Huzaima Bukhari, Dr. Ikramul Haq & Abdul Rauf Shakoori
Today, the conflict over Kashmir between India and Pakistan is more than seven decades old with both neighboring countries bearing heavy costs of this long unresolved issue. Fact of the matter is that wars have been detrimental for mankind being nothing less than man-made catastrophes due to which millions of people have lost their lives and economies around the world wrecked to the core. The United Nation’s Security Council (UNSC) has the noble responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, being authorized to convene at any time, whenever there is a threat to peace. In such an event all member states are obligated under the United Nations Charter to abide by the Security Council’s pronouncements. The UNSC has 15 members out of which five namely, China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States are permanent members whereas the remaining 10 are elected by the General Assembly for a two years’ term.
The UNSC is chartered to operate in a pragmatic way where in case of threat of a conflict it first explores avenues to settle the dispute peacefully by talks, appointment of special representatives, or request the UN Secretary-General for mediation etc. Over the years, UNSC has gathered sufficient prowess that can resolve disputes in an amicable way and avoid military interventions. This includes imposing arms embargo, travel restrictions, putting curbs on financial systems and banks, etc. However, in some cases, where the situation warrants and UNSC permits it can also authorize military force as a last resort when all possible peaceful means have been exhausted by a coalition of member states or by a regional arrangement.
After its independence, Pakistan joined the United Nations in September, 1947 committing itself to the objective of maintaining global peace. Pakistan has made significant contributions as a member of the Security Council and has decades’ long history with UN being one of the largest contributors of troops and police in peacekeeping initiatives where over 200,000 personnel have honorably served in 46 UN Missions across almost all the continents. Similarly, Pakistan’s contribution in war against terrorism is unparalleled having offered maximum facilitation and support to the international community to fight this scourge.
The Kashmir issue has been the epicenter of Pakistan’s diplomacy, since the very first day of its existence. The United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan on 5 January, 1949 resolved that the question of accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to India or Pakistan would be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite. Pakistan has long been advocating for resolution of Kashmir dispute on the basis of Resolutions adopted by the Security Council. This principled position lies at the heart of our foreign policy and raised at all forums, supporting the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir to decide their future.
On the contrary, India has been shying away from impartial plebiscite to be conducted under the patronage of the United Nations. Not only has India continuously violated the terms of UNSC resolution but in August 2019, it decided to do away with article 370 of its constitution. This article was introduced in the Indian Constitution in 1949 that extended a special status to the state of J&K. Under article 370, Indian government was restrained from enacting laws for the state allowing J&K to have its own constitution, its own flag and make its own decisions on all matters except defence and foreign affairs.
Abolishment of article 370 was in contravention of UN resolution being prejudicial to rights of people of J&K and Pakistan. On the part of India this was a gross violation of human rights. Pakistan has been making continuous efforts to apprise the world about the draconian laws and approach adopted by India in occupied Kashmir and reminding the United Nations of its responsibility to speak out against these violations, drawing attention to UNSCR 38, which calls upon respective parties i.e. Pakistan and India, ‘to inform the Council immediately of any material change in the situation which occurs or appears to either of them to be about to occur while the matter is under consideration by the Council, and consult with the Council thereon’.
On India’s reluctance to follow UN resolution and on changing the status of Kashmir, UNSC’s silence poses a question mark on the credibility of this powerful institution. India has all along been blaming Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism and recently Indian minister for external affairs in New York again levelled the same allegation. However, Pakistan’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto’s response with facts has triggered a new debate. He explained to the world that his country was a victim of terrorism where his mother was assassinated while present Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, then Chief Minister of Punjab, lost his minister for internal affairs, in terrorist attacks. Undoubtedly, Pakistan being frontline ally suffered economic losses to the tune of over US$ 150 billion since 9/11 and death of eighty thousand civilians and law enforcement personnel. Bilawal insisted that the world must recognize our sacrifices and should cooperate with us in dealing with this issue. He also highlighted Indian Prime Minister Modi’s involvement in killing Muslims in Gujarat when he was Chief Minister and his role in the killings of innocent civilians in Kashmir.
The UNO should understand the sensitivity and the importance of the unresolved issue of Kashmir. Mere holding of meetings and passing of resolution are not serving any purpose for which there is a need to come up with solid solutions. Global peace is subject to the peaceful resolution of J&K otherwise, just one wrong move can be detrimental for international peace efforts.
Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq, lawyers and partners of Huzaima, Ikram & Ijaz, are Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), members Advisory Board and Visiting Senior Fellows of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE).
Abdul Rauf Shakoori is a corporate lawyer based in the USA and an expert in ‘White Collar Crimes and Sanctions Compliance’. They have coauthored a book, Pakistan Tackling FATF: Challenges and Solutions