Hajra Haroon l
Kashmir is a region known for bloodshed, political instability, militarization and human rights exploitation. This turbulent history stems from fighting for its right to self-determination ever since the partition of the Indo-Pak subcontinent. The inherent animosity between India and Pakistan resulted in one of the longest-running conflicts in the world, i.e. the dispute of Kashmir. Both countries have their vested interests and national agendas and resultantly the aspirations of Kashmiri people have been largely compromised.
Several times, the two countries tried to negotiate, but no constructive results could be achieved. It is mainly because India has eternally held an unflinching approach towards the issue. On the other hand, Pakistan has continuously criticized the heavy militarization and brutality unleashed by the Indian Army in Kashmir, yet India always turned a deaf ear. Another critical factor is that India has withheld the plebiscite, and as a result, the fundamental rights of the people of Kashmir have been suppressed.
When the United Nations stepped in, India blatantly refuted the resolutions that it presented. The most active period of the United Nations involvement in the Kashmir issue was from 1948-1965. Until 1957, various efforts were made by the UN to resolve the chaos and to come up with a way that can provide the right of self-determination to Kashmiri people, however, despite the fact that the United Nations appointed an array of meditators for it, India discarded its contributions.
After the 1965 war, UN’s attention to this dispute was reduced entirely to records and papers, and later when the Simla Agreement was signed in 1972, it completely vanished. From 1948 to 1971, UN passed a total of 23 resolutions. However, India refused to enforce the resolutions and hence transported Kashmir to a matter of perpetual conflict.
In 2019, India shocked the world by suddenly scraping away the Article 370 and 35A. This move was widely considered as unilateral and illegal. It is because the Simla Agreement signed in 1972 between India and Pakistan clearly stated that two of the neighbors would resolve their issues through peaceful and bilateral negotiations and will not alter the status quo in Kashmir unilaterally. India has time and again mentioned that the issue of Kashmir is a bilateral one. Therefore, it needs to be settled through peaceful negotiations between India and Pakistan.
India alone cannot decide the future of Kashmir, but this shocking step has left Pakistan and the rest of the world bewildered. Through this step, India has compromised its position as the largest democracy in the world. It has also managed to risk its reputation as a responsible nuclear power.
Despite all these factors, Indian government seems to be paying no heed to the plight of Kashmiris. In April 2020, the country introduced a new domicile law for the national citizens of India. According to the new law, those who have lived for 15 years in the Indian Held Kashmir or spent seven years as a student there can become permanent residents of the region. Last year in Aug 2019, India changed the political and geographical status of the disputed territory and this year the country seems to be playing with the demographic status too. The experts fear that this change will result in ‘demographic flooding’.
A global arbitration is required to resolve the perpetual dispute of Kashmir. United Nations can play an important part; however, India rejects third-party involvement in the disputed region. It is because, in case of an international meditation, the brutality, bloodshed, exploitation of the fundamental human rights, massive militarization and political instability on the hands of the government of India will be exposed. To maintain a false image of democracy and secularism, India will never allow third-party intervention whereas its rival, Pakistan wants the opposite.
Holding a referendum and helping the people of Kashmir find their lost voice is the only step towards stability. The United Nations has called twice for the plebiscite. However, the idea of observing a referendum has yet to be realized.