I read a news headline a couple of days back that India braces up for Pakistan raising the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) issue at the United Nations (UN). I always wonder why India is sensitive to Pakistan raising the J&K issue at the UN or at any other international fora? Firstly as per the Independence of India Act (1935), further endorsed in the 1947 Act, it was the sovereign of the princely state, who was authorised to choose between India, Pakistan or to remain independent. Accordingly, Maharaja of J&K, Hari Singh chose to remain independent as he needed some more time to decide on the issue. He signed the ‘standstill agreement’ with Pakistan honouring the pre-independence commitments towards J&K. Pakistan violated the agreement no sooner the ink dried on the paper and assembled tribal militia led by the Pakistan Army junior commanders and officers under Maj Gen Akbar Khan to annex J&K. They invaded the independent state of J&K and Muslim troops of the King revolted against him and joined the invading forces. When the Maharaja appealed for help to India, we still did not render help in time asking him to sign the instrument of accession, which he ultimately signed on 26 October 1947. India lost a good five days allowing Pakistan to annihilate and loot Baramulla and advance right up to Srinagar just to remain ‘honourable’ in the eyes of world. It was sheer good luck for the Indians that when our troops landed at Srinagar the invaders were just short of the airfield. Had they reached it earlier, the whole of J&K would have been in the hands of Pakistan! One Battalion of the Sikh Regiment landed at Srinagar in the early morning of 27 October 1947; thus started the Indo-Pak war of 1947-48.
The Indians managed to evict the Pakistani troops from the outskirts of Srinagar; reoccupied Baramulla and Uri; recaptured Rajouri; and linked up with the besieged garrison of Poonch. They would have needed a month or two to liberate the entire J&K that was in the hands of Pakistan. India, again to establish its peace credentials and earn brownie points from the world community, complained to the UN against Pakistan and hence, the UN sponsored ceasefire came into being on 1 January 1949. This was the first time a winning power sought ceasefire! To make matters worse, we complained to the UN under Chapter 6 – Pacific settlement of Disputes – and not under Chapter 7 that deals with acts of aggression. Under the latter the UN is empowered to use force where required. By complaining under the wrong chapter we promoted an ‘invader’ into a ‘disputant’. The dispute remains unsolved to this day.
Now let us look at the ‘UN Resolution of 13 August 1948’ that brought about ceasefire on 1 January 1949 that is emphasised by Pakistan every time it raises the issue. The resolution has three parts: first, immediate ceasefire along the line held by the opposing troops; second, Pakistan to vacate its armed forces, tribes and nationals not belonging to J&K and India to keep minimum troops required for maintaining security of the state; and third, to hold a plebiscite.
The first objective was to have a ceasefire that was never implemented though there was a respite immediately after its announcement on and after 1 January 1949. With regard to the second the second part, would the Pakistan troops ever vacate the one-third of J&K, about 78,000 square kilometres, that they captured in 1947-48? As per the UN resolution all Pakistani security forces and their nationals not belonging to the state of J&K need to vacate the areas captured by them and the Indian armed forces need to provide security to the whole of J&K to enable implementation of part three – plebiscite. It was their reluctance to vacate that delayed the implementation of the UN Resolution since 1949. Again in 1965, Pakistan sent infiltrators to annex J&K under the infamous ‘Operation Gibraltar’ that failed! Pakistan thus violated the very same UN Resolution that it quotes. Whatever residual academic value the UN Resolution had was also lost after their failed invasion.
Further, in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, Pakistan faced their most humiliating defeat when East Pakistan was torn asunder and became Bangladesh. The Shimla Accord of July 1972 converted the Ceasefire Line into the Line of Control. Pakistan had agreed to resolve the issue between the two countries and the people of J&K were not stakeholders in the Accord. There was no mention of the UN Security Council Resolution in the Shimla Accord. India committed the biggest strategic blunder at Shimla by returning all the 93,000 Pakistani Prisoners of War without any concrete commitment from Pakistan. A golden opportunity to get back the whole of J&K in return for the prisoners was lost. India personified naivety at its best. A strategic victory ended in a diplomatic disaster.
We agree with Pakistan that the J&K issue needs to be resolved. There cannot be peace between the two countries till the issue is resolved. What needs to be resolved is handing over of entire J&K to India so that the people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), Northern Territory and Shaksgam Valley are freed from foreign yoke and the area becomes a part of India as per the Instrument of Accession.
China has also illegally occupied 35,555 square kilometres of Aksai Chin in Ladakh. On 14 November 1962 the Indian Parliament had passed a unanimous resolution that we would take back every inch of territory occupied by China. Does any Indian Parliamentarian remember it? If so what have they done about it?
Our country should not rest in peace till this issue is resolved. Our public at large should be thankful to Pakistan for reminding us time and again about this important issue that has remained unresolved. India again needs to thank China for carrying out incursions time and again to remind our people that India needs to recover her lost territory due to inept strategy. India should enhance her Comprehensive National Power and arm herself with political will, resolve and military capacity to take back her legitimate territory. Not one Indian text book in our schools covers this important aspect of our territorial losses suffered since Independence. We have to bank upon our adversaries to remind us about it. It was only Prime Minister Narasimha Rao who made the famous statement that the only thing unresolved with Pakistan is the return of POK to India.
Next time it is India, who needs to raise the issue of J&K, where we can say “an important bilateral issue between India and Pakistan needs to be resolved. Till, we are able to liberate POK from Pakistan we cannot rest in peace. The people of these regions are entitled to liberty, democracy and economic development as in India, as it is an integral part of our country. Once this issue is resolved we will have total peace with Pakistan”. I believe Pakistan will think twice before raising the J&K issue again!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are personal.