RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- KASHMIR- NO THIRD PARTY
An influential Democratic Congressman on Tuesday apologised to India’s US envoy for President Donald Trump’s “embarrassing” remarks on Kashmir, while several others came out in support of New Delhi’s stand against any third-party role on the issue. “I just apologised to Indian Ambassador Harsh Shringla for Trump’s amateurish and embarrassing mistake,” Congressman Brad Sherman tweeted hours after Donald Trump’s stunning claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought his mediation or arbitration efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue. India was quick to reject Donald Trump’s claims. For the past 70 years, India has consistently resisted any third-party mediation proposal, and for over a decade now, the US has been reiterating that Kashmir is a bilateral issue. In a joint statement, Congressman George Holding and Congressman Brad Sherman, who are Co-Chairs of Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, asserted that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan
Timeline: (topic has been covered holistically as per the needs)
1947 (15 Aug): The partition of India: The British Indian Empire is dissolved and the Muslim-majority areas in the East and West are partitioned to form the separate state of Pakistan.
1947: Kashmir signs the Standstill Agreement with Pakistan. The Maharaja delays his decision to accede into either India or Pakistan.
1947 (Oct): Indo-Pakistani War of 1947: Thousands of Pashtuns from Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province attack Kashmir and the Maharaja’s forces. The Maharaja ask India for help, who abides under the conditions that he relinquish control over defense, communication and foreign affairs to India. The Maharaja agrees and signs the Instrument of Accession.
The Indian Army enters the state to repel the invaders. Sheikh Abdullah endorses the accession as ad-hoc which would be ultimately decided by a plebiscite and is appointed head of the emergency administration.
1948: India takes the Kashmir problem to the UN Security Council. The resolution orders the cessation of hostilities and a formulation of a truce agreement, and that a plebiscite should determine the future of Jammu and Kashmir. However, both countries cannot agree on the terms of demilitarisation.
1949: On 1 January, the ceasefire between Indian and Pakistani forces leaves India in control of most of the valley, as well as Jammu and Ladakh, while Pakistan gains control of part of Kashmir including, what Pakistan calls, Azad Kashmir and Northern territories.
1950 (Jan): India gains independence and becomes a republic.
1957: India’s Home Minister declares that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is a fundamental part of India and there can be no question of a plebiscite. Kashmiri activists continue to insist on self-determination.
1963 (Dec): Mass uprisings occur in the Kashmir Valley and protests occur against Articles 356 and 357 of the Indian Constitution, by which the Indian government can exercise legislative powers. The Indian army attacks the protesters.
1965: Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. Pakistan backs rebel groups in Kashmir and sends armed Pakistani infiltrators to join them across the ceasefire line, which leads to more violence across the whole of the Kashmir Valley.
1966: Kashmiri nationalists form another Plebiscite Front with an armed wing called the Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Front (NLF) in Azad Kashmir, with the objective of freeing Kashmir from Indian occupation.
1971: The Indo-Pakistan War of 1971: Pakistan descends into civil war after East Pakistan demands autonomy and later independence of what will become Bangladesh.
1972: India and Pakistan agree to a ceasefire, and sign the Simla Agreement, which states that they will respect the Line of Control, the border between the two countries and China. However, fighting continues along this line, making it one of the most violent and dangerous border lines in the world.
1987-1990: Kashmir Insurgency: After the 1987 elections the Muslim United Front (MUF) declares the elections as rigged, and the insurgency in the valley increases. The MUF candidate later breaks away to become head of the militant group Hizb-ul-Mujahedin. Further protests and anti-India demonstrations in the Kashmir Valley followed by police retaliation, arrests and curfew orders by the Indian police and army.
1989: At the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan a great deal of weapons are released into Kashmir and Pakistan provides further training to Kashmiri and foreign militant groups in Kashmir. The Kashmiri independence movement becomes more Islamist in its ideology.
1990 (1 Mar): An estimated one million people take to the streets in protest of the Indian occupation and more than 40 people are killed by the police. This is seen by many as the beginning of a massive Kashmiri uprising, but India claims that it is orchestrated by Pakistani trained operatives. Many of the 162,500 Hindu community in Kashmir flee the area to refugee camps in Jammu.
The main opinions of India, Pakistan, and Kashmiris can be summarised as follows:
- India claims that as the Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession in October 1947, handing control of the Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir over to India, the region is theirs, having been validated by the Indian Independence Act and the departing British Empire.
- India claims that the UN Resolution 1172 in 1948 accepted India’s stand regarding all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan.
- India claims that Pakistan has not removed its military forces, which India views as one of the first steps in implementing a resolution.
- India accused Pakistan of funding military groups in the region to create instability, and accuses Pakistan of waging a proxy war.
- India accuses Pakistan of spreading anti-India sentiment among the people of Kashmir, through the media, to alter Kashmiri opinion.
- According to India, most regions of Pakistani Kashmir, especially northern areas, continue to suffer from lack of political recognition, economic development and basic fundamental rights.
- Pakistan claims that according to the two-nation theory Kashmir should have been with Pakistan, because it has a Muslim majority.
- Pakistan argues that India has shown disregard to the resolutions of the UN Security Council, and the United Nations Commission in India and Pakistan, by failing to hold a plebiscite.
- Pakistan rejects Indian claims to Kashmir, centring around the Instrument of Accession. Pakistan insists that the Maharaja did not have the support of most Kashmiris. Pakistan also claims that the Maharaja handed over control of Jammu and Kashmir under duress, thus invalidating the legitimacy of the claims.
- Pakistan claims that India violated the Standstill Agreement and that Indian troops were already in Kashmir before the Instrument of Accession was signed.
- Pakistan claims that between 1990-1999 the Indian Armed Forces, its paramilitary groups, and counter-insurgent militias have been responsible for the deaths of 4,501 Kashmiri civilians. Also from 1990 to 1999, there are records of 4,242 women between the ages of 7-70 that have been raped. Similar allegations were also made by some human rights organisations.
- Pakistan claims that the Kashmiri uprising demonstrates that the people of Kashmir no longer wish to remain part of India. Pakistan suggests that this means that either Kashmir wants to be with Pakistan or independent.
- It is difficult to assess Kashmiri public opinion, and the region contains supporters of various different solutions to the conflict. Alongside those who align more closely to either the Pakistani or Indian government views, there are also those who favour independence for Kashmir. According to one survey of Kashmiri public opinion:
- 43% of the total adult population want complete independence for Kashmir.
- 1% of Azad Kashmir (in Pakistan-administered Kashmir) want to join India compared to 28% in Jammu and Kashmir (in Indian-administered Kashmir).
- 50% of Azad Kashmir want to join Pakistan compared to 2% in Jammu and Kashmir.
- 14% of the total population want to make the Line of Control a permanent border.
- The All Parties Hurriyat Conference represent the main separatist movement in Kashmir. However, it has multiple branches, each holding differing views on how Kashmir should proceed independently, which is indicative of the vast array of opinions that exist across the territory.
- Whether it be due to religion or region, Kashmir is not a unified voice on the matter of its future. Apart from the unending call for democracy and human rights standards, Kashmiris differ in their opinions all over the territory, and this must be taken into account when discussing solutions.
Donald Trump’s offer to help India and Pakistan resolve the Kashmir issue has snowballed into a major controversy after India refuted the US President’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a request in this regard.
India has reiterated its longstanding position that there is no room for mediation in Kashmir or on any other India-Pakistan issue and that all outstanding matters between the two countries would be resolved through bilateral dialogue — but only when Pakistan ends cross-border terrorism in India.
What is Simla Agreement and why was it signed?
The Simla Agreement was signed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on 2 July 1972, following a full-blown war between India and Pakistan in 1971.
The Simla Agreement was “much more than a peace treaty seeking to reverse the consequences of the 1971 war (i.e. to bring about withdrawals of troops and an exchange of PoWs).” It was a comprehensive blue print for good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan.
Under the Simla Agreement both countries undertook to abjure conflict and confrontation which had marred relations in the past, and to work towards the establishment of durable peace, friendship and cooperation.
The two countries not only agreed to put an end to “conflict and confrontation” but also work for the “promotion of a friendly and harmonious relationship and the establishment of durable peace in the sub-continent, so that both countries may henceforth devote their resources and energies to the pressing talk of advancing the welfare of their peoples.”
How was this to be achieved?
- In order to achieve this objective, both the governments agreed that that the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations would govern bilateral relations and differences would be resolved by “peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them.”
- Regarding Jammu and Kashmir, the two sides had agreed that the line of control “resulting from the cease-fire of December 17, 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this Line.”
- Both governments had also agreed that their respective Heads would meet again at a “mutually convenient time in the future the representatives of the two sides will meet to discuss further the modalities and arrangements for the establishment of durable peace and normalization of relations, including the questions of repatriation of prisoners of war and civilian internees, a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir and the resumption of diplomatic relations.”
India had three primary objectives at Shimla:
- First, a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue or, failing that, an agreement that would constrain Pakistan from involving third parties in discussions about the future of Kashmir.
- Second, it was hoped that the Agreement would allow for a new beginning in relations with Pakistan based upon Pakistan’s acceptance of the new balance of power.
- Third, it left open the possibility of achieving both these objectives without pushing Pakistan to the wall and creating a revanchist anti-India regime.
What prompted Trump to make such a statement?
- Trump wants to project himself as a perfect mediator.
- He has a sort of offering himself as a solution.
- Desire to win noble peace prize.
- Project himself as a great peace maker.
How can the issue be resolved?
- Poltical will is needed.
- All stateholder wrt to the issue need to come together.
- India should come up with clear cut objective.
- UN refuses to formally declare Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’
- Pakistan’s military, identified as anti-India elemental force in Pakistan, remains opposed to any understanding with India
- Rising influence of radical extremist ideas and ideologies inside Pakistan.
- Terrorism emanating from Pakistan remains a major concern for India as the many efforts made to normalise ties with Pakistan have not yielded any results.
- The two biggest challenges facing India today are Pakistan and China.
- Other geo-political challenges to India include the uncertainty around the incoming Donald Trumpled US administration’s policies vis-a-vis China, Pakistan and India.
- The present crisis has the potential to stall the relations in Trade, Commerce, media, films, people to people contact, etc. in future.
- It is time to define the nature and scope of our conflict with Pakistan with the government having a huge mandate.
- As the dominant power in South Asia and one of the world’s leading democracies, India must find a proper answer to what could otherwise become a serious existential crisis.
- Imposing economic and political sanctions on Pakistan and asking the world to follow suit.
- Creating International pressure on Pakistan to curb state sponsored terror.
- India need to establish a national security doctrine in order to deal with all security issues.
- There is a strong need for India to change its approach from Responsive to Proactive
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