India, wanting a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir Conflict, referred the problem to the United Nations for intervention. When the Security Council met with the two countries, India immediately accused Pakistan of aggression by lodging a formal complaint with the council[i], which was flatly denied. Pakistan also suggested that Kashmir’s accession to the Indian Union was illegal as Hari Singh had signed the instrument of accession under duress and he had already been usurped by the indigenous Kashmiri revolt.
In May 1948, Pakistan admitted to the sponsorship of the rebels who raided the borders, but defended their actions by saying it was in response to the revolt, which is more commonly known as the uprising in the Poonch district of Kashmir in 1947. The revolt was an anti- Maharaja Hari Singh movement and was due to a variety of factors, including how the people of the area already associated themselves with Pakistan and were dissatisfied with the protection provided by the Maharaja for them against anti-Muslim violence. In addition, Poonch had a large presence of ex-servicemen of the British Army, many of who were equipped with firearms. These people were asked to deposit these weapons with the J&K police in good faith but were alarmed to find out that the police had been ordered to distribute these same weapons to the Hindus and Sikhs in Kashmir for their self-defense. This furthered religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims in the area. [ii] As a result, the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was formed to ensure peaceful negotiation to return stability to Kashmir.
During the negotiations, the resolution of August 13th 1948 was created and it was decided that India would be responsible for the security of Kashmir and that a plebiscite would be held to determine which country would have control over the territory. To create a situation for this scenario, the Council drafted the United Nations Security Council Resolution 47, the predecessor to which was resolution 39[iii]. Resolution 47 called for a plebiscite to be held for Kashmir’s citizens, an enlargement of the UNCIP’s membership and was passed under Chapter 6 of the UN charter. Resolutions under this Chapter were considered non-binding and non-enforceable, which was not the case for resolutions passed under Chapter 7[iv]. The mandates given to India and Pakistan under the terms of this resolution were numerous, some of which are as follows:
- The Government of Pakistan was to secure the withdrawal of Pakistani nationals and tribesmen who have entered the state of Jammu and Kashmir with the intent of fighting, and to prevent any further intrusion of such elements into the state. Furthermore, supply of any material aid to those fighting in the state was to be immediately ceased.
- Upon the removal of tribesmen and military of Pakistan from Kashmir, India was to begin the withdrawal of its own military until only the bare minimum required to maintain law and order remained.
- Furthermore, the remaining Indian troops should not pose any form of intimidation to the inhabitants of the state and as small a number as possible should be retained in forward areas.
- The Government of India should ensure the delegation of powers to the Plebiscite Administration as required by them for conducting an impartial plebiscite wherein the Kashmiri people will decide on the matter of accession to either India or Pakistan. [v]
The non-binding and non-enforceable nature of Resolution 47 due to it being passed under Chapter 6 and not 7 of the UN Charter meant that Pakistan could not be forced to fulfill the mandates given to it. Hence, it refused the idea of a plebiscite as they argued that an impartial vote could never be held[vi]. They also refused to call back their troops and there was no agreement on the demilitarization of Azad Kashmir. Another problem was that although the Prime Ministers of both countries agreed to keep peaceful relations, the Pakistani press and local leaders started campaigns against India which created unfavorable conditions for peace. To make matters worse, Pakistan signed the US-Pakistan military aid pact and although they argued it was for their own defense and had nothing to do with the issue at hand, it was directly in violation of peace talks.
With the failure of an agreement between the two countries and the plebiscite, Kashmir remains a volatile region. Without any action from either side, a peaceful resolution was simply impossible.
[i] “Indian Complaint to the Security Council, Lst January 1948.” Indian Complaint to the Security Council, Lst January 1948. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
[ii] “643 Christopher Snedden, The Forgotten Poonch Uprising of 1947.” 643 Christopher Snedden, The Forgotten Poonch Uprising of 1947. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
[iii] “United Nations Official Document.” UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
[iv] “UN Security Council Resolution 47, Kashmir.” Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
[v]”UN Security Council Resolution 47, Kashmir.” Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
[vi] Sharma.BL. The Kashmir Story. Asia Publishing House. 1967.