India, Pakistan to fight it out on J&K at UNHRC


New Delhi, Sep 9, 2019 (IANS)

After failing to garner support on Jammu and Kashmir from countries individually, Pakistan is now preparing to rake up the issue at the forum of United Nations, mainly with the agenda of internationalizing the matter.

Pakistan, which has become desperate ever since the government of India abolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir granted under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated the state in August, is sending its Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to get the issue raised at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The intent is to get the world human rights body to make some critical remarks against India by particularly citing the restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir after the historic step with regard to it was taken through a Parliamentary process.

India, obviously, has prepared to foil Pakistan's designs. It has sent its expelled High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria and some other senior officials of the External Affairs Ministry to highlight that Pakistan is unnecessarily trying to rake up an internal matter of India at an international forum.

India is expected to assert its well-articulated position that restrictions were imposed to save human lives and cite the record that not a single civilian has died there in the last one month in any police action.

India is also likely to highlight how cross-border terrorism sponsored and nurtured by Pakistan has caused bloodshed and hampered development in Jammu and Kashmir.

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After the abolition of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, India has launched a diplomatic blitzkrieg, telling the major powers of the world as well as other nations about the rationale behind the decision.

Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, India has been telling the world that the abolition of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation into two Union Territories was aimed at ensuring all-round economic progress and social development here.

Modi has been telling this to leaders of various countries during his telephonic conversations as well as personal meetings. Recently, he did so in Vladivostok in Russia on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) last week, when he held bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has been touring several countries to convey India's point of view.

Pakistan's move to take the issue to the UNHRC comes after facing rebuff from most of the countries to its attempts to rope in third-party intervention to make India revoke its decision of August 7.

It virtually pleaded with countries like the US and Russia and also tried to get support from the Gulf nations by using the Muslim card.

Pakistan has even tried to blackmail the world community with threats of war with India and by saying that it would not be able to help in international war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

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However, all nations maintained that they would not like to get involved, with most saying that it is India's internal matter and some others saying that any issue over Jammu and Kashmir should be resolved bilaterally by India and Pakistan.

The biggest shocker for Pakistan was the attitude of the Gulf countries and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), which have not fallen for Pakistan's bait.

To add insult to Pakistan's injury, United Arab Emirates (UAE), a major Islamic nation, instead of being critical of India, honoured Prime Minister Narendra Modi with 'Order of Zayed', the highest civil decoration of the country about two weeks back.

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Similarly, Bahrain also honoured Modi with its highest civilian award.

Pakistan's "all-weather friend" China, while holding that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, placated Islamabad by getting the UN Security Council last month to hold "informal" discussions on the developments in the state.

But Pakistan's effort, through China, to make UNSC issue some statement against India, failed miserably as it was not done. Among the five Permanent members of the UNSC, the US, Russia, France and UK maintained, individually, that the matter should be discussed bilaterally between India and Pakistan.

US President Donald Trump, who has spoken to Modi and Khan over phone, has been shifting his position between offer of mediation "if both countries wanted" and asking Pakistan to reduce tensions. But India has asserted that no other country can have any say as affairs related to Jammu and Kashmir are the country's internal matter.

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In fact, Modi told Trump during their meeting late last month that issues related to Jammu and Kashmir were India's internal matter and no other country needed to take the "trouble" of getting involved.

Amidst desperation, Pakistan Foreign Minister even said that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir would be raised at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). However, according to reports in the Pakistani media, there were not many takers in the Pakistan government for this move as the learned people opined that the world court has no jurisdiction in the matter.

Quoting international law expert Taimur Malik, a Pakistani media report said it would be difficult to put India in the dock due to various provisions of the international law as India reserves the right on bilateral issues at the ICJ.

New Delhi has maintained that since Jammu and Kashmir has legally acceded to the Union of India in 1947, all matters related to the state are internal.

On abolition of the special status granted to the state in 1950 under Article 370, the government holds that the provision of the Indian Constitution was meant to be temporary in nature and ending of its applicability amounted to no violation of any kind.

India, in fact, has gone a step ahead by saying that any talks with Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir would be related to the territories of the state under illegal occupation of Pakistan.

Those territories, including parts of Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, were annexed by Pakistan by sending its army and irregulars on October 22, 1947, in violation of the Standstill Agreement that Maharaja Hari Singh, then ruler of the state, had signed with both India and Pakistan.

Worried by the Pakistani action, Hari Singh appealed to India for help and in the process, the Instrument of Accession was signed on October 26, 1947, following which Indian troops landed in Srinagar and started pushing back the Pakistani aggressors.

The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru approached the UN against the Pakistani action. The UNSC passed a resolution, mandating a ceasefire between Indian and Pakistani armies. In the resolution, the world body enlisted certain steps, first of which was that Pakistan, the aggressor, must withdraw its troops and irregulars from all territories of Jammu and Kashmir. Thereafter, India would keep its minimum forces in the vacated state to allow a plebiscite under the supervision of the UN.

The UNSC Resolution No.47, adopted on April 21, 1948, read: "The Government of Pakistan should undertake to use its best endeavours: (a) To secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting, and to prevent any intrusion into the State of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the State."

The resolution also said: "The Government of India should: (a) When it is established to the satisfaction of the Commission set up in accordance with the Council's resolution 39 (1948) that the (Pakistani) tribesmen are withdrawing and that arrangements for the cessation of the fighting have become effective, put into operation in consultation with the Commission a plan for withdrawing their own forces from Jammu and Kashmir and reducing them progressively to the minimum strength required for the support of the civil power in the maintenance of law and order."

Pakistan, however, defied the UNSC resolution as it never implemented the first step prescribed by the world body.

Since then, much water has flowed, with India and Pakistan signing a number of bilateral pacts and documents, like the Simla Agreement of 1972 and Lahore Declaration of 1999, which have superseded the UNSC resolutions.