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The UN’s Failure In Indo-Pak ‘Bump’: Causes And Consequences – OpEd

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The word ‘bump’ here means ‘rivalry’ or ‘conflict’. The acronym elucidate the situation of contention between two different poles of power or opinion. This bump can be seen in the Indo-Pak relations and the recent episode of Pulwama terror attack in February 2019 further proved the narrative. There are many outstanding issues contributing into this bump but the issue of Jammu & Kashmir is a root cause of Indo-Pak dyad.

Before the Pulwama attack many other incidents greatly increased the gravity of tensions between the two nuclear rivals. The antagonism threw them into three full-fledged wars and in a limited conflict over Kargil in 1999, but the issue of Kashmir remains the point of persistent rivalry. As we have observed that Kashmir is a primary cause of contention between India and Pakistan, then it is necessary to probe that to what extent Kashmir is contributing in Indo-Pak bump and what role the UN has been playing in conflict resolution?

The rivalry over Jammu & Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint between India and Pakistan which pushed the two states into direct wars. If we examine the history then we came to understand that conflict started soon after the partition of India in 1947 as the dispute over former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which consequently escalated three wars between India and Pakistan and several other armed skirmishes. The first ever war was broke out in 1947 and ended in 1948 by ceasefire resolution of the United Nations Security Council. This ceasefire resolution divided Kashmir into areas controlled by Pakistan and India respectively by” ceasefire line”.

The second Indo-Pakistani war was fought from April 8 to September 23, 1965. This war was terminated by the Tashkent declaration. The primary battlefield was Kashmir and in this war Soviet Union played the active role of mediator. An India-Pakistan meeting was held in Tashkent on January 4, 1966. This declaration brought a short sighted peace through ignoring the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir which again brought the two nations into battlefields in December 1971. This war was largely fought in East Pakistan, but the conclusion of war was the dismemberment of Pakistan now known as Bangladesh. In early years of independence, the United Nations has played the active role to resolve the dispute but the geopolitical factors and irredentist behavior of India did not brought any fruits.

A fourth mini war was started between India and Pakistan at Kargill, the line of control. The wars fought by India and Pakistan were aim to integrate Kashmir through military means but went fruitless. If we observe the rivalry of indo-Pak in theoretical context then the IR theory of realism explain that states are rational and always preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity. The anarchical International system compel states to maximize their military power to ward off threat of aggressor states and leave little room for negotiations and peaceful relations. The security dilemma derive foreign policies of nation states as it allow them to balance of power of rival state. Meanwhile the preservation of territory is another prominent feature of realist school of thought. The realists claim that the concept of modern nation states is based on territorial gains and states are selfish in this case. So the case of India and Pakistan rivalry over Jammu and Kashmir dispute can been seen with realist lens.

Contrary to realist school of thought, liberals argue that although anarchy exist in international politics and states are rational for sovereignty, but the conflict can be managed through international organizations and economic interdependence. So in the light of liberal point of view we can say that arbitration or third party involvement is one of the method to resolve the conflict. In Kashmir conflict the major involvement for the conflict resolution is the role of United Nations. The United Nations is an international organization with objectives to maintain world peace and security through mediation and dialogue. So here it is necessary to investigate the role of UN in the Indo-Pak rivalry.

The United Nations intervened in the conflict in 1948 at the request of India and managed a ceasefire in the first war. From 1948 to 1971 the UN passed 23 resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir dispute. The first UNSC resolution was passed on 17 January 1948 urging Indian and Pakistan for restraint. Three days later the Security Council passed another resolution creating the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan to investigate the dispute and to start mediation between the two countries led by the British and the United State, but failed to reach on conclusion. Later on January 5, 1949 the United Nations came with a new plane for a plebiscite. This time the UN proposed that the State of Jammu and Kashmir should be given under the full control of plebiscite administration and administrator enjoy quasi sovereign power over the state of Jammu and Kashmir but the proposal was rejected by the Indian side.

Another effort was made in December 1949, when the President of UN Security Council tried to be a mediator between India and Pakistan but failed to manage an agreement between the two sides. All these attempts of UN failed to solve the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan. The early years of conflict witnessed the active role of UN but the earlier enthusiasm was lost in late sixties and seventies. This time the UN only passed resolutions condemning the Indian atrocities in Jammu & Kashmir and urging two sides to resolve the conflict through dialogue. Before reaching on any conclusion, it is necessary to probe that what are the possible factors behind UN failure to resolve the dispute.

There are the several reasons of UN failure in Kashmir. At first, the UN has no proper enforcing power for the implementation of its decisions. Unlike the national governments, the UN is dependent on major powers for military and policing tasks and the restive national interests of major powers sometimes make difficult for UN to deploy forces in a given situation and the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir is an example of competing national interests of major powers.

Secondly, being a major regional power, India has more voice on regional and international forums which gives enhance its capacity to reject the UN proposals for conciliation. Another reason is the geopolitics of major powers particularly the United States. The geopolitical struggle and the military economy restrain the United States to play any affective role in the conflict resolution. Fourth is the Indo-U.S strategic partnership to contain the rising China. The United States cannot afford Indian anger while playing constructive role in Kashmir conflict. The core interest of U.S. is to maintain healthy relationship with New Delhi to secure its national interests in the wider Indian Ocean region.

Last but not least is the UN dependence on its member states to maintain its functions. The financial and human dependence on the U.S. and India hamper the United Nations efforts to resolve the conflict. Therefore, the above mention scenario reveal that the near future will not witness the major role of UN in the resolution of Kashmir conflict.

*Authors are Graduate Students of International Relations at Women University of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Bagh Pakistan



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