Re-energizing the Kashmir Dispute

Spearhead Analysis – 09.08.2016

By Ayesha N.I. Ahmad
Research Analyst, Spearhead Research

Safeguarding national security and geo-strategic interests, including Kashmir”—Declared foreign policy objective of Pakistan.


Kashmir-IssueSince the Prime Minister’s speech at the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), held on September 26, 2014, it has become clear that the state is returning to its traditional position on the Kashmir Dispute. This reiteration of what Pakistan terms as a ‘principled position’ has been highlighted by the current regime at all important national forums along with the proclamation of a four point formula at the 70th session of UNGA in 2015. This renewed vigor shown by the Pakistani State in the last 22 months on the Kashmir dispute is positive and sends a confident message about its intention to, once again, make the dispute a priority with the United Nations Organization (UNO).

For Kashmir to remain a priority issue, it has become essential for the state to internationally highlight that the Simla Agreement, which underlines the pertinence of resolution of disputes between the two countries through bilateral dialogue, does not change the status of the Kashmir dispute at the UNO. The agreement in no way prohibits the possibility of raising the issue at the United Nations in case bilateral dialogue fails to deliver. Article 103 of the UN charter clearly states, “In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the members of the UN under the present charter, and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present charter will prevail.” This article clearly enunciates that the UN resolutions on Kashmir will take primacy over all other international agreements (bilateral or so) on the same issue. Furthermore, it is important to educate at state and international forums that the UN resolutions on Kashmir adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter remain legally binding on the parties. Article 25 further reiterates their binding nature.

Pakistan would be correct and well within its right to invoke the initial UN resolutions on Kashmir as it has become clear that bilateral dialogue with India has and will continue to fail. In doing so, Pakistan can remind the world that the legal status and obligations of the parties to the dispute, under UN and Security Council regulations to have its resolutions implemented, remains unchanged.

Based on this argument Pakistan should re-energize the Kashmir Issue at the UNO on the basis of three salient criteria: legality of the existing resolutions, human rights abuses and serious threat to global & regional peace.


At the UN, Pakistan needs to start the debate for the appointment of a Special Representative of Secretary General (SRSG) for Kashmir. To advocate for such an appointment, the examples of Josef Korbel and Owen Dixon need to be cited. The debates need to continuously highlight that if conflict zones like Afghanistan, Iraq, Rwanda, CAR, Algeria-Morocco have, or have had SRSGs, then Kashmir – being the oldest dispute at the UNO – surely merits an SRSG too.

Furthermore, the United Nations Military Observer Group for India & Pakistan (UNMOGIP) needs to be energized on both sides of the Line of Control (LOC). The provision of weekly reports by the UN Peace Keeping Department (DPKO) to the Secretary General, and Security Council through its Assistant Secretary General (ASG) for Peace Keeping, should be stressed upon. International pressure needs to be built on India to reopen the UNMOGIP station in Srinagar and Delhi. The field stations along the LOC on the Indian side should also be activated. The opening of the Srinagar station will hopefully document, without bias, the human rights violations and excessive use of force by Indian military and Para-military forces.

Additionally, the Pakistan permanent representative (PR) to the United Nations Head Quarter’s should form a coffee club for diplomats on Kashmir. Intensive lobbying in the corridors of the UN must be done. Regular interactions must be undertaken with New York City and Washington D.C based think tanks. The centrality of the Kashmir dispute in relation to the India-Pakistan conflict is well known and globally recognized as a trigger for a nuclear conflagration. India and China have an unresolved border dispute and both oppose each other internationally yet this has not stopped them from ratcheting up their bilateral trade. Sound arguments should be made in how to achieve the same mutually beneficial balance without presenting the flawed argument that the economic relationship with India should trump all other outstanding issues.

The July 2016 Kashmir uprising, after the killing of Burhanuddin Wani, is purely indigenous, youth led and has no religious tint. This should be the uprisings strength and the way forward. The narrative of Islamic Terror and its suggested linkages with Kashmir freedom struggle need to be changed. Pakistan should also take into account the intellectual voices being raised from the civil society within India in favor of the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination, stoppage of human rights abuses and about a population in distress. There should be consideration about how this intellectual discourse within India and Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) can be reinforced and intensified under the umbrella of UNO.

In Geneva, the Pakistani Permanent Representative with the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) should hold regular briefings about human rights violations that are taking place as a result of this dispute for the concerned UNHCR representatives. Documented facts and visual images of human right abuses should be regularly circulated and presented to relevant NGO’s in Geneva. The permanent representative should insist and lobby for a UNHCR fact-finding mission to visit the valley.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has an observer status in UNO that needs to be nudged for raising attention on Kashmir. The OIC appointed a Special Representative for Kashmir in 2008. The same representative is also the ASG for Political Affairs of the OIC. The OIC should be approached by Pakistan to take up the case with India for allowing its representative to visit IHK (basically the valley) to ascertain the human rights violations. The OIC should be reminded that its Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) has already called for an immediate end to the ongoing abrasive human rights violations and extra judicial killings of Kashmiri’s in Indian held Kashmir.

Lastly, the role of the Pakistan parliament’s 24-member special committee on Kashmir is appalling. The committee was established to project the Kashmir cause on the world stage. Despite having an annual budget of Rs. 66 million, it appears to be entirely dysfunctional. The Kashmir committee should be refashioned and made dynamic. It should include relevant entities, such as the intelligentsia, Pakistani diaspora living in USA, EU and UK, and true stakeholders living in Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. It is essential that this committee reshapes, re-strategizes and takes appropriate measures to project the Kashmir issue through consistent coherent global campaigns and activism. Through these efforts, support and interest in the dispute should be reactivated at the social and humanitarian level across the world.


For the time being there is no military option for India in the Kashmir valley. The present uprising is in a very nascent stage. However, if it goes beyond controllable limits then all bets may be off and India might need to consider the possibility of a short military option to stop the uprising from gaining international legitimacy. The main architect of the Indian policy on Pakistan is National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. He has famously conceived and designed the Doval Doctrine based on his publicly outlined offensive approach to Pakistan. India’s moves regarding the Kashmir cause need to be looked at in this regard. Based on this doctrine, it means at present sapping the will of Pakistan on Kashmir. Pakistan for its part needs to examine the contours and nuances of the Doval doctrine and reshape its policy narrative which in its current form was made in response to the Gujral doctrine.

In conclusion, a very deliberate over arching paradigm shift in foreign policy has to be under taken by Pakistan towards the Kashmir dispute. Realistically, Pakistan must be prepared to fight an uphill battle to find a peaceful resolution to Kashmir. The United Nations itself remains unenthusiastic about implementing the Kashmir resolutions. The international community will not easily lend support to the cause of the Kashmiri’s and will, currently, not highlight or want the reemergence of the issue at the UN forum. The United States has a declared policy of wanting India and Pakistan to resolve their differences through bilateral dialogue and is even averse to playing a mediating role. However, the international environment and changed regional realities have opened a window of opportunity. The overt nuclearization of the region (by India) has the potential to change the matrix – provided Pakistan resolutely once again takes up the Kashmir Dispute and does not repeat past mistakes.