The Kashmir issue, for half a century has been on the agenda of the United Nations – it is still an unresolved palaver.
The people of Kashmir have a much longer history struggling for freedom than the peoples of other parts of the region. The Kashmiris, who have been victim of suppression and were exploited by various despotic alien rulers, revolted in the 1830s.
The State of Jammu & Kashmir was one of the 584 princely States of the Indian Sub-Continent. At the time of independence in 1947, rulers of these states were advised by the then Viceroy to either join India or Pakistan, keeping in view the wishes of their peoples and the geographical location.
Entrenched in the lap of the Himalayas, the State of Jammu & Kashmir with an area of 84471 square miles is surrounded by India, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan. The valley of Kashmir, a region of the State, is 85 miles long and 25 miles wide. Kashmir, referred to as “Paradise on Earth”, has entranced the prince and the pauper alike over the centuries with its serene, picturesque and bewitching beauty. However, the history of its people is a sad story of sobs and woes. Their life remained a tale of poverty and oppression as the famous scholar Vincent Smith wrote: “few regions in the world can have had worse luck than Kashmiris in the matter of government.”
The Kashmiri Muslims revolted, liberating a large region of the State and established Azad (free) Government of Jammu & Kashmir. India asked the United Nations for intervention, which rejected the Indian claim on the State and passed various resolutions, supporting the Kashmiris’ right of self-determination. The resolution of January 5, 1949 reads:
“The question of accession of the State of Jammu & Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and fair referendum.”
The UN Security Council repeated the right of self-determination of Kashmiris in various resolutions, including that of 1951 and 1957, as seen below:
“Observing that the Governments of India and Pakistan have accepted the provisions of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan resolutions of 13 August, 1948, and 5 January, 1949, and have reaffirmed their desire that the future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nation.”
“… the convening of a Constituent Assembly as recommended by the General Council of the “All Jammu & Kashmir National Conference” and any action that Assembly might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire State or any part thereof would not constitute a disposition of the State in accordance with the above principles.”
“The final disposition of the State of Jammu & Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations”.
Pakistan and India fought three wars on the issue and in the wake of each, both countries promised to resolve the issue, but did nothing on the ground.
An undue delay in implementing the UN resolutions on Kashmir, repeated absurd, sham elections in the State as well as the wave of democracy, which swept the globe in 1980s, brought the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) on the streets, agitating for their right of self-determination.
The situation on the ground now is worse. India has organized over 7 hundred thousand soldiers fully armed and with unlimited powers under the Kashmir specific laws. They have inflicted mess there. The killings inflicted on the helpless Kashmiris have been documented by Indian and international human rights organizations, like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others. Pakistan is also in a similar manner involved the Kashmir region.
Some people think of the Kashmir issue as a complex problem. As a matter of fact, it is a simple issue, concerning the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, as treasured in the resolutions of the United Nations on Kashmir as well as other international declarations. India and Pakistan should give peace a chance in the disputed regions by allowing a referendum that will work towards self-administration by the people of Kashmir.