Joint Indo-Pak patrolling of LoC? — II
For India the acceptance of the LoC as an international border pure and simple under the garb of bilateralism is the acid test of any proposal. India has already got away with murder by not implementing the UN resolutions on Kashmir
The Indian motive in getting UNMOGIP replaced by a joint India-Pakistan patrol is essentially linked to denying any role to the UN or for that matter any other third party in Kashmir. As we mentioned in the previous part, India looks at the issue as a natural corollary to the bilateralism of the Simla Agreement, which in its view, was a major consequence of the 1971 war, apart from the independence of Bangladesh. In fact, India has been at pains to emphasise bilateralism on the issue of Kashmir almost immediately after it took the Kashmir question to the UN in order to get the UNSC to declare Pakistan an aggressor and direct the tribesmen and the Pakistani troops to vacate areas captured by them in the former princely State. The Indian perception was not shared by members of the Security Council who not only refused to declare Pakistan an aggressor State but also favoured granting the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir to decide their future through a UN-sponsored plebiscite.
Ever since the adoption of the UN Kashmir resolutions during 1948-49, India has been trying to get the issue removed from the agenda of the world body. It partially succeeded in its efforts when it got the Kashmir dispute accepted as a bilateral matter between the two countries in the Simla Agreement. In this perspective, the existence of UNMOGIP constitutes a hurdle in the way of getting Kashmir completely off the international agenda. That explains why India is so keen to get UNMOGIP replaced by joint patrolling.
Suspecting India’s motive, Pakistan has categorically rejected such an idea and wants to continue with the existing peacekeeping arrangement under the UN. This is because being the weaker party in the dispute it hopes for a more favourable settlement through a third party rather than through a bilateral approach. In fact the bilateral approach has been most frustrating for Pakistan as evidenced by the utter lack of progress in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute over the last several decades.
On whether joint patrolling can effectively deal with ‘cross-border terrorism’, the proposition is highly dubious. For joint patrolling to be an effective mechanism, a common understanding of the purpose of such an exercise is imperative. For India the LoC constitutes a de facto border; in its opinion, Kashmir was virtually partitioned at Simla in 1972 and if it were not written in the Agreement it was because, having lost East Pakistan, the government of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto would not have survived such an overt concession to the arch foe.
Pakistan strongly rejects any suggestion, oblique or otherwise, that the LoC constitutes an international border. On this it specifically refers to the clause in the Simla Agreement asking the parties to respect the LoC without prejudice to the recognised positions of either State. Further, it refers to the clause acknowledging the fact that the final settlement of Kashmir is yet to be effected. It brushes aside any suggestion of a secret clause or understanding reached at Simla whereby the LoC was recognised as an international border.
Similarly, India terms the insurgency in Kashmir as ‘terrorism’, while Pakistan looks at it as a ‘freedom struggle’. For the latter the struggle draws support from the UN’s Kashmir resolutions that recognise the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. For the former the insurgency is nothing but terrorism and the resolutions in question are dead and buried.
Behind these apparent semantic differences lies the huge divergence of worldviews on Kashmir. For India, the latter is an integral part of its territory whose fate was decided in 1947 through the valid accession made by Maharaja Hari Singh in favour of India. For Pakistan, it is yet to be disposed of through a UN-sponsored plebiscite as stipulated in the UN resolutions. In the presence of such divergent perceptions can joint patrolling have any meaning at all?
Finally, regarding the question that are there other options available if the idea of joint patrol by the two countries does not seem to work out, a number of proposals have been made by Pakistan and by third parties, principally by the US and the UK, to replace UNMOGIP by troops from certain friendly countries, the Commonwealth or Great Britain. However, India’s response has been in the negative.
Last year, the US Defence Secretary proposed the installation of electronic ground censors such as infrared cameras — of the type used on the US-Mexican border to control illegal immigration — as well as sophisticated radars. The censors, especially IR thermal sensors are so advanced, according to Col. Brian Cloughley, a South Asia defence specialist and former UNMOGIP Chief Operations Officer, that they can tell the number of men on the move, types of weapons (whether heavy or small weapons) they are carrying and the manner of their movement. India fully agreed to the proposal, provided the surveillance mechanism was deployed on the Pakistan side of the LoC.
Given the negative Indian response to the different proposals, it goes without saying that India is interested in the problem of ‘cross-border terrorism’ being addressed on its (New Delhi’s) terms. Simply put, for India the acceptance of the LoC as an international border pure and simple under the garb of bilateralism is the acid test of any proposal. India has already got away with murder by not implementing the UN resolutions on Kashmir as the major powers unfortunately acquiesced to the Indian viewpoint that they were dead and buried. It even succeeded in getting the Kashmiris’ armed struggle accepted as terrorism by the same powers because it suited them. The acceptance of joint patrolling which the Pakistan delegation proposed perhaps in all naivety would be the last nail in the coffin of the Kashmiris’ right of self-determination.
In conclusion, we would suggest that the best way to go about dealing with the question of ‘cross-border terrorism’ is to strengthen the existing arrangements under the UN. This finds justification because it is not violative of the Simla Agreement as spelled out in the legal opinion sought by the Secretary-General as mentioned in the previous article (see first part). Besides, there is no reason why the international community should appease a delinquent State like India which is clearly proceeding in bad faith.
This is the second of a two-part series. The first part was published on Wednesday, May 28, 2003. The writer is Professor Department of International Relations, Dean of Social Sciences Quaid-e-Azam University, and author of several books