UNSC discusses Kashmir first time since 1971: A historical perspective on resolutions passed by Security Council on the issue

  • Following India’s decision to revoke Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold a rare meeting on the issue on Friday

  • According to UN Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, 1971 was the last time the Security Council formally discussed the situation in Jammu and Kashmir

  • Throughout history, the United Nations has played an important role in negotiating between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir conflict

Following India's decision to revoke Article 370, which awards special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold a rare meeting on the issue on Friday. According to UN Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, 1971 was the last time the Security Council formally discussed the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

 UNSC discusses Kashmir first time since 1971: A historical perspective on resolutions passed by Security Council on the issue

Representational image. AFP

PTI quoted a top UN diplomat as saying that "China asked for closed consultations on the Security Council agenda item 'India Pakistan Question'. The request was in reference to the Pakistani letter to Security Council President".

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that he had sent a formal letter to the president of the UNSC to convene the meeting. "I have requested in the letter that a special meeting of the Security Council should be called to discuss those actions of India which we consider as illegal and against the UN resolutions”, he said

A discussion on the Kashmir issue in the UNSC will be a landmark diplomatic achievement, Qureshi noted. "The world needs to realise that it is the issue of humanity and not a piece of land between the two countries," Pakistani media quoted Qureshi as saying.

Qureshi had air-dashed to Beijing for consultation with the Chinese leadership on the issue of raising the Kashmir issue at the UNSC soon after India announced its decision to revoke the special status awarded to Jammu and Kashmir.

Recently, during a bilateral meeting with Chinese foreign minister Yang Wi, External External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar stayed consistent regarding India’s stand on the Kashmir, stating that the decision to revoke Article 370 was an internal matter for India.

A brief history of UN Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir

Throughout history, the United Nations has played an important role in negotiating between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir conflict.

Following the India-Pakistan War of 1947, India’s then governor-general Louis Mountbatten had a conference with Muhammad Ali Jinnah wherein the governor proposed that for princely states in which the ruler did not accede to a dominion corresponding to the majority population, accession should depend on the will of the people.

In another meeting between Jawaharlal Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan in December, Nehru talked about taking the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council under Article 35.

1948: Soon after independence, India took the dispute to the UN Security Council. As a result, the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was set up to mediate between the two countries. It urged India and Pakistan to avoid aggravating the situation in Kashmir by any means and bring to notice of the UN Security Council any material changes.

The Council passed Resolution 39 (1948) which established a commission of three members — one from India and Pakistan each and the third was to be chosen by two other members of the commission.

The UN also passed Resolution 47 in the same year which imposed an immediate ceasefire. India was asked to reduce its forces so that a plebiscite could be put into effect on the question of accession of Kashmir to India or Pakistan. Both countries, however, could not arrive at an agreement due to varied interpretations of the procedure and the extent of demilitarisation.

By virtue of accession of Kashmir to India by J&K's Maharaja Hari Singh, the Indian government considered itself to be under the legal possession of Kashmir. Any involvement by Pakistani forces and any assistance given by Pakistan to rebel forces and the Pakhtoon tribes were viewed with suspicion. According to India, the plebiscite was to confirm the accession of the state, which was already complete.

On the other hand, the Pakistani government held that the Maharaja did not have any authority to carry out the execution since his people had revolted and he had to flee the capital. It also held that India had no right to criticise the country while it extended a helping hand to tribals and rebels. In the end, no agreement was possible between the two countries regarding demilitarisation.

1949- 1950: After being requested by the Council in 1949, Canadian president of the UNSC, General McNaughton submitted a report in February, 1980. His proposal asked India and Pakistan to withdraw their forces (barring Indian forces who operate due to security reasons). It demanded that forces in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) be demobilised and administration of northern areas be under UN supervision.

While the previous resolution 47 urged Pakistan to withdraw its forces first. The new one, resolution 80 asked both countries to withdraw their troops simultaneously in order to reach a plebiscite. However, India did not agree with this resolution.

McNaughton proposals gave both states a time period of about five months to set up the demilitarisation scheme. In 1950, Owen Dixon took charge as the next UN representative to the two countries and he took over McNaughton's scheme for demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir.

1951: In a report, Dixen noted that the main points of difference for holding a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir were the extent of demilitarisation and the extent of control over the exercise of government functions that would ensure a free and fair plebiscite. In this regard, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 91 was adopted in 1951.

After Dixon, Dr Frank Graham was appointed by the Security Council as the UN representative for India and Pakistan. Despite various differences over the extent of demilitarisation, the Council noted both countries as declaring that they would continue to observe a ceasefire. Both parties also accepted the proposal that the accession of Jammu and Kashmir would be determined by a fair and impartial plebiscite under directions given by the UN.

The two major points that India and Pakistan differed upon at this point of time were the number of troops that would stay after demilitarisation on both sides and when the plebiscite administrator could carry out their tasks.

The Karachi agreement was signed between India and Pakistan in 1951. After ending the UNCIP, the Security Council under Resolution 91 (1951) established the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). The body was responsible for reporting violations of the ceasefire.

1952: The United Nations Security Council Resolution 98 was adopted in 1952. The UN representative proposed that the specific number of troops on each side be 6,000 forces (PoK) and 3,500 Gilgit and northern scouts on the Pakistani side and 18,000 Indian forces and 6,000 local state forces on the Indian side.

1957: In 1957, three resolutions namely 122, 123 and 126 were adopted. By the end of the third resolution, 126, adopted during the same year, the governments of India and Pakistan were advised to refrain from aggravating the situation and UN representatives for India and Pakistan were advised to visit the report to the Security Council and report progress regarding Jammu and Kashmir.

1965: Resolutions 209, 210, 211, 214 and 215 were adopted in 1965. The Security Council advised strengthening of the United Nations Military Observer Group in Pakistan and this was reiterated as a major point in some of these resolutions. After the ceasefire discussed in previous resolutions in the same year failed to materialise, the Security Council under Resolution 215, urged a representative of the Secretary-General to meet representatives of India and Pakistan and submit a progress report about compliance with the decision.

1971: In 1971, two UN Security Council resolutions – 303 and 307- were adopted. During this period, relations between India and Pakistan worsened over the question of Jammu and Kashmir and the strife in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan reported ceasefire violations on the Indian and Pakistani border. Following the 1971 India-Pakistan War, the two countries signed the Simla Agreement which sought to define the Line of Control in Kashmir.

Updated Date: Aug 16, 2019 19:45:49 IST