Kashmir Issue – Bilateral or not?

According to the Shimla Agreement signed in 1972 between India and Pakistan, the Kashmir issue was to be solved bilaterally, without involving a third party. However, Pakistan seems to always forget that, and has time and again raised issues over Kashmir in the United Nations General Assembly and other international organizations. India every time has to remind Pakistan and the international organizations that Kashmir is a bilateral issue following the terms of the Shimla Agreement.

Every year at almost every international platform, Pakistan raked up the Kashmir issue since the signing of the 1972 Shimla Agreement. India has abided by the Accord and has never raised the issue on international platforms. On the contrary, India has always tried to reach an agreement with Pakistan over the Kashmir issue and has initiated dialogues and round table conferences to solve the issue. However, Pakistan’s state-sponsored terrorism led to a temporary halt in dialogues in 2019. Like Pakistan, India could have raised the known fact that a big chunk of Kashmir is illegally and forcibly occupied by Pakistan. According to the Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh, the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir including Ladakh union territory and Pakistan occupied part is a part of India. Pakistan, right from independence has been the occupier and India has always maintained that Pakistani troops should vacate the occupied part of Jammu and Kashmir.

Many sovereign countries and international organizations have maintained that a referendum should decide the fate of Jammu and Kashmir, whether it would join India or Pakistan or remain independent. The third option is considered practically impossible as Kashmir is a mountainous country, with limited resources and is surrounded by three nuclear giants looking to occupy it. The referendum was a good option in the early stages of the conflict. However, to conduct a referendum, the prior event was that Pakistan had to withdraw its troops from Kashmir, which it never did. After 75 years, the referendum is hardly meaningful when Pakistan abolished the state subject rule in 1971 and made widespread demographic changes in the territory it occupies. Bilateral talk remains the one and only way to solve the dispute peacefully, which the rulers of Pakistan are never understanding.

Of late, India’s secretary at the United Nations General Assembly, Sneha Dubey, lashed out at Pakistan for harboring terrorists and inciting violence in the Kashmir region of India. She reminded the world that while championing its cause for Kashmir, Pakistan commits gross human rights violations and genocide against religious minorities and people of the part of Kashmir it occupies. She also urged Pakistan to respect the territorial integrity of India and vacate from the region it occupies.

Written by – Himadri Paul

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