Our assurance that we shall withdraw our troops from Kashmir as soon as peace and order are restored and leave the decision about the future of the State, to the people of the State is not merely a pledge to your Government but also to the people of Kashmir and to the world’- Indian Prime Minister Pandit Nehru’s telegram to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, 30th October 1947.
India took the issue of Kashmir to the United Nations on 1st January 1948, in the form of a formal complaint against Pakistan. The complaint was based on article 35 of Chapter VI of the UN charter settlements of disputes’ and not Chapter VII ‘acts of aggression’. This exhibits that India considered Kashmir as a mere dispute and was not ready to claim (and indeed not able to convince the world at large) that Kashmir, as it insists today, is an integral part of its national boundaries.
The complaint lodged claimed that invaders were allowed to cross the border by Pakistan and that they acted against the ‘will’ of the people of Kashmir. It was further insisted that the invaders included Pakistani nationals and that Pakistani officers were ‘training, guiding and otherwise actively helping them’. India also accused Pakistan of breaching the Standstill Agreement concluded with the Government of Kashmir by withholding petrol, salt and other supplies with the intention of coercing the latter into acceding to Pakistan.
With this as the base of the argument, the Indian representatives argued that they had a right of hot pursuit wherein, in order to expel the invaders from Kashmir they could exercise aggression even within the boundaries of Pakistan.
The Pakistan government, in its reply, denied the charges of both its assistance and inclusion in the invasions. On the contrary, it insisted, it was doing all it could to control the outpour of man force penetrating into India. Pakistan emphasized the cultural psyche of the tribesmen and how its actions against them were nothing short of waging war against them. Pakistan admitted that some tribesmen might have voluntarily assisted the Azad Kashmir government but they were neither supported by nor did they represent the government of Pakistan.
In its reply, the Pakistani government reminded how it was woefully short of military supplies to control the invaders because India had failed to hand over its share of military stores as decided at independence. The tribesmen on the other hand, Pakistan insisted, had always kept with them large stores of ammunition some of which they had manufactured themselves. On India’s claim regarding Poonchis, Pakistan reminded that 70,000 of them were professional soldiers who had served in World War II.
Furthermore, in its response to India’s allegation about the StandStill agreement, the government of Pakistan claimed that it was a mere device by the Mahraja to allay the feelings of the Muslim subjects and bring about a state of politics wherein military assistance from India could be a feasible option.
Using the same article 35, Pakistan itself brought forth complaints against India accusing it instead of being involved in genocides of the Muslim population, of attempts to undo Pakistan, of the forcible occupation of Junagadh, of securing an accession of Kashmir which was painted in fraud, manipulation and did not represent the true will of the Kashmir populace, of the numerous attacks of the Royal Indian Force and armed bands from the Indian Union on Pakistani lands, of its refusal to implement the Partition agreement agreed upon by both sides and overseen by the British authorities pre independence especially regarding the distribution of the cash and military stores awarded to Pakistan as per the said agreement.
Pakistan’s insistence for the case of Kashmir remained as it is today: the decision of Kashmir’s association with either country or independence must for sure represent the true will of the population. The accession signed by the Mahraja was a far cry from that. Pakistan requested the council to allow such conditions in Kashmir which could enable them to voice their true decision without any intimidation or pressure from either side. This ofcourse implied that the Indian army had to leave Kashmir and as was promised by Nehru in his telegram to Liaquat Ali Khan, a plebiscite could be held under international monitoring entities the result of which could guarantee a fair representation of the will of the Kashmiri people.
In the conclusion of this lengthy debate, the Council adopted 2 resolutions on 17th January and 20th January 1948: it asked the two governments to refrain from aggravating the situation and established a United Nation Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), to oversee and solve the issue of Kashmir.
The Kashmir Contention | Ahsan Kureshi