Back-story on the U.S. offer of mediation
- In 1993, the new administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton decided to wade into the Kashmir issue, indicating repeatedly that it wished to mediate between India and Pakistan.
- At the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Clinton referred to resolving “civil wars from Angola to the Caucasus to Kashmir,” and a month later, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State questioned the validity of Kashmir’s ‘Instrument of Accession’ during a press briefing.
- India has always opposed any suggestion of third-party mediation on Jammu and Kashmir; both the 1972 Shimla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore declaration included India’s and Pakistan’s commitment to resolving issues between them.
What about the U.S.?
- A particularly bitter episode for India came from mediation attempts by the U.S. and the U.K. after the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
- The U.S. had provided India with planes and military hardware during the war and the price was that India should agree to mediate talks with Pakistan on Kashmir.
- The mediation was accepted because Nehru was in shock after the defeat to China, and the U.S. made it clear that any further military assistance was contingent on India’s cooperation on Kashmir talks.
- The day war ended, a team of 24 American negotiators headed to India, to bring India to the table for six rounds of talks between Foreign Ministers. Eventually, however as India regained its confidence, the talks floundered, and ended in 1963 after Nehru made it clear that India would never give up the Kashmir Valley.
Why does India refrain from taking help?
- Attempts have worked for diffusing tensions, or calling off hostilities at the Line of Control and the International Border, but not in terms of their rival claims over Jammu and Kashmir.
- Another reason is that India sees itself as a regional leader, and does not require any assistance in sorting out its issues with other regional countries.
- The widespread belief is that mediation favours the weaker party by levelling the playing field, and with its stronger conventional and non-conventional military prowess, India has seen no significant gain from bringing a third-party into its 70-year-old conflict with Pakistan.
- After winning the war with Pakistan that saw the creation of Bangladesh, India, in 1972, negotiated the Simla Agreement, which did away with any idea of future mediation between the two countries.
- According to the Agreement signed in 1972 by Indira Gandhi and by then President Bhutto, the two countries “resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them”.
- In February 1999, the Lahore declaration signed by Nawaz Sharif and Atal Behari Vajpayee also affirmed the bilateral nature of issues and their resolution.
- These bilateral efforts are at an end at present, and little has moved since the last negotiations on Kashmir in 2003-2008, when Indian and Pakistani negotiators discussed the four-step formula.
- India has maintained its opposition to third-party mediation, however, and despite offers from several leaders including South African President Nelson Mandela, UN Chief António Guterres, and more recently, the Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg all the above proposals were rejected.
Simla Agreement, 1972
- The Simla Agreement signed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan on 2nd July 1972 was much more than a peace treaty seeking to reverse the consequences of the 1971 war.
- 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 Simla Agreement contains a set of guiding principles, mutually agreed to by India and Pakistan, which both sides would adhere to while managing relations with each other. These emphasize: respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; non-interference in each other’s internal affairs; respect for each other’s unity, political independence; sovereign equality; and abjuring hostile propaganda.
- The following principles of the Agreement are, however, particularly noteworthy:
- A mutual commitment to the peaceful resolution of all issues through direct bilateral approaches.
- To build the foundations of a cooperative relationship with special focus on people to people contacts.
- To uphold the inviolability of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, which is a most important CBM between India and Pakistan, and a key to durable peace
Lahore Declaration, 1999
- Shall intensify their efforts to resolve all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Shall refrain from intervention and interference in each other's internal affairs.
- Shall intensify their composite and integrated dialogue process for an early and positive outcome of the agreed bilateral agenda.
- Shall take immediate steps for reducing the risk of accidental or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons and discuss concepts and doctrines with a view to elaborating measures for confidence building in the nuclear and conventional fields, aimed at prevention of conflict.
- Reaffirm their commitment to the goals and objectives of SAARC and to concert their efforts towards the realisation of the SAARC vision for the year 2000 and beyond with a view to promoting the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life through accelerated economic growth, social progress and cultural development.
- Reaffirm their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and their determination to combat this menace.
- Shall promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Reference to United Nations
- India made a reference to the United Nations on 1st January 1948 under Article 35 of the Charter, which permits any member state to bring any situation, whose continuance is likely to endanger international peace and security, to the attention of the Security Council.
- The intention behind this reference was to prevent a war between the two newly independent countries, which would have become increasingly likely if the tribal invaders assisted first indirectly and then actively by the Pakistan army had persisted with their agitations against India in Kashmir.
- The Government of India requested the Security Council "to put an end immediately to the giving of such assistance which was an act of aggression against India”.
- Pakistan consistently misled the world regarding its involvement in Kashmir:
- It claimed initially in 1947 that it was not in any way assisting the tribal invaders and was only not actively opposing their passage out of fear that they may turn against the local Pakistani population. It was, however, clearly established that these invaders were being looked after in Pakistan territory, fed, clothed, armed and otherwise equipped and transported to J&K with the help, direct and indirect, of Pakistani officials, both military & civil. The first Governor General of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah claimed in a meeting with the then Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten that he was in a position "to gall the whole thing off” subject to some of his demands being met.
- Pakistan later claimed that its own forges were not involved directly in operations in Kashmir. But the UN Commission that visited India in July 1948 found Pakistani forges operating in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The UNGIP Resolution of August 1948 documented the Pakistani aggression then it stated: "The presence of troops of Pakistan in the territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir constitute a material change in the situation singe it was represented by the Government of Pakistan before the Security Council”.
Non-implementation of UN Resolutions by Pakistan
India had made it clear that full implementation of the UN resolutions would be conditional upon Pakistan fulfilling Parts (I) & (II) of the UNGIP resolutions of l3 August, 1948, which inter alia, required that all forges regular and irregular under the control of both sides shall cease fire; Pakistan would withdraw its troops, it would endeavour to secure withdrawal of tribesmen and Pak nationals and India will withdraw bulk of its forges once the UNGIP confirms that the tribesmen and Pak nationals have withdrawn and Pak troops are being withdrawn.
India was also to ensure that the State government takes various measures to preserve peace, lay and order. Indian acceptance of these UNGIP resolutions was also subject to several conditions and assurances given by UNGIP including that Pakistan would be excluded from all affairs of Jammu & Kashmir, "Azad J & K Government” would not be recognised, sovereignty of J & K government over the entire territory of the State shall not be brought into question, territory occupied by Pakistan shall not be consolidated, and Pakistani troops would be withdrawn completely. Pakistan never fulfilled these assurances.
Ending the conflict
- Tensions in Kashmir may have subsided, but the root causes of the violence there have not.
- In my assessment, the Kashmir dispute cannot be resolved bilaterally by India and Pakistan alone even if the two countries were willing to work together to resolve their differences.
- This is because the conflict has many sides: India, Pakistan, the five regions of Kashmir and numerous political organizations.
- Establishing peace in the region would require both India and Pakistan to reconcile the multiple and sometimes conflicting aspirations of the diverse peoples of this region.
- Only when local aspirations are recognized, addressed and debated alongside India and Pakistan’s nationalist and strategic goals will a durable solution emerge to one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.