By K.N. Pandita
To the satisfaction of large Indian nation the Defence Minister has made a candid but solid statement in the parliament on Indian Union’s sovereignty over the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir. As is his wont, he was brief but clear and decisive. One feels he goes along the footprints of the Great Sardar who integrated nearly five hundred princely states into the Indian Union without making any fuss about it. He was a man of few words. So is A.K. Antony, the odd man among the widely garrulous lot of our political stalwarts of today. What made his speech conspicuous was the absence of ambivalence and ambiguity, something in which few can surpass our contemporary politicians.
He was forthright in saying that fake Indian currency was manufactured in Pakistan and clandestinely imported into India and supplied to the militants and anti-national outfits. Their purpose is to run the engine of terrorism and subversion. This issue has surfaced for some time, and the Reserve Bank of India is vexed. So far no foolproof counter measure has proved successful to stop this practice. But that cannot be an excuse for overlooking the menace and just returning five hundred rupee fake notes to the Reserve Bank for replacement. A way has to be found to stem the tide.
But the more important part of Defence Minister’s statement pertains to the sovereignty of Indian Union over the entire and original State of Jammu and Kashmir. A part of Indian Territory in J&K has been illegally and forcibly occupied by Pakistan. It was the crux of India’s complaint to the Security Council in 1948 made under Article 35 of the UN Charter. Recognizing that Pakistan had illegally sent into Kashmir its armed citizens and troops for forcible occupation of the State, the Security Council in its Resolution of 1948 directed Pakistan to vacate the territory and let Srinagar government take into its hands administration of the entire State. Pakistan failed to withdraw her armed men and troops. As such, she continues her illegal occupation of a part of the original State of Jammu and Kashmir. It was on the basis of this ground situation that the Indian Parliament, in a unanimous resolution of 1994, declared that entire J&K is an integral part of the Indian Union, and the Union had the will and ability to take it back. Defence Minister Antony has echoed that resolution in his statement in the Parliament and made Government of India’s position clear about the status of Jammu and Kashmir. Obviously, the content of this statement will figure in bilateral talks of the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan. Indian Foreign Minister is left with no space to mince words on the subject, and he should convey the message in unequivocal words to his counterpart in Islamabad when he meets with her.
In the same vein, the Defence Minister has been very clear in regard to the status of the LoC in J&K following the Shimla Agreement of 1972. It is to be noted that the change of nomenclature from Cease Fire Line (CFL) to LOAC signifies a transition from a military line separating the two armies brought about by the UN arranged cease fire in 1949 to a political divide which should evolve into a boundary. In pursuance of this clause of Shimla Agreement, Commanders of two sides had met for the delineation and demarcation of the CFL and an agreement to that effect was signed at Suchetgarh on 11 Dec. 1972.
The Shimla Agreement was ratified by the UN, and, under the clauses of UN Charter, once two contesting countries came to an understanding the UN is relieved of its role. So was the UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). India told the UN that in the light of Shimla Agreement, the UNCIP had become irrelevant and its presence in J&K was meaningless. That is the reason why after Shimla Agreement India never reported any border violation incident to the UNCIP just because she declined to recognize its existence. This is also the reason why the small UNCIP team in Srinagar declined to respond to several memoranda which the secessionist-led mobs delivered to them at their Durga Nagar office when militancy was at its peak in Kashmir during mid-1990s.
In reply to a question the Defence Minister also made critical reference to India’s position in regard to Siachin Glacier. Cease fire was drawn in 1949 on the basis of the position held by the armies of the two sides at the end of hostilities, and an agreement to that effect was signed in Karachi on 27 July 1949 by the military commanders of the two sides, and, by the representatives of the UNCIP. Karachi Agreement delineated a cease fire line which was also demarcated on the ground. The Agreement merely stated that the CFL from the last named location (Khor) moved “thence to the north”. In the light of the Agreement, CFL has to be viewed as continuing beyond map coordinate NJ 9842, more or less directly through the Glacier to the Chinese border. This puts most of the Siachin glacier under India’s control. This is the position which Indian Defence Ministry has taken consistently during various rounds of talks with Pakistan about demilitarization of Siachin Glacier
But now notwithstanding these agreements and tacit explanation of ground situation, Pakistan is withdrawing her feet from both Karachi and Shimla Agreement. She is projecting Kashmir as a “disputed territory”, has sent her former Prime Minister to gallows for conceding Shimla Agreement, sponsored and abetted armed insurgency to grab Kashmir, and is demanding “a solution of “Kashmir dispute”. The separatists and even some mainstream vocalists in Kashmir are joining their voice with theirs. India rightfully claims sovereignty over the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir. Three cheers to Defence Minister A.K. Antony for calling a spade by its proper name. He has assured the Parliament that the Defence Ministry is taking all necessary steps to ensure that country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty are not jeopardized by the threats posed by our neighbours.