Indian action in Jammu and Kashmir and option of Azad Kashmir forces

Government of India has taken two main actions on 5 August and 31 October 2019 against the habitat and the people placed under her temporary administration. We seem to have overplayed (as a genuine concern) the action of 5 August 2019 of placing the people under curfew and disconnecting them from rest of the world and have missed the severity of the second action of 31 October 2019, when India dismembered the State into Union Territories, annexed them with the Union of India and decided to savage the politics, history, culture and demography of Kashmir for the first time in the last 174 years of the struggle of the people.

Curfews have remained a regular feature in the lives of the people. But the action of 31 October 2019, is unprecedented. India has turned her back on the work carried out under UNCIP resolutions of 13 August 1948, which laid down three stages in the settlement of the dispute: cessation of hostilities, organization of the truce by demilitarization of all the territories concerned, and organization of the plebiscite. It has turned her back on its bilateral and multi-lateral engagements with Pakistan, on the agreed solution of the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir.

The issue is not the CURFEW but the DISMEMEBERMENT of the State and breaking the pledge made at the 242nd meeting of the Security Council held on 6 February 1948, when the Indian representative reiterated, “What India had said : was, Kashmir offered her accession at a time of peril to her, and we shall not hold her to this offer. We shall accept it now, but shall leave it to her and her people to change their minds and ask to withdraw from the accession to India and to accede to Pakistan or remain independent. If Kashmir does change her mind, then we commit ourselves to the position that we shall give our consent to her withdrawal from accession to India. That, in effect, is the position involved.”

The Government, its various departments, mainly the foreign office, Kashmir Committee, Parliament, Army and the people of Pakistan, have been addressing the loss of liberty and length of curfew. The second most important action of a ‘near war’ against people of Kashmir and Pakistan somehow has not received the due attention. It has not been explained to people at home and the United Nations, which continues to supervise the cease fire line since January 1949.

We have a response from the Government of Pakistan. Prime Minister of Pakistan has made a very strong case against the fascist agenda of RSS and has very ably stripped Modi nude of all his assumed ‘dignity’ as head of a democratic State. It has been done with method and deep passion as a leader. However, his two visits to Muzaffarabad and Mirpur and advice to Azad Kashmir Government and the Hurriet to sit with foreign office and come up with recommendations, may not be the perfect answer.

We need to revert back to UN Security Council and seek remedies as provided under the UN Package on Kashmir and UN Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir

Azad Kashmir Government should have a plan, ever ready, for any such situations. If not it has to burn mid-night oil for an emergency plan. In addition Hurriet in Pakistan does not represent the character and style, listed in the Hurriet Constitution adopted on 31 July 1993. It was a united alliance at one point and had brought India on her knees. Unfortunately, it did not have any arrangement for any expert and non-party inputs at any point in its history. All Hurriet representatives in Pakistan have remained engaged in the struggle in one form or the other, but all of them may not be tailored to come up with an answer to the challenge. Hurriet Pakistan chapter has the Hurriet Constitution as a guide and would need to reach out to experts, Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri, living in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan and all over the world for a counter strategy.

It is a good advice and the constituent elements in the struggle and the experts shall have to keep on engagement and structuring a policy. But we may still be holding the lamp upside down. We shall have to revert back to remedial measures approved at the United Nations. The UN Security Council involvement of August 2019 and January 2020, is a good beginning.

We need to revert back to UN Security Council and seek remedies as provided under the UN Package on Kashmir and UN Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir. Government of Pakistan shall have to inform the United Nations that Government of Azad Kashmir, has decided to re-organise the Azad Kashmir Forces, which according to Indian statement made at the 234th meeting of UN Security Council held on 23 January 1948, were 65,000 soldiers and according to the statement made by Pakistan at the 235th meeting of the Security Council held on 24 January 1948 were between 60,000 to 70,000 in number. These soldiers had fought on the side of the United Nations during the war.

According to Document III submitted by the Government of Pakistan at the UN Security Council as “Particulars of Pakistan’s Case” in reply to Indian petition to UN on the question of Kashmir, Pakistan has admitted that 65,000 soldiers from Poonch (Azad Kashmir) fought for the United Nations during the II World War. Pakistan has stated “The Azad Kashmir forces are almost wholly composed of the sons of the soil, and even foreign observers have testified that, wherever they have gone, they have been welcomed as forces of liberation. We are ready to exercise aIl our influence on the Azad Kashmir forces to stop fighting and to see that any tribesmen with them are not only stopped from fighting, but are made to leave Kashmir. These tribesmen, it should be remembered, are the kith and kin of those for whom they are fighting.” The 31 October 2019 action by India, sets Pakistan free of all its pledges of restraint on Azad Kashmir Forces.

Government of India has reneged on her statement made at the 533 meeting of UN Security Council held on 1 March 1951, informing the United Nations, that “Para31.In connexion with the last recommendation I may mention that India has already reduced its forces by 20 to 25 percent, without waiting for any corresponding reduction by Pakistan. May I point out that under the resolutions of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan adopted in August 1948 and January1949, which both parties accepted, it was for Pakistan to begin to withdraw its army first and only thereafter was India to begin to reduce its own forces. Nevertheless, as l have said India has begun the process without waiting for Pakistan, and India is prepared to continue the process if Pakistan, on its part, will withdraw its army from the State.”Pakistan has to help Azad Kashmir in re-organizing Azad Forces and inform the UN Security Council accordingly.

The writer is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations