UNITED NATIONS: India last week hit out at Pakistan for “incessantly flogging” the concept of self-determination in the context of Kashmir.

Speaking at the third committee of the 49th session of the UN General Assembly here, member of the Indian delegation, Brajesh Mishra said: “The world knows fully well that it was Pakistan that prevented a plebiscite in Kashmir in 1949 by refusing to withdraw from the areas occupied by it de- spite a directive from the Security Council.”

He, however, said the people of Jammu and Kashmir had exercised their right self-determination by participating in democratic elections over the years.

“They are poised to participate in another election in the state,” he said adding “the tide of history cannot be reversed and Jammu and Kashmir today is an integral part of India and it shall remain so forever.”

Mishra said “there is an inherent contradiction in Pakistan’s claim that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part, indeed the jugular vein of Pakistan and its call for self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.” “Does self-determination mean pre-determination by Pakistan of future of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” the Indian delegates asked.

Referring to Pakistani delegate’s statement earlier in the day that Pakistan came into existence through an act of self-determination, Mishra said the historical inaccuracy of this apart, the theoretical pretension was that this involved the creation of a state for the Muslim population of the Indian subcontinent.

“On the very day of this act of creation, Pakistan discovered that it had only 65% of the Muslim population for whom it ostensibly came into existence.” Mishra said adding: Rightly has the distinguished Pakistani historian Ayosha Jalal asked the unpalatable question: How did a Pakistan come about which fitted the interests of Muslims so poorly. “Thirty-four years later, Pakistan discovered that a majority of its population had determined to opt out of it to create another state,” he added.

Mishra said “if I were a citizen of Pakistan, Mr. Chairman, I would reflect very seriously on this process of perennial diminution, I would exercise a good deal of care, I would eschew mindless advocacy of the doctrine of self-determination. I would do so to avoid the prospect of the doc- trine being used or misused in the future by any group of persons having regional linguistic or sectarian identity.”

Mishra also accused Pakistan of violating the Simla Agreement which established in 1972 that all outstanding differences between India and Pakistan should be settled through bilateral negotiations. He said Pakistan failed to implement in 1949 its part of the obligations of the United Nations resolutions and then disowned the Shimla agreement. “It has no right. therefore, to speak of obligations either multilateral or bilateral,” he remarked.

Meanwhile in New Delhi, India has once again firmly rejected Pakistan’s proposal for “proximity” talks, offering instead to “resume bilateral dialogue at any time and at any place in India or in Pakistan.”

The Foreign Secretary, K. Srinivasan, who returned to New Delhi a few days ago after attending the UN General Assembly sessions in New York, told journalists that given the history of the subcontinent, its culture and the overall ties between India and Pakistan, there was no need for an interlocutor or a facilitator for talks between the two sides. “Proximity” talks envisage two delegations sitting in close proximity, but using a third party to talk to one another. The idea was first mooted by Pakistan during talks with the Indian delegation at a mid-1994 SAARC meeting of foreign ministers in Dhaka.

The Pakistani Foreign Minister reiterated the proposal after his return home a few days ago from the UN General Assembly. The idea is believed to have the tacit support of the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros Ghali. India has repeatedly proposed talks with Pakistan since the meeting of the two foreign secretaries in Islamabad in January, but has failed to clicit a positive response from across the border.

Srinivasan said India was “neither pessimistic nor optimistic” about its chances for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. The leader of the Indian delegation to the current General Assembly, Pranab Mukherjee, in his speech, staked this country’s claim for permanent seat in any reconstituted Security Council.

The Foreign Secretary said India’s claim stemmed from its conviction that instead of a “piece- 10 the meal” approach reconstitution of the Council, more countries should be allowed to be part of the policy-making body on a permanent basis.

Considering the variety of views expressed during the current General Assembly, Srinivasan reckoned the working group on reforming the Council will continue its work and report to the 50th sessions of the General Assembly next year.

He confirmed that when the Minister of State for External Affairs. Salman Khursheed, was in Lon- don last week, the British Government had conveyed its de- sire to see international monitoring of any election in Jammu and Kashmir.

He noted that the presence of foreign observers was now a routine in elections in South Asia. He added that the British request had been conveyed to the Home Ministry.

Article extracted from this publication >>  October 28, 1994