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'Kashmir struggle'

'Kashmir struggle'

Author: M.P. Bhandara, Rawalpindi
Publication: Dawn
Date: May 22, 2005
URL: http://www.dawn.com/2005/05/22/letted.htm#6

This refers to Mr Khalid Hasan's letter (May 16) in reply to mine (May 10). The gravamen of Mr Hasan's charge is that President Musharraf has conceded "on essentials to India on Kashmir without receiving any reciprocating gesture". Let us first examine this charge on legal merits.

UN resolutions are of two types. Resolutions passed under Chapter 7 are mandatory involving sanctions and those under Chapter 6 are not. Unfortunately, the UN resolutions on Kashmir do not indicate under which chapter the resolutions were passed.

Pakistan has all along stressed that the resolutions were passed under Chapter 7 because their substance provides for a detailed implementing mechanism and thus by implication has a binding character.

Unfortunately, this point of view has never been supported by any of permanent members of the Security Council, including China. Pakistan has not requested for a formal opinion from the office of the UN secretary-general on this issue; perhaps there is wisdom in not doing so.

Even assuming that the Kashmir resolutions were passed under Chapter 7, SC resolution 1172 has changed the legal matrix altogether. This 1998 resolution recommends that India and Pakistan should address the issue of Kashmir bilaterally. This resolution in effect endorses the mechanism provided by the Shimla Agreement followed by the Lahore and Islamabad declarations. Thus the SC has in effect altogether changed the character and remedies of the original resolutions.

The Pakistani public has been deliberately fed on a diet of half truths by our governments as regards the status of the UN resolutions. The original resolutions also called for the withdrawal of our troops from Azad Kashmir before a plebiscite could be held. We agreed to this condition but long after the horse had bolted from the stable.

Our undeclared policy since 1965 (Operation Gibraltar) up to Kargil was to front freedom-fighters. In the 1990s many of these fighters were loose guns. This misdirected, misconceived jihad was read as state-sponsored terrorism by the world community. Pakistan's jihadi option of the 1990s virtually destroyed our Kashmir case. Even the veteran Sardar Qayyum, supreme head of the Muslim Conference, in a recent interview declared: "Jihad has become a business. In fact, the worst damage to the Kashmir cause has been caused by the Jihadis ... Jihad has no future."

I shall take Mr Hasan's word that Mahatma Gandhi visited Srinagar on August 1, 1947 to advise the ruler to remove his pro- independence prime minister. It is a measure of this great man that in the last days of his life seeing the obtaining facts, he made more than a dozen statements advocating a settlement in accordance with the wishes of the people. It is for this reason he declared a few days before his assassination: "I have been severely reprimanded for what I said concerning Kashmir." His assassin Nathu Ram Godse, inter alia, cited Gandhi's Kashmir statements in his non-defence in court.

Mr Hasan refers to my reflections on a visit to Srinagar as a more or less a "rosy eyed account". Perhaps he should read the article again. I have described Srinagar as city under siege with "broken people" as inhabitants. Is it not a case of Mr hasan seeing the Kashmir dispute through the rosy-coloured spectacles of yesterday's jihad?

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