For a lady who said that Pakistan should use nuclear weapons in the event of a war with India, Pakistan’s new Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari is certainly making waves again with a proposal for resolution of the Kashmir issue. Reports indicate that Pakistan is preparing a new proposal for solution to the Kashmir issue, clearly showing that Shireen Mazari wants to keep the Pak Army in good books. Details of the new proposal are still sketchy, but a perusal of Imran Khan’s statement just prior to assuming office, and past precedence indicates that it will be a rehash of the old Pak position of having a referendum in Jammu & Kashmir.
Minister Shireen Mazari is said to be working on a ‘model of conflict resolution’ for Kashmir. Pertinently, Prime Minister Imran Khan had mentioned, on taking oath of office that Kashmir is a ‘core issue’ and that both India and Pakistan needed to sit together to resolve the matter. What Imran Khan said then was in effect a googly thrown at India, in the sense that he compared India accusing Pakistan of promoting state sponsored terrorism in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, just as Pakistan did the same for India in Balochistan. Is India to assume that bilateral talks on terrorism should begin with both sides accusing of fomenting trouble in each other’s country? What a waste of time when the world knows who is the actual sponsor of terrorism around the globe!
Past experience of India-Pakistan relations indicates that Pakistan’s position currently will not be too different. A reading of comments made by Shireen Mazari on the OHCHR Report on Kashmir, provide some clues to her thinking in this regard. At the end of June 2018, Mazari firstly criticized the then government for meekly responding to the OHCHR Report and not using in international platforms to criticize India. Mazari said that “The report is a credible account of the human rights situation that prevails on both sides of Kashmir and is a first step, since the UNSC resolutions, recognising its responsibility to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the said resolutions”.
Shireen Mazari while analyzing what Pakistan’s position on Kashmir stated in June 2018 that her country should “reiterate the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir and state their linkage to similar UNSC resolutions on East Timor (UNSC Resolution 384 of December 1975 and UNSC Resolution 389 of 1976), which were enforced in 1999, leading to East Timor’s independence from Indonesia through an UN-conducted plebiscite”. She added that it was crucial to remind the world of the parallels between Kashmir and East Timor at all diplomatic forms. This is exactly what the new PTI government is likely to do.
Mazari argues that the case of Kashmiris is even stronger because the ‘occupying power’ as she titles India, itself took the dispute to the UN under Chapter VI: Pacific Settlement of Disputes. So both Pakistan and India agreed to have UN intervention and the plebiscite. Someone needs to remind Shireen Mazari that it is Pakistan which is the occupying power. Pakistan is the country which first attacked the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir and refused to withdraw its regular and irregular forces from the state even after a UNSC Resolution had proposed so in 1949!
In Mazari’s mind, what the Pakistan government should present to the international community is a blueprint for conflict resolution premised upon the principle of ‘self-determination and a plebiscite’. For this purpose, she wants Pakistan to go beyond paying lip service to UNSC Resolutions and to work more vigorously with the framework of the UNSC to find solutions.
To her, a variety of conflict resolution models exist in different parts of Europe that have been successfully enforced, where territorial disputes linked with the issue of self-determination prevailed. There is the Aland Island case, the Trieste case, the Andorra case and, the most viable for resolution of the Kashmir conflict, the Good Friday Agreement, which resolved the Northern Ireland conflict. This agreement was plugged actively by the US, which put pressure especially on the UK, in order to resolve the Northern Ireland conflict.
What Shireen Mazari wants essentially is third party mediation in the Kashmir issue, so that Pakistan can get what it wants. She tends to forget conveniently, that Kashmir is an issue of bilateral concern and within that rubric, the question of Pakistan’s illegal occupation of the Northern Areas and so-called Azad Kashmir must be discussed. The right of self-determination and a plebiscite would apply equally to these areas, if that is indeed Pakistan’s case.
According to Mazari, the Ireland agreement is an international agreement between the British and Irish governments with two components: the legal agreement between the UK and the Republic of Ireland; and a lengthier agreement signed between eight political parties involved in the Northern Ireland conflict and the two governments (UK and Irish). Her primary aim is to attach the principles underlying the Irish agreement to the Kashmir issue and argues that this “need(s) to be the basis of any substantive solution relating to this dispute”.
The focus of her attention is on the fact that the Irish model is “premised on the principle of the right of self-determination and not merely territorial control”. Shireen Mazari revealed in June 2018 that the PTI was already in the process of preparing a detailed blueprint towards conflict resolution on Kashmir, premised on the principles underlying the UNSC resolutions and the principle of self-determination.
A perusal of the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1985 reveals that it was a ‘consociational agreement’, wherein the main principle is that of consent. One wonders what basis will Pakistan create legally or otherwise that might lead to a mutual consent between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. If the basic premise is going to be the principle of self-determination, or autonomy then we have a stumbling block, as this cannot apply solely to the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir and should legally apply to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir also.
The question is why now? What prompted the PTI to take up the Kashmir issue as the ‘core issue’? For Pakistan, irrespective of political lineage, Kashmir is a ‘core issue’. This has also been the case for the Pak military. In fact, the precise reason for the ‘success’ of Shireen Mazari is that she is a hawk and the military in Pakistan would always facour such individuals and their ideas. It would thus send a signal that the civil government led by Imran Khan and the Army are on the same page on Kashmir. India should be prepared for a fresh outburst of Pakistani internationalization of the Kashmir issue under PM Imran Khan and respond accordingly.