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

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).