Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Resolution of Kashmir Issue Guarantees Peace
in South Asia
By Ghulam Nabi Fai
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 15, 2010
The Kashmir question is one of the oldest unresolved international
disputes in the world. The issue has been pending on the agenda of the
Security Council since 1948. At that point, an agreement took place between
India and Pakistan, endorsed by the United Nations that guaranteeing the
right to self-determination to the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The people of
Kashmir who have never lost hope in the United Nations have since that date
sought to freely exercise their right to self-determination. India, however,
was soon undeceived of its delusions over Kashmir's political yearning.
Recognizing that its people would never freely vote accession to India, it
contrived excuse after excuse to frustrate a plebiscite. India's
proclamation has never been accepted by the United Nations, which continues
to list Kashmir as a disputed territory.
President Barack Obama
confirmed that opinion in New Delhi on November 8, 2010 when he said that
Kashmir, obviously is a long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan. He
also said that both Pakistan and India have an interest in reducing tensions
between the two countries.
The Kashmir dispute primarily involves
the life and future of 16 million people of the land. Because of its impact
on relations between India and Pakistan, however, it directly affects the
peace and stability of the South Asian subcontinent. This is a region which
contains one-fifth of the total human race.
The experience of nearly
six decades has shown that the dispute will not go away and that an effort
is urgently required to resolve the dispute on a durable basis. It is
imperative that real populations with a pronounced sense of identity of
their own, with their suffering and their aspirations rather than just legal
title and merit are involved.
Kashmir is the Gordian knot of peace
and prosperity in South Asia. A just and final resolution of its sovereignty
in accord with the wishes of the people of Jammu & Kashmir is of utmost
regional and international importance. Kashmir is the most densely soldiered
and most nuclear combustible territory on the planet. It stands apart as the
most cantankerous of conflicts, with the catastrophic possibility of nuclear
devastation. After all India and Pakistan have fought three wars and nearly
began a fourth with the ever-present threat of nuclear exchange.
persistence of this problem has been a source of weakness for both India and
Pakistan. It has diminished both these neighboring countries. This has been
a fact in the last century and it is underlined by the unfolding environment
of the twenty-first century. The world powers draw great satisfaction from
India’s striking economic progress which will enable India to play its
rightful role as a great power. But a great power cannot afford disputed
boundaries if it wishes to maintain or enhance its prestige and influence.
The lesson of history -- both old and new--is that peace is impossible
if a people or nation is treated as a negotiable pawn by big powers. The
most harrowing example is appeasement of Hitler at the expense of the
Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia. In more recent times, East Timor remained
convulsed for 27 years after its illegal occupation by Indonesia until
self-determination was accepted in 1999. The recent peaceful processions of
more than 1 million people testify that the people of Kashmir covet their
freedom and sovereignty no less intently.
Kashmir is not beyond a
solution if all involved parties make concessions: Pakistan, India, and
Kashmiris. The next step is not to craft a solution, but to set the stage
for crafting a solution. Key to that objective is an appointment of a person
of international standing like Bishop Desmond Tutu by the United Nations.
The grave situation in Kashmir demands that it could be brought to the
attention of the Security Council. Whether this could be done successfully
depends on the attitude and policies of the permanent members, but they
should be left in no doubt that any failure to resolve the problem could
lead to serious disorders throughout the South Asian Subcontinent and
possibly to yet another war between India and Pakistan, with incalculable
consequences for the whole world, since both states now have nuclear
The question arises what should be the point of
departure for determining a just and lasting basis? The answer obviously is
(a) the Charter of the United Nations which, in its very first Article,
speaks of ‘respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination
of peoples’ and (b) the international agreements between the parties to the
dispute at the Security Council.