December 2003 News

Musharraf's Offer: Don't Read Too Much Into It

22 December 2003
The Times of India

New Delhi: Just how significant is Musharraf's now-on, now-off proposal to set aside the UN resolutions as a means of settling the Kashmir issue? From a realistic point of view, not very. But very important for the General's constituency - separatist Kashmiris and Pakistanis - whose selective reading of history has given rise to the hype about the UN resolutions. For the record, the resolutions arose because it was India , not Pakistan , that took the Kashmir case to the UN. Essentially they called for a ceasefire to be followed by a withdrawal of Pakistani forces and irregulars from the state. This would be followed by Indian troops being thinned, but not removed. This would be followed by a plebiscite, conducted by the UN with the assistance of the Kashmir government then headed by Sheikh Abdullah. The problem with the resolutions was their basic flaw: India had already promised a plebiscite, that too under international auspices before going to the UN. What it sought from the UN was to get Pakistan to end its aggression. But biased British officials carefully manipulated their US counterparts and other members of the Security Council to set aside the main Indian demand to focus on something India had already conceded. This left the legal accession of J&K to India on the backburner. Since both India and Pakistan were created by a British award, India expected the UN to uphold it in all its terms, including the unfettered right of princely states to join either of the dominions. The record shows India was not particularly keen to have Kashmir accede to India and it actually took the Pakistani invasion to push Maharaja Hari Singh to accede to anyone at all. Pakistan blew its own case. In October 1947, Pakistan denied its forces were in Kashmir and maintained it had done everything possible to block the tribal raiders. On the eve of the arrival of the first UN mission to the region, in May 1948, Pakistan disclosed that its troops were indeed in Kashmir . Yet, the UN chose to do nothing. The UN made considerable efforts over the next 10 years, till 1958, to implement the proposals. By this time, the Cold War had made the Anglo-American bias more pronounced, so they did not get anywhere. The problem was sum-med up by Gunnar Jarring of Sweden in a report after an effort to mediate in April 1957: 'The Security Council will that the implementation of international agreements of an ad hoc character, which has not been achieved fairly speedily, may become more difficult because the situation with which they were to cope with has tended to change.'


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