Parliament’s Resolution on PoK – A brilliant piece of shrewd statesmanship

By K.N. Pandita

Put succinctly, the Resolution of 22 February 1994 said: On behalf of the People of India, the Indian Parliament firmly declares that:

“(a) The State of Jammu & Kashmir has been, is and shall be an integral part of India and any attempts to separate it from the rest of the country will be resisted by all necessary means; (b) India has the will and capacity to firmly counter all designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity; and demands that (c) Pakistan must vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression; and resolves that (d) All attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of India will be met resolutely.”  

What prompted the Parliament to pass this Resolution? There were attempts of separating J&K from the rest of the country. (a) Incursion of Kashmir by the tribesmen in 1947 was sponsored and abetted by Pakistan (b) Between 1947 and 1990, Pakistan unsuccessfully waged three wars to wrest J&K. In the process, she lost East Pakistan (c) In 1990 Pakistan launched proxy war through jihadis (“non-State actors”). It continues. (d) In 1998 Pakistan army made the Kargil miss-adventure that boomeranged and, in the process, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was shown the exit.

India resolved to firmly counter all designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. What were the designs?

On 4th February 1990 Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had called a conference of the political leaders of Pakistan and took them into confidence on Kashmir situation—critical at that juncture. She gave a call for general strike throughout the country on 5 February as Solidarity Day with Kashmir. The day is regularly observed in Pakistan.
On February 10, 1990, joint sitting of Pakistani Parliament passed a unanimous resolution rejecting accession of J&K to the Indian Union and demanding resolution of the dispute in the light of UN Resolutions.

On 13 March 1990 Benazir visited Muzaffarabd. While addressing a big crowd she challenged Indian Prime Minister to visit Srinagar. In her hysterical speech she promised a “thousand year war” in support of militants and announced the creation of a four million fund to support the “freedom fighters” across Line of Control.

In her public speech at Muzaffarabad she said, ‘We have supported Kashmir’s struggle for right of self-determination in the past. We support them today and will continue to support them till death. And even if we die our last words will be: “fight for humanity, fight for right of self-determination, fight for Kashmir.”

During the summer of 1992 PM Nawaz Sharif addressed a series of public gatherings where he chanted the slogan of Kashmir banega Pakistan. It became Pakistan’s war-cry against India.

Let us keep in mind that:

Pakistan has offered the entire region of Gilgit and Baltistan to China. It is integral part of the original State of Jammu and Kashmir. China is planning rail link from Tibet to Gawadar seaport of Pakistan via Karakorum Highway across Gilgit-Baltistan. Permanent military barracks have been constructed for increasing number of Chinese troops in G-B.
G-B is a strategic region in China’s “String of Pearls” strategy to contain India. Borders of China, Tibet, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan meet in Gilgit-Baltistan. Latest news is that Pakistan proposes to lease areas of Gilgit to China for 50 years.

Did the Resolution of 22 February 1994 focus only on Pakistan? No, it did not. Anglo-American bloc wanted to revive the memory of Lord Curzon’s “Great Game” in Central Asia.
Following inventory reflects accelerated Kashmir-centric activity of Anglo-American bloc during ten months prior to the passing of the resolution by the Indian Parliament. On 7 May 1993 separatist leaders Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat, Abbas Ansari, Ali Shah Gilani and Mian Abdul Qayum agreed to travel to Jeddah to participate in ISI-sponsored meeting on Kashmir by an Islamic group.

19 May 1993 John Malott of US State Department visited New Delhi and asserted that Kashmiris were central party to the dispute. 24 – 28 May, 1993: Ms. Robin Raphael, Asstt. Secretary of State visited Kashmir and interacted with militant leaders. Sept 1993: US President unusually made passing reference to Kashmir dispute in his address to the General Assembly. Oct. 1993: Ms Robin Raphael, Asst. Sec of State disputed JK’s accession to India. 5 Jan 1994: US Official James Michael visited Kashmir. 6-7 Jan 1994: Michael Mechr, British shadow Minister for Citizens Rights visited the valley. 9 Jan 1994: Mig McDermott, US Congressman accompanied by Miss Marcia Barmicatt, 1st Secretary US Embassy and Charles Michael William; Chief of the Staff visited the valley. 7-9 Feb 1994: Envoys of Greece, Belgium, Germany and European Community in New Delhi visited the valley. 15 Feb 1994 British diplomat Parham Philip Johan, First Secretary and F. David visited Srinagar.

Why did these people make a beeline to the valley? Who were they meeting with in Srinagar? What were they talking about?

All that we understand is that a secret conspiracy on international level was being hatched to dislodge India in Kashmir. Armed insurgency in the valley, killing and extirpation of a small Hindu community and collapse of civil administration were the preliminaries of that conspiracy.

Let us recollect events closer to the day of passing the resolution in question.
In Sept 1992, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) decided by consensus to send a fact finding mission to Kashmir. On Feb 5, 1993, MEA was alarmed over OIC members seeking visas for its fact finding mission. OIC was bolstered by the flurry of diplomatic thrust from the US and UK during past ten months.

Pakistan raised the pitch of propaganda of suppression and oppression of Kashmiri Muslims.

India had to react. Astute statesman and a patriot to the hilt, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao played his cards with rare alacrity. At this critical juncture he got the unanimous resolution passed on 22 February 1994.

The events that shaped just 12 days after the resolution was passed exposed the most dangerous game plan of our adversaries. Let me recount the bizarre story.

On 27 February 1994, five days after the resolution of the Indian Parliament, Pakistan got a resolution (L-40, item 12 of Feb 27, 1994) tabled at the UN Human Rights Commission (now Council) or UNHRC in Geneva through OIC that condemned India for violation of human rights in Kashmir.
If passed UN Security Council would have imposed economic sanctions on India. Internationalising of Kashmir issue became a reality.

At this critical juncture Prime Minister PV Narasimaha Rao himself took the charge of things. He personally flew from Davos to Germany in February itself.

Proving himself a remarkable statesman and a patriot to the hilt, PM Rao invited Atal Behari Vajpayee, the leader of the opposition in the Parliament, to lead the Indian team to the UN in Geneva.

Salman Khursheed, then Deputy to our foreign Minister Dinesh Singh, and NC leader Dr Farooq Abdullah were included in the big team. Their qualification was that both were Muslims and aggressive on issues.

New Delhi called six ambassadors who were influential with OIC member countries and other powerful Western nations.

Large teams of Indian and Pakistani former or sitting diplomats, bureaucrats and ministers thronged the UNHRC restaurant in Geneva making the restaurant Manager wisecrack that if Kashmir continues to dominate the scene for sometime more, they may consider starting a curry counter.

Pakistani diplomats dubbed Salman Khursheed “a rented Muslim”. Dr Farooq, with his usual method in madness style, went on telling everybody how playing golf was great in Kashmir. But with a single jab he disarmed his opponents when he challenged them to speak Kashmiri with him to prove their “kashmiriyat”.

But away from UNHR session in Geneva, a side scene was also in progress of which nobody knew except the dramatic personae of the day.

Prime Minister Rao had flown his sick and hospitalised Foreign Minister Dinesh Singh to Teheran by a chartered plane. Indian Foreign Minister’s unscheduled visit surprised Iranian government.  Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, a personal friend of Prime Minister Rao, cancelled all his scheduled engagements of the day and received Dinesh at Mehrabad airport to be driven straight to the President Hashmi Rafsinjani for whom Dinesh had brought a small letter from the Indian Prime Minister.

By strange coincidence, Chinese Foreign Minister, Aian Qichen happened to be in Teheran then. Dinesh Singh met with him also. The meeting was meaningful when evaluated in the backdrop of Uighur East Turkistan Movement in Chinese province of Xingjian (Sinkiang).
Later that night, Dinesh flew back home and drove straightway to his hospital bed.

But wait. The masterstroke came with Vajpayee yoking in the London-based Indian business tycoon, the Hindujas, who have very close links with Iran.  After the Hindujas hammered out the issue in Teheran, the scene shifted to Geneva where the Hindujas host a memorable banquet to celebrate national victory.

In yet another bizarre coincidence, a junior Indian diplomat in Geneva simultaneously engaged in deliberations on a different matter voted on a resolution in favour of Beijing.

Finally, New Delhi took a big tactical decision by virtue of which it scuttled George Fernandez’s international seminar on Tibet issue.

With shrewd movement of pawns on international chessboard, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and Atal Behari Vajpayee effectively neutralised Iran and Chine, two important actors in Pakistan’s anti-India game plan.

The entire adversarial structure assiduously raised by our enemies began crumbling down like a house of cards. On 7 March 1994, Indonesia and Libya withdraw support to the OIC Resolution. Syria ran away saying it would reconsider the draft if revised.

On March 9, 1994, the final day, Iran asked for deferment of voting as consultations were on. By 5 PM that day, crestfallen Pakistan having lost China and Iran, ignominiously withdrew the resolution. (Note: This writer was an eye witness to this melodrama as he was physically present at the UNHRC in Geneva at the moment).

India won a great diplomatic victory and the two most distinguished statesmen, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and the then opposition leader Atal Behari Vajpayee showed what Indian policy planners were capable of doing to protect national interests. Today, those who are trying to draw a wedge between the two largest mainstream political parties of the country ought to take a lesson or two from this story.

Not disputing timely effectiveness of the Resolution in question, it does bring forth some important questions in the context of Kashmir issue.

Will India really go to war with Pakistan since Pakistan has no intention of vacating aggression? Did the Resolution really prove a deterrent to Pakistan’s vicious designs against us? Although Pakistan failed in getting UNHRC Resolution passed against India, yet did she not succeed in internationalising Kashmir issue? Did not the Resolution alert Pakistan prompting her to hasten the production of nuclear weapon four years later? Did it actually expose division with OIC or did it cement mutual relationship among its members?

This expose should excite interest among researchers and commentators to debate how Indian leadership in post 1994 era knowingly watered down the thrust of the Resolution and made a mockery of it by calling Kashmir a “unique problem that asks for unique solution”.

This apart, some questions arise and need to be answered. If a resident of Muzaffarabad approaches an Indian court of law to allow him permanent residence in Kashmir, will the court grant it in the light of the resolution? Why should there be the need for visa or permit for a resident of PoK to conduct trade with the Indian part of Kashmir through cross-LoC check points at Salamabad and Chaka da Bagh in Uri and Poonch respectively? Will India approach the International Court at The Hague with the application to ask Pakistan to vacate Gilgit and Baltistan because the Azad Kashmir (PoK) High Court, in a judgement has declared Gilgit and Baltistan not a part of Pakistan but of the original State of Jammu and Kashmir?
(The author is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University, Srinagar).

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