Gilgit-Baltistan and the Kashmir Issue

 Dilshad Ali Haideri
Advocate High Court

The area of Gilgit-Baltistan remained a flash point to the world powers for their political, military and economic interest throughout in history. According to the recent history Gilgit-Baltistan sometime partially and sometime completely remained under the Sikh, Dogra and British rules. After the invasion of 1819 the areas of Jammu and Kashmir came under the Sikh Empire that extended the Sikh Raj from Afghanistan to Punjab and Punjab to Kashmir. The Ranjeet Singh became the ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was the then largest of the Princely States in the Indian Sub-Continent. There were 560 Princely States in the Indian sub-continent. At the time of partition their fate was hanging in the balance. All of these princely states were autonomous internally while the defense and foreign affairs were in the hands of central British Government.

The partition case of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was dealt arbitrarily, ignoring the principle of partition altogether. This State had Muslim majority consisted of 78% of total population. There were multiple factors besides regional linkage, religious attachments, geographic and natural bondage with the state of Pakistan which obviously favor accession to Pakistan.

According to a statement of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir (includes Gilgit-Baltistan) is a “Jugular Vein of Pakistan” which is undoubtedly a very realistic statement. Pakistan is surviving for more than six decades in the state of suffocation, scarcity and immense pressure because some parts of its jugular vein is under Indian control.

Internationally Gilgit-Baltistan is recognized as a part of disputed territory of former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is a bone of contention between India and Pakistan since partition of Indian Sub-Continent 1947. Four bloody wars have been fought in the span of 67 years between the two States after partition i.e in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999. This long pending Indian Sub-Continent partition matter from the time of British withdrawal from Indian is still to be resolved. This partition depute which is generally called as Kashmir Issue carries highly sensitive military as well as diplomatic dynamics.

India initiated the case before the United Nations to mediate and internationalized itself the Kashmir issue raised after the partition of Indian sub-continent. In 13th August 1948 Resolution of the UN Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) called both India and Pakistan for cease fire and withdrawal of their forces form the State for the purpose of plebiscite under UN to determine the future of the State.

India had promised the right of self-determination to the Kashmir’s when it knocked the UN. This pledge was reiterated by the 47th United Nations Security Council Resolution of 1948 and 80th UNSCR of 1950. The control of the state of J&K was presumed to be a provisional arrangement till the fate of the State to be settled according to the wishes of people by free, transparent and neutral plebiscite.

Two well-known International Instruments, one the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICSECR) both have Article 1 and paragraph 1 in common which says,

“All people have the rights of self-determination, by virtue of that right they freely determine their political states and freely determine their economic, social and cultural development.”

The people of G-B, AJ&K and Indian held Kashmir reserves right of self-determination to determine their own political future because historically and internationally the issue of Kashmir is a matter of establishing right of self-determination. The shortest and peaceful solution of this issue would be the enforcement of UN resolutions in true letter and spirit. The UN resolution of 1948 has clearly directed to resolve this unresolved partition issue through plebiscite under the supervision of international community.

The writer is a freelance researcher and Legal Practitioner associated with Islamabad Bar Association.

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