By M J Aslam
On the question of demilitarization, he (Sir Owen Dixon) made the following noteworthy suggestion:
“I became convinced that India’s agreement would never be obtained to demilitarise in any such form or to provisions governing the period of the plebiscite of any such character, which would in my opinion permit the plebiscite being conducted in conditions sufficiently guarding against intimidation and other forms of influence and abuse by which the freedom and fairness of plebiscite might be imperiled”. 1
In the meanwhile, in a clandestine manner, on 27th October, 1950, “General Council of All J&K National Conference”, with a view to frustrate the UN Resolutions, Dixon recommendations and render them redundant, passed a resolution, recommending the convening of a Constituent Assembly for determining the “The Future shape and affiliation of the State of J&K”. 2
The UN SC vide Resolution 91 dated 30-03-1951 rejecting such clandestine moves of NC and re-affirmed that “final disposition of the State will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the UN”. 3
Foregoing was a brief detour into the facts and circumstances surrounding the contention of SMA which has been hereditarily adopted and repeated by his party. “To this day I fail to understand why we in India feel so apologetic that this UN referendum never took place. The onus wasn’t on India to create the conditions for that referendum”. This was stated by Omar Abdullah in October 2016 at a seminar titled ‘India & Pakistan: A Sub-continental Affair’, which was arranged by the New York University students on their campus. 4 This contention which corresponds to that of India 5 is like: that plebiscite was conditional upon Pakistan fulfilling Part (II) of the UN SC Resolution of 13th August, 1948 which required Pakistan to withdraw its troops & that as Pakistan did not withdraw its troops from the State, normal conditions under which a plebiscite could have been conducted did not exist. In simple words, the conditions for holding plebiscite were not created by Pakistan, is the SMA-India claim.
Some Western and Indian scholars also believe that Pakistan’s failure to withdraw its troops from the State led to non-implementation of the UN Resolutions for holding a UN- supervised-plebiscite in JK. Such assertion is totally incorrect and it has been deliberately distorted to misguide the world opinion with respect to the principle of Plebiscite in J&K and is also damaging for the academics & researchers within and beyond Indian academia.
The actual facts about the assertion of demilitarisation are to be found and weighed in the light of the discussions that UN representative, Dr Frank P Graham, held with Pakistani and Indian representatives in New York on 16-07-1952. In his proposals before both the sides, he suggested that 6,000 “Azad Kashmir” forces and 3,500 Gilgit and Northern Scouts should be left on the Pakistani side of the cease-fire line, while 18,000 Indian forces and State armed forces and 6,000 State militia should be left on the Indian side. Pakistan accepted the proposal but India rejected the proposal by holding that it was impossible for it to reduce “absolute minimum” figure of 21,000 Indian soldiers. Hence, the deadlock. 6
But, who was precisely responsible for the deadlock in arriving at final settlement on demilitarization plan, same UN representative who held several rounds of discussion in this regard with both countries’ representatives in a significant UN Mediatory Report on Kashmir submitted by him (Dr Frank P Graham) to UN in 25th October 1967 exposes the whole myth woven around by SMA. The report has never been cited anywhere before. This is the only single UN document available to date which explains the deadlock involved in the withdrawal of forces and the reason for Pakistan’s failure to withdraw all of its forces from the State. It reads as under 7:
“………. the UNCIP found that they were unable to achieve an agreement by India and Pakistan on the terms for the implementation of the truce agreement, as a precondition for a plebiscite. The Commission and their several successors as mediators were unable to achieve an agreement by India and Pakistan on the provisions of the two UNCIP resolutions for two stages in demilitarization, namely: (l) on the withdrawal of the bulk of the Indian forces in relation to the withdrawal of all the remainder of the Pakistan forces after Pakistan had made the beginning of withdrawals, as provided in the 13 August 1948 resolution and (2) on the final disposal of the Indian and State armed forces and the final disposal of the “Azad Kashmir” forces as provided in the 5 January 1949 resolution. In the provisions of part II of the 13 August 1948 resolution, the requirement for the withdrawal of all the Pakistan forces was related to the required withdrawal of the bulk of the Indian forces in stages to be agreed upon by India and the UNCIP. As noted above, such an agreement was not reached with India by the UNCIP or by the several successor UN mediators. This failure of India and the UNCIP and the UN Representatives to reach such an agreement, as relatedly provided in part II, became the continuing grounds for the failure of Pakistan to withdraw all of its forces from Kashmir, which, in turn, was held by India to be a reason for not accepting proposals leading toward a plebiscite.” (Emphasis added).
From the foregoing discussion, it seems manifestly clear as to which of the parties to the dispute was reluctantly ready in withdrawal of its troops or implementation of UN SC Resolutions for plebiscite, obviously, for certain “apprehensions”. Pak-contention that India wanted it vacate its retained part of the State so that its forces could easily reach to that part also has always been there.
—The author can be reached at: [email protected] (The views expressed are solely the author’s)
1) Kashmir in Conflict Victoria Schofield, (2003), page 82; 2) Kashmir Reader dated 22-09-2016; 3) https:// www. mtholyoke. edu/ acad/intrel/kashun91.htm; 4) http:// indian express. com/article/india/india-news -india/india-pakistan-are-not-at-the-brink-of-war -omar-abdullah-3096384/ ;5) http:// mea.gov.in/in-focus-article. htm? 18971/ he+ Jammu+ and+ Kashmir+ Issue; 6) Kashmiris-Fight-For-Freedom by M Y Saraf (2009) Vol. II, page 1087; http:// web. stanford. edu/ group/ tomzgroup/pmwiki/uploads/2626-1952-10-K-a-AJG. pdf; 7). Page 14
—(To Be Continued..)