Four Misses on Kashmir at the UN General Assembly

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Dr Syed Nazir Gilani

Pakistan very rightly flagged the presence of 900,000 Indian soldiers but failed to demand relief for the people of Kashmir as available within the UN mechanism

The in-person 77th session of the UN General Assembly heard Pakistan on 23rd and India on 24th September. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan was represented by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister for External Affairs took the floor on behalf of the Republic of India. Pakistan had to tell two sobering tales, one of the ravages of a flood never witnessed in the territories of Pakistan and the second of repression upgraded by India in the territories of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019.
Prime Minister of Pakistan did well in telling the story of life underwater in most parts of Pakistan and how Pakistan needed to be considered as a victim in determining a case of “climate justice.” There is hardly a soul around the globe that has not been touched by the plight of men, women, children and the elderly who were overpowered by the ferocity and the spread of floods. There could be no argument against the belief that in the last 75 years, we have done very little or not enough for the majority of people. We did not seem prepared for this natural disaster. On the Kashmir front, we have not yet perfected the art of storytelling. Every country has its manner of storytelling and depends on the content of its case. Israelis and Palestinians are an interesting case. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, in addition to his understanding of the jurisprudence of the Kashmir case, has to trust the input from an intra-disciplinary arrangement working on Kashmir. So he could not be blamed for any oversight or under-sight in the course of any presentation. Nevertheless, he remains in charge and carries the ultimate blame or credit.
Prime Ministers of Pakistan have been failing to argue a case against the 900,000 Indian soldiers deployed in Kashmir, just for a lack of understanding of the jurisprudence. Pakistan raised among many other issues the question of 900,000 Indian soldiers in Kashmir at the 74th, 75th, 76th and 77th sessions of the UN General Assembly in 2019, 2020, 2021 and this year in 2022. The first three sessions were addressed by Prime Minister Imran Khan and this year by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Reading the text from your written speech or making an oral presentation without connecting it to the jurisprudence of Kashmir has been a continued problem. Imran Khan failed on three occasions and Shahbaz Sharif failed one time on 23 September 2022 in arguing against the number of the Indian army.
After listening to Mr Mahmoud Abbas, president of the State of Palestine, and Mr Nicos Anastasiades President of the Republic of Cyprus speaking at the 77th session of UN GA, one can safely say that Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr Shahbaz Sharif was not original or impressive in his speech on Kashmir. His arguments were very poorly repeated and there was no connectivity. It was a ritual reading out of a text.
As said, the speeches of the Prime Minister of Pakistan or anyone who represents the country are carefully written and crafted. An assertive Prime Minister looks at and satisfies himself with the text, content and punctuation. All inputs are linked in and he is the face of the country at the podium.
Prime Minister of Pakistan repeated eight points in almost the same language as that used in the speech of Mr Imran Khan delivered last year on 25 September 2021 through video to the 76th session of UN GA. Repeated issues and the language are the following:
1. illegal and unilateral measures
2. unleashed a reign of terror by an occupation force of 900,000
3. it has jailed senior Kashmiri leadership
4. it has extra-judicially killed hundreds of innocent Kashmiris in fake “encounters”;
5. change the demographic structure of the occupied territory, and transform it from a Muslim majority into a Muslim minority.
6. 4th Geneva Convention
7. sustainable peace in South Asia is contingent upon the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute
8. BJP government has intensified repression in Kashmir and continues to vitiate the environment with these barbaric acts.
Prime Minister could not be blamed for this repeat in his speech. We find these repeats in the speech of Imran Khan made at the 74th, 75th and 76th sessions of the UN General Assembly as well.
On the contrary, Presidents of Palestine and Cyprus argued their cases and connected with the jurisprudence of UN Resolutions. The President of Palestine used a number of images as well.
While referring to 900,000 Indian forces a fourth time this year, the Prime Minister of Pakistan failed to connect it with UN SC Resolution 47, which imposes a discipline on the number, behaviour and location of Indian forces. Pakistan repeated a reference but failed to connect it with an available relief. These forces are subordinate to the governments of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan should have connected its reference to nine lakh Indian soldiers with the proposal made by Canada at the 235th meeting of the UN SC, “to afford security to the people of Jammu and Kashmir” and with the Indian request made at the 608th meeting of the UN SC that India would require an “irreducible 21,000 non-arms bearing soldiers” in Kashmir.
Pakistan very rightly flagged the presence of 900,000 Indian soldiers but failed to demand relief for the people of Kashmir as available within the UN mechanism. Pakistan should have referred to its proposal made at the 761st meeting of UN SC to send a UN Force into Kashmir. Pakistan had proposed, “The functions of protecting the State and ensuring internal security should be entrusted by the Council to a United Nations Force which should be introduced into the area at once. Let all other forces-Indian, Pakistani and local, be disbanded and non-Kashmiri nationals even in the police forces be removed from the State of Kashmir.”
Pakistan’s proposal of sending a UN Force into Kashmir was endorsed by Australia, Cuba, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and the United States of America in Resolution S/3787 dated 14 February 1957. It was high time to tell the UN GA that India has further committed itself in this regard, in the pledges made to the Prime Minister of Great Britain on 26.10.1947, the Government of Kashmir on 27.10.1947 and the Government of Pakistan on 28.10.1947. Pakistan has missed four opportunities in arguing a case against the 900,000 Indian soldiers and seeking relief for the people of Kashmir from the United Nations.