The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is one of the oldest unresolved issues on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council. At the heart of the dispute is India’s illegal occupation and persistent refusal to allow the people of Kashmir to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.
Several resolutions of the Security Council have called for the final status of Jammu and Kashmir to be determined through a free and fair plebiscite under the auspices of the UN. This was agreed on by both India and Pakistan and remains the only legal basis for a resolution of the dispute. The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, declared on Aug. 8, 2019, that the Jammu and Kashmir issue should be resolved on the basis of the UN Charter and the Security Council resolutions.
People of Jammu and Kashmir launched a struggle even before partition to free themselves from the tyrannical rule of the Hindu Maharaja. As early as 1933, when the word “Pakistan” was proposed, the letter “K” in it represented Kashmir. At the time of partition in August 1947, Kashmiris legitimately expected that they would join Pakistan.
However, during the partition process, India, with the Hindu ruler of Jammu and Kashmir state, engineered an alleged “accession” against the wishes of its people and dispatched thousands of troops to occupy the state. This act violated international law, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 and the so-called “standstill agreement” that Pakistan had signed with Kashmir’s Maharaja, legally prohibiting him from acting unilaterally on accession.
On Aug. 5, 2019, India unilaterally and illegally revoked the “special” and “autonomous” status of Jammu and Kashmir, which according to India itself, was stipulated in the so-called “accession” document by Kashmir’s Maharaja. By revoking this status, India removed the only legal argument it had to justify its occupation of Jammu and Kashmir.
Several Security Council resolutions have clearly stated that such measures do not change the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir or erode the requirement for a UN-supervised plebiscite.
India is now carrying out what the Bhartya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (BJP-RSS) leadership ominously calls a “final solution” for Jammu and Kashmir.
This act involves, firstly, a brutal campaign to physically, politically and psychologically crush the Kashmiris’ demand for freedom. India has deployed more than 900,000 troops in Jammu and Kashmir, making it the most militarized part of the world. Since 1990, the Indian army has martyred more than 100,000 Kashmiris.
Under international law, including the UN Declaration on Decolonization and other General Assembly resolutions, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have the right to restore their right to self-determination by any means at their disposal, including armed struggle. But to justify its oppression, India has sought to portray the legitimate Kashmiri freedom struggle as terrorism.
The second part of the “final solution” entails changing the demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir to transform this Muslim-majority state into a Hindu-dominated territory.
India has introduced new residency, ownership and domicile laws in Jammu and Kashmir to ease the way to a full-scale settler colonial project. Thousands of non-Kashmiri Hindus have been relocated, leading to the disempowerment and disenfranchisement of the indigenous Kashmiris in their own homeland. More than 1.5 million dubious “domicile certificates” have been issued so far and have been fast-tracked for armed forces personnel, civil servants, contractors and others. This demographic engineering is meant to diminish prospects for a free, impartial plebiscite.
Thirdly, New Delhi aims to oblige Pakistan to accept the Indian-imposed fait accompli in occupied Jammu and Kashmir by threat, terrorism, subversion and economic aggression.
The Indian leadership has repeatedly issued threatening statements to capture Pakistan-administered Azad (meaning “free”) Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). India’s cease-fire violations along the Line of Control escalated to more than 3,000 last year, targeting civilians on Pakistan’s side of the line of control. Even the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (Unmogip), which is mandated to observe the cease-fire, has been attacked by India.
India’s failed airstrike in Pakistan in February 2019 brought the two nuclear-armed countries to the precipice of a catastrophe. While Pakistan used its right to self-defense — resulting in downing two Indian jets and the capture of an Air Force pilot — it was Pakistan’s restraint that de-escalated the situation.
But India continues to plan, support and finance subversive and terrorist activities against Pakistan. Pakistan has recently shared a detailed dossier with the UN containing incontrovertible evidence of India’s terror sponsorship. New Delhi’s disinformation campaign to malign Pakistan has also been exposed by EU Disinfo Lab, an independent European organization, in its report “Indian Chronicles.”
India’s actions clearly pose a danger to international peace and security, apart from perpetrating massive violations of human rights. The UN and the international community have a responsibility to help resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. They must:
First, uphold the legal sanctity of the Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir and ensure they are carried out;
Two, call for an end to the massive violations of human rights being perpetrated by India’s forces in Jammu and Kashmir, which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity; and
Three, halt India’s terrorist and economic aggression and threats of use of force against Pakistan and avoid a conflict in South Asia.
Munir Akram is the permanent representative of Pakistan’s mission to the UN and a former president of the UN Economic and Social Council. He previously served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN in New York City from 2002 to 2008, after serving as ambassador to the UN in Geneva from 1995 to 2002.