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India-Pak battle out at UN

The UNSC has been invoked several times to intervene and break the Indo-Pak stalemate. Starting from days of the partition in 1948 till the achievement of the nuclear threshold in 1998, it has arbitrated resolution on both nations some 13 times. The position becomes piquant especially since most nations in the UN agree that the situation is Kashmir is tied in a gridlock.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2004 11:28 IST

Indo-Pak relations have been characterized by mistrust, suspicion, and conflict from the day the two countries emerged as independent and separate nation states in August 1947. Way back in 1948, the UN Security Council passed a resolution requesting India and Pakistan to take measures to improve the situation in Kashmir.

Fifty-six years later, Kashmir remains one of the most dangerous theaters of conflict, as the two nations, now armed with nuclear weapons, remain locked in a nuclear confrontation.

Over the last five-and-a-half decades, the two countries have tried to get a durable peace process going and resolve their differences, peacefully, and in a civilized manner. None of these efforts have yielded much- maybe the attempts have been too half-hearted, the positions too rigid, and the differences too deep. Or maybe, the intent has just not been there. An Urdu poet had described partition as a 'blood stained dawn'. Unfortunately, Indo-Pak relations are littered with far too many false dawns.

History of mistrust

And so in the last five-and-a-half decades, the two countries have waged four wars against each other: in 1948; in 1965; in 1971; and in 1999. Pakistan continues to blame India for its dismemberment and the creation of the independent state of Bangladesh in 1971.

India, on its part claims that it entered the scene only after the mass genocide conducted by the Pakistani army in erstwhile East Pakistan, and the humanitarian crisis that was created in India following the large-scale influx of refugees into the country from that region.

While Pakistan is unlikely to forgive India for Bangladesh, Kashmir is a far more emotive issue for both countries. For one, unlike Bangladesh, it still lies unresolved. But more important, it lies at the heart of the ideology that sustains both countries.

India takes great pride in its secular credentials, and believes that it is possible for people of all religions to live peacefully and with mutual respect. The presence of a Muslim-majority Kashmir in India is testimony to India’s secularism, and a refutation of the two-nation theory.

Ideologically poles apart

Pakistan, on the other hand, was founded on the premise that Hindus and Muslims were two separate people, and could not live together. Kashmir’s separation from India would vindicate that stand, and give ideological sustenance to the two-nation theory.

Since 1948 till the achievement of the nuclear threshold, UNSC has arbitrated 13 resolution on both nations. Added to it, the UN Military Observer Group in India, set up in 1949 to monitor peace over Jammu and Kashmir, has been one of UN's longest running peacemaking efforts across the world.

 SC Resolutions since 1948

Within this ideological tension, relations between India and Pakistan have waxed and waned. At times, flashpoints are reached; at times, small windows of opportunities are opened. But for the most part, relations remain nasty and hostile.



India accuses Pakistan of fomenting cross-border terrorism, and of providing financial support as well as safe haven to terrorists operating in India.



Pakistan denies the charge, but never misses an opportunity at any international forum to criticise India for ignoring the 'legitimate aspirations' of the people of Kashmir, and for brutally suppressing human rights in the valley.



Nuclear pressure tactics



The best that can probably be said is that in spite of several bellicose statements from both sides, the two countries have so far refrained from using, or even threatening to use, nuclear weapons against each other.

Currently, the two countries are in the process of taking some tentative steps towards another attempt at peace making. The track record on this front does not give much reason for optimism. And yet, for the future of both countries, we must continue to hope.

India's human rights record and the issue of Kashmir inadvertently become the easiest punching bag and Pakistan finds it simple to bring up this issue in most international summits, particularly in the General Assembly. The Pakistani President, General Musharraf has publicly accused India of "perpetuating gross and consistent violations of human rights in Kashmir".

Apart from that, Pakistan has also explicitly stated that it does not believe in the expansion of the permanent seats and supports only expansion of non-permanent seats in the Council. The basis of such a stance is that it does not want to create 'new centers of privilege'.

  India-Pak Report Card

In every UN Assembly session, including the recent 58th session, Pakistan kept up its nuanced tirade against India over Kashmir and to project the terrorism sponsored from its side of the border as "indigenous struggle for self-determination" by the people of Kashmir.



Apart from that, Pakistan has also explicitly stated that it does not believe in the expansion of the permanent seats and supports only expansion of non-permanent seats in the Council. The basis of such a stance is that it does not want to create "new centers of privilege".



Scuffle at the UN



The UN Security Council as the umpire of the last resort has been invoked several times to intervene and break the stalemate between the two nations. Starting from days of the partition in 1948 till the achievement of the nuclear threshold, it has arbitrated resolution on both nations some 13 times. Added to it, the UN Military Observer Group in India, which was established in 1949 to monitor peace over Jammu and Kashmir, has been one of UN's longest running peace-making effort in the sub-continent.



The position becomes piquant especially since most nations of the UN agree that the situation is tied in a gridlock. Every time the Indian side has underlined its oft-repeated position that a dialogue was only possible when cross-border terrorism ends, Pakistan consistently denies such charges and in return accuses India.



And then again the reciprocal obligations and restraints that India promises each time are stalled and India declares that it would not let terrorism become a tool for such a diplomatic blackmail.However such grandstanding by both nations is rebuffed and the hoped-for bilateral political peace becomes as distant as ever.

First Published: Nov 29, 2003 15:17 IST