There is always a continuous refrain from the Government as well as other political luminaries in India that the problem of Kashmir is a bi-lateral problem between India and Pakistan. This is slightly better than the other streams which claim Kashmir to be an inseparable and integral part of India? Any attempt by the other party or even by some leaders in Kashmir to persuade International players including some watch dog agencies to intervene is always termed as “Internationalising” Kashmir! Everybody seems to forget that Kashmir became an International problem in 1947 itself. It was born along with the birth of the two separate countries in the sub-continent. It is India itself which internationalised the problem by taking it to the Global Police Station of the UN, the Security Council. They filed a complaint which amounts to lodging an FIR (First Information Report) about an offence having been committed by Pakistan by sending tribesmen to Kashmir and thereby endangering the World Peace.
Once an FIR about a cognisable offence is lodged with a law enforcing agency, it automatically becomes a case of the state versus the alleged offender. The person or the agency lodging the complaint cannot withdraw it. The law enforcing agency of the state, in this case, the Security Council has to investigate the complaint and take appropriate action under the law. The Security Council did the same and asked both the parties to ascertain the wishes of the people for deciding their future dispensation. However, till date the neither side has done it and the Security Council has not taken any action to enforce its decision as it is given out that the case was not disposed under the relevant chapter giving the Security Council mandatory powers to enforce its decision.
Whether Kashmir is an international dispute or not can be judged from the UN website giving a fact sheet about the UNMOGIP (UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan) which forms part of its worldwide peace keeping operations. This Military Observer Group was set up in January, 1949 to oversee the ceasefire between India and Pakistan. This group is headquartered in Srinagar and Islamabad for summer and winter respectively. It has strength of 113. There are 42 Military Personnel who act as Military Observers. There are 71 civilians including 25 foreigners. There are 46 locals working with the mission. There have been 11 fatalities among its personnel. The budget for the year 2012-13 has been pegged at more than $ 21 million.
Even though the Indian Government does not allow access to the Observers, they continue to report the violations to UN Headquarter in New York. In fact, the UNMOGIP Headquarter both in Srinagar and Islamabad has been a popular spot for protestors to convey memoranda to UN Secretary General. Incidentally, some years back during a conducted tour of the UN Headquarter in New York, the UN tour guide while going through the chamber of the Security Council mentioned that one of the oldest disputes on the agenda of the Council is Kashmir dispute. On being told that one was from Kashmir she gave a smile!
Srinagar is supposed to have an International Airport but there are no International flights as most of airlines refuse to fly here because of the area being a disputed territory. Chinese have been issuing stapled visas to Kashmiris because of being residents of a disputed place. In fact, a number of International treaties including the famous Indus Water Treaty stipulate that the treaty does not alter the basic rights/claims of the various parties regarding the territory. The maps of Kashmir issued by many countries and international organisations show Kashmir as a disputed territory. Some people attach the label of “Pak Administered” or “Indian Administered” Kashmir to the two parts of the state.
Even if one would close eyes to all these facts and claim Kashmir to be bi-lateral dispute, the problem will not end there. It is not in reality the dispute over the ownership of a piece of land. It involves the fate of the millions of people inhabiting that piece of land. This makes it a tri-lateral problem. The principal party are the Kashmiri people. In the present context, internationalising the dispute is of no consequence. The Global Peace Keeper, Security Council has miserably failed to enforce its decisions in regard to Kashmir.
The UN is held hostage by USA and its allies. This was very starkly demonstrated by the Saudi refusal to take up the rotational membership of the Council. There is no need for the Indian Government and others to get worked up if Pakistan and others within and outside Kashmir try to internationalise it. Indians have tried their utmost to domesticize it but have miserably failed. They have to maintain a colossal security set up to keep the peace. The Line of Control is again getting heated up. Ultimately, the Security Council may have to step in again if the heat goes beyond control.
International, bi-lateral or domestic, Kashmir is a problem which cannot be wished away. The only solution is to accept the existence of the problem and to address it for an early solution. It has been observed by some that there are other covert stake holders like the security apparatuses including the armies on two sides of the divide. A viable solution can be found only if all the stake holders are on board. Otherwise, we will continue to have many Kargils, Kerans, and continuously heated up Line of Control. How will all the stake holders come together to address the issue? That is the million dollar question!