Skip to main content

Kashmir: Pak move to annex Gilgat-Baltistan 'justifies' Modi action on Articles 370, 35A

By Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai*

Mohammad Zafrullah Khan, Pakistani foreign minister and delegate to the United Nations, had made it clear on January 16, 1948 during the 228th meeting of the Security Council that Gilgat-Baltistan is the part of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Here is the part of his eloquent speech:
“The population of Kashmir is distributed communally as follows: In Kashmir proper, apart from Jammu, 93.5 percent are Muslims. Sixty-two percent of the population of Jammu are Muslims. Gilgat, which is the high mountain region is entirely Muslim. The total area of the state, which is largely composed of high mountains and barren hills, is 82,000 square miles.”
Now, if  Pakistan plans to elevate Gilgat-Baltistan (GB) to a full-fledged province with all constitutional rights, it will disturb the disputed nature of the state of the Jammu & Kashmir. It will be akin to the unilateral action taken by Narendra Modi on August 5, 2019, when Articles 370 and 35A were abrogated. Both these actions will be in violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions # 91 of 1951 and 122 and 126 of 1957.
These resolutions categorically state: 
“Affirming that the convening of a Constituent Assembly as recommended by the General Council of the ‘All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference’ and any action that Assembly might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire State or any part thereof would not constitute a disposition of the State in accordance with the above principle.”
So as bottom lines go, say what you want about Gilgat Baltistan. Do as you wish. It will not affect the status of what constitutes the whole of Jammu and Kashmir or its parts as a disputed territory.
The plan was announced by Ali Amin Gandapur, Minister of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgat-Baltistan on September 17, 2020. He further said that people of GB would be given representation in the Senate and the national Assembly of Pakistan.
Obviously, if Pakistan makes Gilgat Baltistan the province of Pakistan, then India has all the right, perhaps not legal but as a matter of principle, to justify her stand that Indian part of Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India. And on what justification will Pakistan protest? As the saying goes, what is good for the goose may also be good for the gander.
Pakistan has continually made Kashmir an international issue and brought it frequently to the attention of the UN for human rights abuses. On September 14, 2020, Ambassador Munir Akram said: 
"He (Imran Khan) is expected once again to project the just cause of the Kashmiri people and call for action by the international community to halt India’s massive violations of human rights, rescind the unilateral measures imposed in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir since August 5, 2019 and promote a solution in accordance with the Security Council resolutions and the will of the Kashmiri people."
If Ambassador Munir Akram made India to adopt a defensive posture in respect to its action taken in August 2019, Gandapur provides India a cover to shield her illegal and unconstitutional action taken in Indian occupied Kashmir.
It is obvious, however, that making GB a fifth province of Pakistan isn’t going to fly with anyone. The resistance leadership in Kashmir certainly aren’t going to. Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik said in March 2016 when such proposal was being floated by Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Pakistan’s minister for inter-provincial coordination: “Any proposal to declare Gilgat-Baltistan as the fifth province of Pakistan is unacceptable as it is tantamount to changing the disputed nature of Kashmir.” 
Declaring Gilgat-Baltistan as 5th province of Pakistan is unacceptable. It is tantamount to changing disputed nature of Kashmir
Nawaz Sharif, then the Prime Minister of Pakistan, wrote to Mohammad Yasin Malik, Chairman Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front on March 18, 2016: 
“I would like to make it unambiguously clear that Pakistan is fully aware of the sensitivities attached to Gilgat-Baltistan with regard to the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. Media speculations are a result of either misperceptions or misinterpretations… I would like to assure you that Pakistan will never compromise on its principle stance on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute which is based on the UN Security Council resolutions.
“Nor will Pakistan take any measure that may cause harm to the valiant struggle of the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, for their inalienable right to self-determination, promised to them by the UN Security Council resolution.”

Likewise, ZA Bhutto, then the foreign minister of Pakistan, wrote to the President of the Security Council on March 16, 1963:
"It is necessary for me to point out the evident fact that the territory of Jammu & Kashmir is not a part, integral or otherwise, of the territory of the Union. The territory of Jammu & Kashmir belongs to the people of Jammu & Kashmir. It is a territory the future of which must be decided in accordance with the United Nations Commission's resolution of plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations to determine its accession to India or Pakistan…
“My Government is bound by its duty to declare before the Security Council that, pending determination of the future of Kashmir through the will of the people impartially ascertained, no position taken or adjustments made by either of the parties to the present controversy between India and China or any similar controversy in the future shall be valid or affect the status of the territory of Jammu & Kashmir laid down in the resolutions of the Security Council.”

One of the highly-noted London-based Kashmiri scholars, Professor Zafar Khan says, “If Gilgat Baltistan is absorbed as 5th province into Pakistani Federation, Kashmiris of all hues will consider such an action unfriendly by the Government of Pakistan, similar to the one, taken by the Narendra Modi government on August 5,2019.”
Obviously, making Gilgat-Baltistan a province of Pakistan will have disastrous consequences for the disputed territory of Jammu & Kashmir. Those willing to advance its cause among the international community will have lost a major ally.
The Kashmiri diaspora urges the Government of Pakistan to pay attention to the genuine grievances of the people of Gilgat-Baltistan. The government should undertake mega projects for GB, be it development project, educational, health, roads, etc. There is no doubt that the people of Gilgat-Baltistan need the immediate relief from the Government of Pakistan. It must be attended to immediately and not left to tomorrow.
As Justice Muzaffar Ali, former Judge of the Gilgat-Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court has said, “A prosperous Pakistan requires addressing of the grievances of GBians which are being felt by the educated youth of Gilgat-Baltistan bitterly.”
There can be various possibilities of addressing the issues of Gilgat-Baltistan. One of them is, let the people of Gilgat-Baltistan be given choice to elect the Prime Minister and President. Currently Gilgat-Baltistan has elected a Chief Minister as is the case in Punjab, Baluchistan, Khyber-Pakhtun and Sindh. This gives the appearance as if GB is one of the provinces of Pakistan. This mistake needs to be rectified.
---
*Secretary General of Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.

How retraints were imposed on academic freedom on the IIM-Ahmedabad campus

By Sandeep Pandey*  This is the seventh consecutive academic year when I would have gone as a visiting faculty member to the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad to teach an Elective course on Transformational Social Movements to the second year of Post Graduate Programme students. But the invitation has not come so far and it looks like it is the end of my teaching stint at IIM, at least, so long as the Bhartiya Janata Party remains in power at the centre.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there.