UNSC and Kashmir Conflict

Recently the UNSC held a closed-door meeting on the situation in Kashmir. Even though no official communiqué was released, it is said the attempts by Pakistan and its all-weather ally China to internationalise the issue did not gain much traction. This is seen as a diplomatic victory to India which time and again has stated that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and no third party must interfere in the conflict.

When did the Kashmir issue reach the doors of UNSC?

The Kashmir issue first reached the door of UNSC on January 1, 1948, when India urged the UNSC to discuss the conflict that had erupted three months due to attempts made by Pakistan to acquire Kashmir by sponsoring irregulars, tribals and camouflaged soldiers into Kashmir for carrying out violence and capture the region.

This had prompted the Maharaja of the princely Indian State to accede to India. The submission of India in UNSC detailing the violence unleashed by the irregulars on the local population and infrastructure became the foundation upon which the “Jammu and Kashmir Question” was created at the UNSC.

The title was changed on January 22, 1948, to “The India-Pakistan Question”. From its origin till 1971, the topic featured prominently at the UNSC especially when both countries clashed.

Under Resolution 39 on January 20, 1948, the UNSC set up a three-member UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). The disagreement between India and Pakistan led to the first failure as the commission failed to materialise. The commission was finally reconstituted with five members on April 21, 1948, and it was mandated to plan a mechanism to ensure a plebiscite in the State. (This was part of the UNSC Resolution 47).

The UNSC Resolution 47 passed urged India and Pakistan to hold a plebiscite after the restoration of law and order. The UNCIP passed a resolution on January 5, 1949, that provided the mechanism for holding a “free and impartial plebiscite” in Kashmir.

Why the plebiscite plan didn’t materialise?

A key condition for the plebiscite was the withdrawal of Pakistan from the areas under its control and India withdrawing individuals who were not residents of the State. But Pakistan was not interested in withdrawal.

India took the Kashmir issue to the UN for “prompt and effective action” but the big powers ensured that the issue lingered on and became a part of the global concern on conflicts.

Shimla Agreement and Kashmir Issue

Under the Simla Agreement of July 2, 1972, India gained Pakistan’s commitment that the Kashmir conflict would be resolved bilaterally. But Pakistan continued to posture the issue as international conflict by hosting the Islamic Summit of 1974 where Pakistan began courting the Islamic world for its major foreign policy goals.

After the Simla AgreementPakistan proceeded to further entrench the territorial status quo as Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on November 7, 1973, ruled out an independent status for Azad Kashmir.

The Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir were territories of the princely Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir that were awaiting plebiscite. But the inability of Pakistan to act in accordance with the conditions of plebiscite led the proposal into cold storage.

Pakistan has even introduced the Gilgit Baltistan Order 2018, an executive order to begin the integration of Gilgit Baltistan into the federal structure of Pakistan and a step towards making it the country’s fifth province, akin to Punjab or Sindh.

Due to the politicization of issue and inability of the international community to act in a non-partisan manner the issue of Kashmir has turned into a triad of legal problem, political problem and regional security with no possible conclusion in near future.


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