A word with Antonio Guterres
Kashmir problem is a loud crying forsaken baby of the United Nations Security Council left in a cradle of barbs. For the past sixty-nine years, it has been forcefully asking the august body to take it out of this painful situation. And whenever there is a change of guard in the world organization, people of Jammu and Kashmir start pinning hopes with the new incumbent. That living up to his duties he will work for the resolution of long outstanding Kashmir dispute on its agenda according to the resolution passed on the floor of the august body in 1948 and 1949.
On 1 January 2017, António Guterres took over as the ninth Secretary General of the United Nations. Immediately after his appointment to the topmost diplomatic position in the world, he started taking interest for the resolution of the Cyprus and working for reuniting the divided Mediterranean island after more than four decades. His interest in settlement of the Cyprus problem generated a hope in people of the state as well as provoked a question in the media if he will show the same amount of interests in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Moreover, because of having become a nuclear flashpoint in the South Asian region it is more dangerous to the world peace than Cyprus- something acknowledged by many a top world leaders. In a press briefing, few days after the takeover of Guterres UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told journalists that new Secretary-General was deeply interested in the resolution of the Kashmir problem.
However, he had clarified that in this regards he had not then got in touch with Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan. On May 8, Pakistan raised the Kashmir issue with the Secretary General. During the hour-long meeting between the ambassadors of the OIC and the Secretary General, Pakistan's ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi dwelling upon in detail on the situation in Kashmir explained how it had escalated tensions between the two countries that could destabilize South Asia. It seems that unlike many of his predecessors in office, António Guterres prefers to work behind the scene for achieving something tangible rather than issuing mere statements having yielded nothing in as much as the resolution of Kashmir problems or mitigating the sufferings of people of the state are concerned. His forerunners Bank Ki-moon, Kofi Anan, and Boutries Boutros Gali have time and again shown concern about the non-resolution of the Dispute. During their terms in office, they did work for deescalating tension on the LOC. Nevertheless, regarding the resolution of the Kashmir Dispute, all the three did not live up to the charter of their organization for ensuring its settlement in line with the various UNSC resolution to which both India and Pakistan are signatories. The 1990s armed rebellion and mass uprisings and intifadas of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016, did provide them an opportunity to go beyond routine statements and involving proactively in resolving the dispute. The early nineties, in fact for the cold war politics having expired and the unipolar world had provided the UN opportunities to press the two parties to the dispute for the execution of the UN resolutions on Kashmir.
The only super power in the 1990s the United States had forgotten about its post-India-China war Kashmir policy and revived its old policy on the dispute. Now, it 'viewed the whole of Kashmir as disputed territory, the status of which needs to be resolved. It did not recognize the instrument of accession as meaning that Kashmir is forever an integral part of India.' Had Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto governments acted smart they could have sought the direct intervention of the organization under the various provision of Chapter VI and VII the charter.
Article 34 reads:
"The Security Council may investigate any dispute or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to disputes in order to determine whether the continuance of dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security."
Clause 1 of Article 35 reads: "Any member of the United Nations may bring any dispute or any situation of nature referred to in Article 34, to the attention of the Security Council or of General Assembly." Kashmir surrounded by three nuclear powers and the dispute over its future has brought the region to the brink of a nuclear holocaust. The organization could also Sua Sponte act invoke a provision in its charter for preventing a nuclear war in the region and settling the dispute. It sounds promising that the new Secretary General instead of asking the two countries ritualistically for bringing down the tension on the LoC is engaged in quiet diplomacy to promote a dialogue on Kashmir between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. During past couple of months, he had three meetings with Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif and two meetings with Prime Minister, Narendra Moti, as he rightly told the newsmen it is 'quite a number of meetings."
In the recent past, of course, during past two decades, it is for the first time when the UN Secretary General is so intensely involved and engaged in bringing about the dialogue between the South Asian neighbors to resolve the Kashmir dispute. It shows his deep commitment and involvement with the resolution of the Kashmir. He is mandated to mediate and intervene directly through various UN resolutions on Kashmir. It is time for New Delhi to trash can Nehru's Kashmir policy based on evasion and procrastination that has caused four wars between the two countries and perpetuated bitterness between the two South Asian neighbors to enormous sufferings to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. So far the dispute has consumed about half a million people. Statesmanship would be to resolve the conflict in accord with its gensis and recognizing people's right to decide their future.