Malik Muhammad Ashraf

Pakistan and India have fought four wars since independence and three of them are over Kashmir – an unfinished agenda of the partition. The 1965 war between the two countries was arguably the best moment in our national history from two perspectives. One was the universally acknowledged valour and determination with which our armed forces fought the four times bigger enemy and thwarted its nefarious design to capture Lahore and other cities of Pakistan and the other was an unprecedented and impregnable national unity with which the nation backed the war effort.

The biggest tank battle in the Military history of the world at Chawinda must still be haunting the memories of those Indian Military leaders who planned and executed that blitzkrieg. The outcome of this military confrontation between the two arch enemies can best be judged by a report compiled by the Indian Defence Ministry in 1992 and revealed by The Times of India. The paper contented that the contemporary accounts, generated by a jingoistic press, saw the war as a spectacular victory on almost every front. But the truth ---which cannot be hidden despite the best efforts of the official historians---, is that the war was, in the words of one of India’s most distinguished commanders, Lt.Gen Harbakhsh Singh “a catalogue of lost victories”.

Since then September 6 is commemorated as Defence Day of Pakistan every year---and rightly so—to pay tribute to our heroes who sacrificed their lives for the motherland and also to revive and rejuvenate the same spirit among our soldiers and the nation with which they faced the enemy together. The best homage to our martyrs however would be for us as a nation to renew our pledge not to allow their sacrifices to go unrewarded and to strive with a renewed vigour and determination to achieve the objective for which they laid down their lives. The commemorations of Defence Day will be meaningless without an explicit resolve of the nation to equip our armed forces with the best of the conventional weapons and maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent. Pakistan does not harbour aggressive designs against any country but has the right to safeguard its own security by all means. A strong and stable Pakistan is also a guarantee for the regional peace.

Military confrontations cannot resolve contentious issues on permanent basis. The solution ultimately comes through negotiations on the table. Pakistan is also desirous of finding a peaceful solution to the Kashmir tangle through peaceful means in conformity with the UN resolutions on the subject. Since the signing of Simla Agreement the two countries have had innumerable rounds of talks on the issue but these on and off dialogues have failed to make any tangible headway. The present government deserves credit for reviving the stalled talks on CBMs which would be welcomed by all the peace loving elements. This initiative must be given a chance with honesty of purpose. But if the history is any guide, one cannot be over optimistic about the prospects of its success in resolving the core issue of Kashmir. India has always tried to put the issue on the back burner by focusing on the peripheral issues in these parleys while Pakistan has invariably insisted on focusing attention on the main issue. The problem can be resolved either through mediation by a power like US or through the re-invoked involvement of the UN. US does not seem interested in any kind of mediation, therefore, the only option left for Pakistan, in case the dialogue fails to obtain concrete results, is to go back to the UN.

In regards to the UN resolution on Kashmir it is relevant to point out that in the wake of the war that broke out between the two countries after the landing of Indian forces in Kashmir, it was India who took the matter to the United Nations. The UN during the course of its deliberations on the subject passed twenty three resolutions, including two UNICEP resolutions of 13 August 1948 and 5th January 1949 calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir under the auspices of United Nations. It is quite evident that like the supposed instrument of accession and the partition plan, the UN resolutions also vividly recognised the right of the people to decide their own future through a process of self-determination.

It is also pertinent to mention that the UN through its resolutions 91 and 122 also repudiated Indian stance that the issue of accession of Kashmir had been resolved by the constituent assembly of Kashmir. These resolutions reiterated that the question of accession could not be resolved by any means other than enunciated in the UN resolutions on the subject. This proves beyond any doubt that the Indian claims of Kashmir being an integral part of India represents travesty of the facts and lack any legal basis.

Indian stance that after the signing of Simla Agreement Pakistan cannot internationalise the Kashmir issue is totally wrong. Article 103 of UN Charter says " In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the members of the UN under the present charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present charter will prevail" What it means is that the UN resolutions on Kashmir will take precedence over all other international agreements on the same issue. So Pakistan is very much within its right to invoke UN resolutions, after having been frustrated to find solution through the bilateral arrangement. The UN resolutions on Kashmir adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter remain legally binding on the parties. Article 25 also reiterates their obligatory nature. The Security Council under the UN Charter has the power to enforce its decisions and resolutions militarily or by any other means necessary; the powers that it has used during the Korean War in 1950, in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. It is abundantly clear from the foregoing that the legal status and obligations of the parties to the dispute under UN resolutions and that of the Security Council to have its resolutions implemented remain unaffected.n