Here is a piece of history by Dr. Nyla Ali Khan, a Kashmiri scholar at the Oklahoma University, that raises pertinent questions about the willingness of both Pakistan and India to resolve the Kashmir dispute, amicably, bilaterally under the UN Resolutions. The policymakers need to evaluate the available options and understand the situation keeping in view the Kashmiri people’s aspirations, fears and reservations.

In the interests of expediency, the UNCIP appointed a single mediator, Sir Owen Dixon, the United Nations representative for India and Pakistan, Australian jurist and wartime ambassador to the United States, to efficiently resolve the Kashmir conflict. Dixon noted, in 1950, that the Kashmir issue was so tumultuous because Kashmir was not a holistic geographic, economic, or demographic entity, but, on the contrary, an aggregate of diverse territories brought under the rule of one maharaja. In a further attempt to resolve the conflict, Sir Owen Dixon propounded the trifurcation of the state along communal or regional lines, or facilitating the secession of parts of the Jhelum Valley to Pakistan.

Despite the bombastic statements of the governments of both India and Pakistan, however, the Indian government has all along perceived the inclusion of Pakistani-administered J & K and the Northern Areas into India as unfeasible. Likewise, the government of Pakistan has all along either implicitly or explicitly acknowledged the impracticality of including the predominantly Buddhist Ladakh and predominantly Hindu Jammu as part of Pakistan. The coveted area that continues to generate irreconcilable differences between the two governments is the Valley of Kashmir.

Dixon lamented: “None of these suggestions commended themselves to the Prime Minister of India. In the end, I became convinced that India’s agreement would never be obtained to demilitarization in any such form, or to provisions governing the period of the plebiscite of any such character, as would in my opinion permit the plebiscite being conducted in conditions sufficiently guarding against intimidation and other forms of influence and abuse by which the freedom and fairness of the plebiscite might be imperiled.” (The Statesman, 15 September 1950).

Sir Owen Dixon nonetheless remained determined to formulate a viable solution to the Kashmir issue and suggested that a plebiscite be held only in the Kashmir Valley subsequent to its demilitarization, which would be conducted by an administrative body of UN officials. This proposal was rejected by Pakistan, which, however, reluctantly agreed to Sir Dixon’s further suggestion that the prime ministers of the two countries meet with him to discuss the viability of various solutions to the Kashmir dispute. But India decried this suggestion. A defeated man, Sir Dixon finally left the Indian subcontinent on 23 August 1950.

There seemed to be an inexplicable reluctance on both sides, India and Pakistan, to solve the Kashmir dispute diplomatically and amicably. Sir Dixon’s concluding recommendation was a bilateral resolution of the dispute with India and Pakistan as the responsible parties, without taking into account the ability of the representatives of the people of J&K to be the architects of their political future. Is this the anachronistic policy being toed by the governments of India and Pakistan in 2015?

What Pakistan needs to do is to exploit effectively and forcefully the rebutting of the Indian claim of Occupied Kashmir being part of India, by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court that has recently ruled that the State has never been part of India. “Article 370 of Indian constitution that deals with the status of Jammu and Kashmir is beyond abrogation, repeal or even amendment,” the high court said in its ruling the other day. “Article 35A gives ‘protection’ to existing laws in force in the State. Article 370 though titled as ‘Temporary Provision’ and included in Para XXI titled ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’ has assumed place of permanence in the Constitution,” a division bench of Justice Hasnain Masoodi and Janak Raj Kotwal ruled in a 60-page judgement. “It is beyond amendment, repeal or abrogation, in as much as Constituent Assembly of the State before its dissolution did not recommend its Amendment or repeal,” the bench ruled.

The decision has been highly welcomed by the local parties and political figures representing the major population, Muslims. Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) President and Awami Muthida Mahaz (AMM) leader Hakim Mohammad Yasin welcomed the landmark judgment. They said, “Now the challenge for Jammu and Kashmir government is to further strengthen Article 370. According to the ruling, the Article 370 is a permanent provision of the Constitution and it cannot be abrogated, repealed or even amended. “It is a welcome decision.

One remembers the words of Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, who, on the eve of Golden Jubilee of 6 September war of 1965, said in his speech: “Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of the subcontinent’s partition. The people of Indian occupied Kashmir are being subjected to Indian injustice and atrocities for over the last seven decades. Enduring peace in the region is not possible without just resolution of Kashmir, it can be no longer put on the back burner. Therefore, time has come that Kashmir issue should be resolved in line with the aspirations of its people in accordance with UN resolutions.”

FAUZIA SARDAR NIAZI,

Islamabad, November 12.