and more particularly those in the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir. However, duplicity of his approach and behaviour was best illustrated in the US State Department’s spokesperson Alice Wells when she stressed that Pakistan stays mum when it comes to Uighur Muslims in China, whose fate is worse than Kashmiri Muslims of India. It is well known in the world community how Uighurs are not allowed by China to practice their religion and almost a million of them have been herded by the authorities into the concentration camp-like conditions. Current overtures and interference of Pakistan in India and its internal matters is indeed dangerous and counterproductive to the peace and stability in the South-Asian region.
Salient Points Made by Two Leaders
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was allotted fifteen minutes for his speech in the UNGA and he spoke for a little less than 17 minutes; makes sense considering interruptions due to wide applauses from the audience that could roughly be assigned to two minutes. Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan Niyazi gave a negatively poised, charged and emotional speech for about fifty minutes against the allotted time of fifteen minutes, during which he was repeatedly reminded of time overrun initially with the yellow and later with red light constantly blinking. Few interruptions due to applauses mostly came from members of his own entourage.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not mention Pakistan even once in his speech but in a veiled and implied reference, he indeed stressed that the terrorism affects all countries globally and the international community should unite against this menace for the sake of humanity. It was his second appearance in the UNGA and on the earlier occasion in 2014, Modi had spoken on the need for a bilateral dialogue with Pakistan, simultaneously making it clear that the terror and talk cannot go together. On the other hand, Prime Minister Khan, in his maiden appearance, mostly dedicated his time on Islamophobia and a rant against India raking up the Kashmir issue. In his anti-India rhetoric, terming the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and ruling BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party) as "fascist" and "Hindu supremacist", he warned the world community of "bloodbath" in Kashmir and escalation of hostilities leading to nuclear war between the two countries.
Recalling the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi in the year of his 150th birth anniversary, Indian Prime Minister made a reference to the successful implementation of what he calls as the world's biggest sanitation campaign under the Clean India Mission by building over 110 million toilets in five years for he countrymen and the drive for keeping the surroundings clean. He also made a mention of the achievements under the country’s health assurance scheme covering about 500 million people and the financial inclusion scheme opening over 370 million bank accounts for the poor and less privileged people. He held hat these achievements and outcomes are an inspirational message for the entire world. Among the futuristic plans, he spoke about the government’s commitment to make India free from single-use plastic, water conservation and ensuring piped water supply to about 150 million homes, 20 million houses for the poor and construction of 125,000 kilometers of new roads in the next five years.
About the climate change, Mr Modi said that India’s contribution to global warming is very low from the per capita emission perspective yet India is one of the leading nations on the subject with a target of 450 Giga Watts of renewal energy. India has favoured the formation of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) to help building infrastructure that could withstand natural disasters in the entire world. Citing the Tamil Poet Kariyan Pungun-dra-naar’s famous words "Ya-dum, Oo-ray, Yaav-rum Ke-rir" (We belong to all places, and to everyone), he recalled over 3000 years old Indian culture and vibrant traditions that see divinity in every being and strive for the welfare of all. While referring to India’s contribution and supreme sacrifices made by the soldiers in the UN Peacekeeping mission, he stressed that his country has traditionally given Buddh (symbol of “Peace”) and not yuddh (war) to the world. Referring to Swami Vivekanand’s message in the Parliament of World's Religions (1893) in Chicago, Mr Modi concluded that the message from the world’s largest democracy for the international community is still the same i.e. “Harmony and Peace”.
Prime Minister Imran Khan started with the point that his country was facing a difficult time, so he has come with a very urgent problem that the world must address. Before starting his polemic tirade against India and Islamophobia, he briefly spoke on the issues of the climate change and money laundering. He said that they have planted a billion trees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and they have a lot of ideas but the ideas without funding are mere hallucination. He suggested money laundering should be treated the same as the drug money or terror financing. He alleged that the ruling elites (in his country) have plundered the money which is located in the Western capitals but they (Pakistan) are finding it difficult to retrieve it. Laws protect these criminals (perhaps refering to past ruling elites of his country) and they do not have money to hire lawyers worth millions of dollars.
Imran Khan’s rest of the rhetoric was on Islamophobia and the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir on withdrawal of it’s temporary special status; on record, he uttered ‘Kashmir' at least 25 times, ‘India’ 17 times, ‘Islam’ 71 times, ‘Modi’ 12 times and ‘terrorism’ 28 times. Speaking on Muslims and radical Islam, Imran Khan squarely blamed some Western countries without naming them for creating Islamophobia. He said that Islamophobia grew since 9/11 (Al Queda terrorist attack on World Trade Centre, New York) at alarming rate after certain Western leaders equated terrorism with Islam, and by labeling their religion as “radical Islam”. With this, these leaders have created an association between a whole religion and terrorism creating Islamophobia in the world. In Western countries and India, this phobia is marginalizing Muslims, and the marginalization is leading to radicalization. He lamented if the religion is casted radical, how people in different parts of the world would distinguish between moderate and radical Muslims. It is creating divisions and even Muslim women wearing Hijab has become a problem, which is seen as a weapon.
Pakistani premier stated that their country had joined war against the Soviets in the 1980’s at the behest of Americans and trained “Mujahedeen”. While the Soviets called them terrorists, the Americans called them freedom fighters at that time. After Soviets left, in the changed scenario, the same Mujahedeen were now treated as terrorists, who turned against Pakistan and about 70,000 Pakistanis lost their life due to a war they had nothing to do with. He further added that after coming to power he has decided to disband all militant groups with the consent of all political parties. Against the backdrop of Indian allegations, Khan suggested that the United Nations observers can visit his country for verification themselves.
Imran Khan said that he made peace initiatives but received zero response from India, which blamed Pakistan without any proof when a Kashmiri boy radicalized by Indian forces blew himself up on an Indian convoy. After revocation of the Article 370, lakhs of Indian troops have been deployed and eight million people are put under curfew; then Indians are also trying to push Pakistan on the FATF blacklist to economically isolate his country. He further alleged that Mr Modi is a life member of RSS, an organization inspired by Hitler and Mussolini, and believe in racial superiority the same way as the Nazis believed in the supremacy of the Aryan race. Citing the statements of India’s Congress Party, Khan added that the RSS goons under Modi in Gujarat butchered 2000 Muslims.
Mr Khan also made allegation that one lakh Kashmiris have been killed and thousands of women raped. Citing numerous excesses on Kashmiri people (author does not deem it proper to use his many abusive words), he feared that a bloodbath would take place after the eight million Kashmiris caged like animals, come out of the lockdown and face nine lakh troops. All this will lead to further radicalization and more Pulwama like attacks. Also 180 million Muslims of India too will be radicalized as they see eight million Kashmiris locked up. He gave a call to 1.3 billion Muslims world over to stand for the Kashmiri Muslims and lamented that the world community is not supporting him because they want to appease a market of 1.2 billion (a reference to Indian economy). He concluded his speech calling for the United Nations to ask India to lift the curfew in Kashmir; free 13,000 detained Kashmiris; and insist for Kashmir’s right to self-determination.
India Exercises Right to Reply
Exercising right to reply, India immediately responded to the bizarre allegations of the Pakistani premier made in his lengthy speech. A middle level Indian diplomat Vidisha Maitra, First Secretary MEA was fielded who termed Imran Khan’s speech as a callous portrayal of the world in binary terms: Us vs Them; Rich vs Poor; North vs South; Developed Vs Developing; and Muslims vs Others that can easily be put in the category of the "hate speech" with brinksmanship, rather than statesmanship. She mentioned that the General Assembly has rarely witnessed such misuse, rather abuse, of an opportunity to reflect; and use of words and phrases like “pogrom”, “bloodbath”, “racial superiority”, “pick up the gun” and “fight to the end” reflected a medieval mindset. Responding on Khan’s averment of having disbanded all militant groups in Pakistan and inviting the UN Observers to see, she posed following questions before the pretending nation to respond as a precursor to the proposed verification:
- Can Pakistan confirm the fact that it is home to 130 UN designated terrorists and 25 terrorist entities listed by the UN, as of today?
- Will Pakistan acknowledge that it is the only Government in the world that provides pension to an individual listed by the UN in the Al Qaeda and Da’esh Sanctions list?
- Can Pakistan explain why here in New York, its premier bank, the Habib Bank had to shut shop after it was fined millions of dollars over terror financing?
- Would Prime Minister Khan deny to the city of New York that he was an open defender of Osama bin Laden?
- Will Pakistan deny that the Financial Action Task Force has put the country on notice for its violations of more than 20 of the 27 key parameters?
The Indian spokesperson said that Pakistan is a country that has shrunk the size of its minority community from 23% in 1947 to 3% on date and has subjected Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadiyas, Hindus, Shias, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Balochis to draconian blasphemy laws, systemic persecution, blatant abuse and forced conversions. Their newfound fascination for human rights is akin to trophy hunting of the endangered mountain goat - markhor. Reacting on Imran Khan’s selection of words like “pogrom”, she said that the phenomenon is not applicable to world’s vibrant democracies like India, reminding him of the gruesome genocide perpetrated by Pakistan against its own people in 1971 in Bangladesh and the role played by Lt Gen AAK Niazi. Citing that those who thrive on conflict never welcome the ray of peace, she stressed that India was going ahead with the mainstream development of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh while Pakistan is engaged in upstream terrorism and downstream hate speech. She concluded by saying that the citizens of India do not need anyone else to speak on their behalf, least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate.
Anatomy of Speeches of Two Leaders
Prime Minister Narendra Modi adhered to the time limit prescribed by UNGA and made full use of available time to broadly cover important issues that are relevant to the world community in today’s context. Like a true statesman, he spoke about India’s major initiatives during the last five years for inclusive development and growth as also the actions and initiatives undertaken, which are relevant towards the development, peace and security worldwide. He received wide applause from the audience while talking about the initiatives like Swachh Bharat Mission, Health Assurance Scheme, Financial Inclusion Scheme, Sabka Saath - Sabka Vikas – Sabka Vishwas, India's contribution to UN Peacekeeping Missions and so on. He recalled the message of Swami Vivekanand delivered in the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago over one hundred years ago and concluded his address by saying that India still believes in the “peace and harmony” of the entire world.
Indian Prime Minister officially announced the resolve of the discontinuation of the single-use plastic from India. While recalling over 3000 years old quote of a Tamilian Poet “We belong to all places, and to everyone”, he recounted ancient Indian culture and vibrant traditions that see divinity in every being and strive for the welfare of everyone. He pointed out that per capita contribution of India in global warming is very low, yet the country has taken huge initiative for tapping the renewal energy. He also underlined the importance of technology and its impact on economy, safety, connectivity and relations worldwide. While highlighting India’s contribution towards world peace by detailing soldiers and resources in the UN Peacekeeping mission, he reiterated that the country has given for centuries to the world “Peace” instead of War. Though he talked about the dire need for global unity and efforts to fight terrorism but he didn’t raise finger at the current global hub of terror next door.
In a stark contrast, Prime Minister Imran Khan disregarded the allotted time and spoke for about fifty minutes with red lights constantly blinking as reminder of speech overrun. Needless to mention, the UNGA represents about 193 nations and callousness on the part of one may upset the entire schedule. He began with a passing reference to climate change and money laundering in his country and then passionately indulged in rant and rave abusing India mainly in the context of the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir while simultaneously blaming Western countries for Islamophobia. While referring to the Indian Prime Minister (by name) and RSS, he frequently used objectionable words and abusive terms like “goons” as also bizarre and apocalyptic terms like “bloodbath” and “nuclear war”. In fact, the perusal of the schedule of his weeklong stay at New York suggests that his only agenda and mission in New York was to malign the image of India and garner support for his country on Kashmir issue. Major takeouts of his speech in UNGA are briefly analyzed under the following headings and paragraphs:
If at all any positive point that can be derived from Imran Khan’s speech, it is his brief indulgence on the issue of the climate change. He stated that in Khyber Pakhtukhwa province, a billion trees have been planted in five years and they are now targeting ten billion trees. Though many details are not available but information available suggests that the programme “Billion Tree Tsunami” was launched in 2014 by the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan and completed in 2017. That be so the country's efforts for the environment conservation shall be acknowledged and appreciated. However, simultaneously taking a dig at other nations, he said that they have scarcity of funds and the efforts of only one country cannot bring change in the world climate. When he has no knowledge of what other countries are doing on climate change and global warming, he could have exercised restraints.
Duplicity and Falsehood:
On Pakistani Prime Minister’s rhetoric on his love and concern for the Kashmiri Muslims, the precise and sharpest remarks came from Alice Wells, US Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, during a special briefing at the United Nations General Assembly very next day. The US Spokesperson asked Pakistan why it is only bothered about the human rights of Muslims in Kashmir and is not highlighting the "horrific conditions" that continue to exist for the members of the community throughout China. It is well known world over that China has detained an estimated one million Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims in Xinjiang province since 2014 in concentration camps like conditions, which China refers to as re-education camps. These camps operate outside the legal system and, reportedly, people are interned without trial and levy of charges for long with the stated purpose of countering extremism and terrorism. Chinese support to Pakistan is well known even on the UN listed terrorists like Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed.
The double standard of Pakistani leaders is not a new phenomenon and, in fact, the very foundation of Pakistan is based on duplicity and falsehood, as numerous instances could be quoted in support. Quoting instances from the past may be out of context here yet Pakistani aggression of Kashmir in 1947 may be relevant to quote here. While Maharaja of Kashmir was taking time to decide, Pakistan was prompt to agree for signing “Standstill Agreement” with the princely state. While status quo was to be maintained under the agreement, Pakistan resorted to a siege of Kashmir by cutting off essential supplies with the aim to strangulate and compel the state to surrender in September and launched a full-fledged attack backing armed Pashtun tribals and mercenaries in October 1947 with a motive to capture it by force. Of late, linking Indian air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp at Balakot in February with environment damage, Imran Khan said that there was no terror camp and they were pained with the loss of ten trees. Only few days before this statement, he had stated in August 2019 that India was planning a bigger operation in POK than Balakot strike and Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid too admitted in Pakistan Parliament that 14 Indian jets had entered Pakistan and hit Madarsa run by Masood Azhar "sahab" - a UN designated terrorist.
On one hand, Pakistani Prime Minister talks of disbanding all militant outfits and suggests UN observers to visit Pakistan for verification; on the other hand, they officially take up a case with the UN Security Council making a strong case seeking permission to allow pocket money to the UN listed Lashkar-e-Taiba Chief and dreaded terrorist Hafiz Saeed by unfreezing his bank account. This terrorist leader is responsible for umpteen terror attacks in Kashmir and other parts of India and carries a bounty of ten million US dollar on his head. Making a gesture in the UNGA to dispatch observers to Pakistan is comparable to yet another front of showing a bold face to the terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on the strength of China and some other like-minded countries. Only last month, the Paris-based FATF said that Pakistan was still not taking enough concrete steps to curb financing and money laundering by terrorist groups. While Pakistani premier was making tall claims in UNGA, a stockpile of AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and satellite phones were caught by the Punjab Police in Amritsar. Reportedly, the consignment was airdropped by heavy-lifting drones from Pakistan for the use of terrorists to foment trouble in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistani Prime Minister talked about the purity of religion while the Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. He suggested that Islamophobia has been created by some Western countries globally after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre so much so that even the hijab of Muslim woman is taken as weapon. At the same time he tried to mix the religion with the politics when he tried to incite Indian Muslims to make a common cause with Kashmiris through radicalization. He even gave a call to the Muslims world over to come together to accomplish his mission on Kashmir. After returning from New York, he has gone to the extent of declaring “jihad” against India citing “we are doing it because we want Allah to be happy with us”. In fact, he even gave a call to Muslims to head towards the Line of Control (LOC). This is an irresponsible and ludicrous statement because the implication and fate of fiddling with the borders of a sovereignty nation is well known. When a head of state conducts himself in this manner, it is not surprising that many young boys are radicalised in the name of religion by vested interests with a hope or greed of "Jannat (heaven)" and "Hurs (female angels)".
Imran Khan’s rant and rave on “Modi” and “RSS goons” butchering 2000 Muslims in Gujarat or Indian forces killing one lakh Kashmiris and raping thousands of women there is an extreme garbage of falsehood and shame on the stature of a person who also happens to be the head of country. Gujarat riots were a sequel of Godhra incident in which a train was put on fire by a violent Muslim mob in which 58 Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive. The backlash led to Hindu – Muslim riots resulting in death and injuries to both communities but Muslims were more affected. Many exaggerated accounts exist but official data accounts for the deaths of 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims. As for Kashmir, suffice to mention that perhaps India is the only country in the world with numerous instances where sponsored stone-pelters abuse and throw stones on security forces and the latter tolerate it without any action in retaliation. About two years back, one stone-pelter was tied on a jeep by soldiers to ward off miscreants in a rescue operation and the incident became an international news condemned domestically and world over. India is a vibrant democracy and any event or news cannot be supressed unlike autocratic and dictatorial regimes. Hence only Pakistan and Imran Khan can reveal the source of the alleged genocide and misdemeanor against women. For decades, it is well known how Pakistan army and ISI have been engaged in false propaganda against Indian forces through fabricated news, images and fake videos on Kashmir. During the last UNGA session, Pakistan had presented to the assembly a photograph of palistinian girl citing her a victim of pellet gun used by Indian soldiers in Kashmir and the lie was exposed within few hours.
Pakistani Prime Minister had gone to New York supported with a big contingent on a mission to invite attention and muster support of the international community and United Nation on its stand on Kashmir. As part of his Mission, he ranted and raved on Kashmir for the most time of his speech in UNGA. In addition, he separately met some heads of countries including US and Organization of Islamic Cooperation. He also met Farooq Kathwari, the founder of Kashmir Study Group in New York to seek support. With his country close to the brink of economic disaster, running a high risk of being blacklisted for terrorist financing and tremendous opposition at home, he was perhaps hoping to use the Kashmir issue to improve his image and support nationally and internationally. However, he himself had to admit that he did not receive support of the world community on the expected line. He did receive sympathy and support from China, Turkey and Malaysia but their stand was known even beforehand from the past experience.
Exploiting Media and Power of Information:
It was perhaps for the first time that Pakistan had tried to fully tap and utilize the role of media and power of information warfare to further its cause. Although it has been a routine and repetitive chorus of Pakistan leaders to raise Kashmir issue in UNGA every year but this year it was special with Imran Khan making efforts in not leaving any stone unturned in this venture. He carried along a big Pakistani contingent and had deployed his assets including Pakistani media journalists with well-rehearsed brief at all forums and events. Many cabinet ministers, President of Pak-occupied-Kashmir and even few think-tankers were drafted and deployed for the purpose. While his UNGA speech was targeted at the Muslim diaspora in general but he also tried to incite Indian Muslims to join his chorus. The support from Turkey and Malaysia was on the expected lines, and three countries even resolved to work together to start an English channel to educate people on Islam. A resolution by the Labour Party in the United Kingdom and a public speech of one democrat US Congressman were some favourable responses that Pakistan could now rejoice for. However, all this may prove of no worth considering the obtaining massive support of the world community to India on Kashmir and its emerging global status as politically relevant and economically viable nation.
Indian spokesperson was right when she commented that the entire speech of Prime Minister Khan smacked of brinkmanship, instead of statesmanship. Use of the terms like “Pogrom”, “Bloodbath”, “goons”, “Hitler and Mussolini”, “Nazism” and phrases “picks up a weapon” and “starts killing all muggers” are neither civilized nor auger well coming from the Head of a country. Perhaps he may find audience at home and few in Islamic world for his hysterical approach, but his call to action for the radical elements is very dangerous, particularly his attempt to incite Indian Muslims and Muslim diaspora across the world. Similarly his open threat of 'another Pulwama' and “escalation into a nuclear war” is something very difficult to ignore. In the past, Pakistani leaders have occasionally given veiled or open nuclear threat but none has ever raised it to a level what Imran Khan and his cabinet ministers are doing today.
Allegation of one lakh Kashmiris killed and eleven thousand women raped in Kashmir by the Indian forces is not only absurd and malicious but also very unholy and dangerous. Ordinarily, Imran Khan’s references to Hitler, Mussolini or Nazism, and warning of another Czechoslovakia like 'appeasement' would only place majority audience in splits, but his attempts to incite sentiments of Muslims, not only in Kashmir but also in India as a whole, to act violently against the Indian government, do not auger well from any point of view. On one hand he issues disclaimer that there is nothing like “Islamic terrorism”, and then from the same podium he talks of radicalization of Muslims and taking extreme steps to avenge self-determined cause. Even back home, he declares “Jihad” against India and asks his people to march towards the Line of Control (LOC). This appeal to radicals and call to action is dangerous indeed and cannot be justified by any logic or argument. This ranting and raving, if continued, may certainly lead to a disaster and bloodbath in the region.
Does Pakistan Have a Case in Kashmir?
Under the Indian Independence Act (1947), the British India was partitioned into the two independent dominions of India and Pakistan simultaneously ending the suzerainty of British Crown over the Indian States. By implication, this meant that the Princely States were left to either join India or Pakistan or to remain independent. Jammu and Kashmir had a majority Muslim population and Hindu ruler who remained undecided as he feared that the Muslims would be unhappy with accession to India, and the Hindus and Sikhs would become vulnerable if he joined Pakistan. The state offered to sign "Standstill Agreement" with both India and Pakistan, which the latter accepted immediately but India asked for more time for elaborate discussions.
The State of Jammu and Kashmir was contiguous to both the dominions, and Pakistan wanted it to merge it with them on the plea of the majority Muslim population and geographical contiguity. Restless with possible delays, they stopped all essential supplies to the Princely State in September to pressurize the Maharja (king) violating bipartite agreement and pushed armed Pushtoon tribesmen and mercenaries to invade the State on 22 October 1947. The Pakistan army provided arms, ammunition and supplies to the invaders who were dubbed the "Azad Army". Unable to defend the State, the Maharaja formally sought intervention of India and signed an "Instrument of Accession" on 26 October, 1947, following which the Government of India dispatched its armed forces in the Valley to save Kashmir. The war between the Indian forces and Pakistani invaders continued till 1948 and Indian leadership under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru sought intervention of the United Nations Security Council in January 1948 for the resolution of the issue.
Among several resolutions on India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir, the one passed by the UN Security Council on 21st April 1948 was most crucial which inter alia provided for three major stipulations. According to this, Pakistan was called upon to secure the withdrawal of all Pakistani nationals and tribesmen putting an end to the fighting in the state, India were to progressively reduce its armed forces to the minimum level as required for maintaining the law and order, followed by a plebiscite to ascertain aspirations of people in the state under the UN supervision. Disputes continued between the two parties for long: Pakistan remained reluctant to vacate territories already captured; India too was not willing to allow participation of pro-Pakistani elements in the interim government in the state headed by Sheikh Abdullah. Thus due to mutual mistrust and differences, the two sides did not implement pre-requisites of plebiscite for long and the question of plebiscite gradually became impractical and irrelevant. The United Nations too stopped considering the issue of plebiscite after 1962 and, instead, kept advising both nations to settle dispute through bilateral dialogue.
The total area of Jammu & Kashmir at the time of independence was approximately 222,336 Sq Km. Pakistan forcibly occupied an area of about 83,294 Sq Km (37.46%) in 1947, and ceded 5180 Sq. Km to China in 1963. China occupied an area of about 37,555 Sq. Km. (16.89% ) in 1962 Indo-China War, the remaining area of about 101,487 Sq Km (45.65%) constitutes the present State of Jammu & Kashmir in India. Of this, the Jammu Division comprises of 26,293 Sq Km (25.93%), Ladakh Division 59,241 Sq Km (58.33%) and Kashmir division only 15,853 Sq Km (15.73%). It is the Kashmir Division (popularly known as Kashmir Valley) which has predominantly Muslim population with few districts badly affected with Pakistan sponsored insurgency and terrorism. Among other two divisions, Jammu has about 69% Hindu and Sikh population while two districts of Ladakh namely Leh and Kargil have predominantly Buddhist and Muslim population, respectively.
Since independence, many demographic and geographic changes have occurred rendering any demand of plebiscite infructuous and impractical. For instance, constant persecution and threat to the life and property by radicalized Muslims and terrorists, lakhs of Hindus, especially the Kashmiri Pundits, and Sikhs, have been forced to leave Kashmir Valley. While Valley based political parties have constantly opposed other Indian nationals in the state citing Article 370, thousands of illegal Rohingyas have been allowed by them with the connivance of the state machinery in Jammu region. On the other side, Pakistan has allowed large number of non-Kashmiris from their Punjab and other provinces to infiltrate and settle in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (POK) during the past decades. Thus it is not only the geography but also the demography of the state has considerably changed over the years. Any plebiscite as demanded by Pakistan has no meaning unless these demographic and geographic changes are reversed and the original status of 1947 restored.
The United Nations did not talk about plebiscite after 1962 and the alleged UN Security Council Resolutions are now obsolete and a thing of past. During the period, the two countries have fought three wars and agreed to settle all pending disputes under the provisions of the Shimla Agreement in July, 1972 and Lahore declaration of 1999. The time has also proved the futility of two-nation theory propagated by pre-independence Muslim League on the premise that Hindus and Muslims are two different nations that cannot coexist together. Theory was propagated by the generators of Pakistan; initially they failed to secure the population claimed by them as their flock and majoriy of them stayed back in India, later they quietly engineered the ethnic cleansing of minorities in Pakistan through systematic persecution, forcing them to leave and conversion while in secular India the same population grew at remarkable rate both in terms of numbers and percentage in the past decades. Quite obviously, there is no justification now for another division of the country on the basis of religion.
While it is widely reported and quite obvious that other than making periodical rhetoric and cause of common religion, the government of Pakistan has done little for the development and progress of POK in past decades. On the other hand, the State of Jammu & Kashmir, despite remaining disturbed due to Pakistan sponsored insurgency and terrorism, had democratically elected government most of the time with ample opportunities of development and growth. Apart from the normal annual budgetary allocations of the state and central governments for the sustained development, recently a special package of Rs 800,000 Million was implemented in 2015 for the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The state was lawfully integrated in India following independence, and the Article 370 of Constitution providing special status to the state was controversial from the beginning so much so that even Dr BR Ambedkar, father of the Constitution, had strongly opposed it citing its fallacies and ill effects on the nation.
However, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru prevailed and the controversial article was included in the Constitution as a temporary arrangement apparently to appease the National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah. Later he was dismissed and jailed by the very Congress (Nehru) Government in August 1953 as an accused of conspiracy against the State espousing the cause of an independent Kashmir with ample proof of his links with Pakistan and own speeches and activities to that affect. He remained imprisoned, interned or exiled till the Congress (Indira Gandhi) again restored him after 22 years with an accord in 1974-75. Even his pedigree followed by and large same ambivalent approach with umpteen incendiary speeches and actions, as is evident from the record of the successive leaders of Kashmir Valley, who have incited sentiments of people rather than assuaging their feelings at trying occasions in the State.
Now the controversial special status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir has been withdrawn through abrogation of the Article 370 and 35A with a massive majority in both the houses of Indian Parliament. The government has simultaneously taken certain precautionary measures by certain temporary restrictions and preventive detentions in the State. Government’s strategy has worked well so for as there has not been even single civil casualty on account of violence since wihdrawal of the special status in August 2019. The incidents of terrorist violence have also on decline and civic life in the State has almost returned to normal. The stated articles were not only a hurdle in full integration of the State with the Indian Republic but also prevented implementation of schemes of the Centre and latter's genuine intervention to maintain peace and harmony in the region. This is purely internal matter of India and Pakistan or any other country has no case or locus standi in the matter.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech in the 74th session of the United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) on 27 September 2019 could easily be categorized as hysterical outburst of a desperate leader and head of a state. In almost half of his speech, he ranted and raved against current Indian move in Kashmir, narrating a pack of lies, drumming up a hysteria of conventional war between two neighbours and threatening a nuclear holocaust with implications on world. Notwithstanding Khan’s blackmail and open nuclear threat, Pakistan found no takers of its version except few countries like China, Turkey and Malaysia, whose support was premeditated from the past experience.
India’s withdrawal of the temporary special status of the State of Jammu & Kashmir in August 2019 is an internal matter of a sovereign country, and Pakistan or any other country has no locus standi or any role in the matter. Pakistani Prime Minister’s rhetoric with false propaganda, acts of escalating tension on border, raising the bogey of nuclear war and efforts to internationalize the issue are totally unwarranted and unjustified. India has ruled out scope for any third-party mediation on the Kashmir issue with a clear stand that it is open for bilateral talks provided Pakistan completely renounces terrorism and takes concrete action against the terror groups operating from her soil. India does not need anyone else to speak for their citizens, least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate. Integration of Kashmir with India is an irreversible process and what remains to be settled through negoiations is the fate of the territories under illegal occupation of Pakistan.
Pakistani premier’s address in the UNGA could easily be categorized as a "hate speech" as was rightly done by the spokesperson in India's rejoinder in the assembly. In the past, Pakistani rulers had occasionally used the nuclear threat more as a political tool to muster support and improve image domestically but Imran Khan has adopted anti-India rhetoric on Kashmir and nuclear threat in a mission mode at a time when Pakistan is at all-time precarious state politically, socially and economically; hence the threat has assumed real dangerous proportions and connotations. Imran Khan's hypocritical rhetoric could not derive much traction during his New York venture and he himself has admitted it in desperation and utter frustration. Therefore, Indian leadership and armed forces will have to remain more vigilant and ready for any possible misadventure from the pugnacious and hostile neighbour till the situation returns to normal.