Spooked over repealing of Article Pakistan throws tantrums, but UNSC hardly bemused as world stands by India

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In the worst possible diplomatic snub that Pakistan has ever received of late, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) president Joanna Wornecka when asked by the media about the status of the letter she received from Pakistan over abrogation of Article 370 by India, her reply was “no comments”. The statement bears testimony to the diplomatic heavy weight exerted by India as world powers be it the USA, UK, Saudi Arabia and UAE have by and large refused to comment on the developments

While the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), UN Secretary General and US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs may have struck alarmist notes over the turn of events in the past few days, the response from India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been steadfastly resolute and unflinching.

In a terse statement the MEA has stated “the recent developments pertaining to Article 370 are entirely the internal affair of India. The Constitution of India was, is and will always be a sovereign matter. Seeking to interfere in that jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed. The GoI regrets the steps announced by Pakistan yesterday and would urge that country to review them”.

Soon after both the houses of Indian parliament moved to repeal Article 370 and Article 35A, Pakistan in a manner akin to a cat dancing on a hot tin roof has moved to downgrade diplomatic relations with India, asking India’s High Commissioner to leave Islamabad, begun reviewing all bilateral arrangements, stopping bilateral trade, banning Bollywood films and content and deciding to take the matter to the UN and UNSC

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called upon India and Pakistan to refrain from taking any steps that would affect the status of Kashmir. He urged both the sides to maintain status-quo. An official from United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) expressed deep concern over the shut down of communications, political detentions and restrictions on peaceful assembly. While another UN official termed the blackout as draconian.

“We are deeply concerned that the latest restrictions in Indian-Administered Kashmir will exacerbate the human rights situation in the region.The fact that hardly any information at all is currently coming out is of great concern in itself” said the UNHRC spokesperson. Contrary to press reporting, the Indian govt. did not consult or inform the US before moving to revoke J&K special constitutional status – stated US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.

With world powers refraining themselves from making any comments despite the ravings and rantings from Pakistan, former diplomat and ex-Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, G Parthasarthy argues “with the repealing of Article 370, Pakistans diplomacy is limited now. The world is with India on Article 370”. Commenting upon Pakistan asking India;s High Commissioner to leave Pakistan, Parthasarthy argued that Pakistan has done nothing new. Replying to the argument that by sending our ambassador back Pakistan has tried to internationalize the issue, Parthasarthy retorted “when have they not done this?”

Parthasarthy has called upon Indian government to step up its lobbying efforts at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) over the issue of Hafiz Saeed. The world financial body is almost on the verge of blacklisting Pakistan over its harboring of declared globally wanted terrorist Hafiz Saeed. He argued “Pakistans reaction to India’s abrogation of Article 370 has been downscaling diplomatic ties and suspending trade. This need not bother India”.

If that was not enough Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Rajya Sabha MP Dr Subramanian Swamy has advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government to go ahead and withdraw the petition filed before the UNSC by then Prime Minister late Jawahar Lal Nehru terming it as illegal arguing that it was done so without the cabinet approval. It remains to be seen whether India really does go ahead and withdraws the petition before the UNSC. If the petition is indeed withdrawn, then Pakistan has no locus-standi in arguing its case, even before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which it plans to do so. According to foreign policy experts, Pakistan cannot move the ICJ and the case is likely to be thrown out by ICJ.

Much water has flown under the bridge since the UNSC resolutions since 1948. The first UN resolution. India has argued that the UNSC resolutions of January 1948 and April 1948 no longer apply in the present context given the fact that Pakistan had breached the provision of maintaining status-quo by attacking India in 1965. Both the UN resolutions of 1948 had asked Pakistan to withdraw the tribesmen and Pakistani nationals which it had sent across the border under disguise of Pakistani army regulars to fight against the regular Indian army.

Moreover, the March 2, 1963 agreement signed between Pakistan and China with the former acceding portion of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) what is better known as Aksai Chin to China, the matters have been complicated further. Add to that in recent years Pakistan has further allowed China to build the mega highway under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through PoK. Furthermore, in a bid to colonize PoK, Pakistan has been settling its retired army generals on lands in PoK to further complicate the matters.

It is little wonder then even the Chinese have raised their hackles as India has moved to declare Ladakh as an Union Territory without an legislature and which will be controlled directly from New Delhi. The territory of Ladakh also borders China. Though China has termed India’s move as “unacceptable”. The MEA has been quick to point out that while India does not meddle in internal affairs of other countries, it expects other countries to refrain from meddling in the internal matters of India.

What needs to be borne here in mind that Pakistan over the years has consistently tried to alter the status-quo which the UNSC had asked it to maintain in 1948. If the UN has turned a blind eye to the acts of Pakistan, it certainly does not have any locus-standi in urging India to maintain its part of the status-quo.

Moreover, the Instrument of Accession signed by last princely ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Raja Hari Singh on October 26, 1947 days before the Pakistani infiltrators were about to reach Srinagar had clearly spelt out the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India. Most importantly the India Independence Act passed by the British parliament had clearly laid down the regions that would form the state of Jammu and Kashmir which included the now PoK.

With Pakistan having already fought four full scale wars with India, the official stand of MEA has been that Pakistan has never complied with the provisions of the UN resolutions since 1948. Add to that its acts of altering the geographical land mass of disputed PoK has meant that the UN actually has lot more to answer for its failure to ask Pakistan to maintain status-quo which it has consistently tried to breach.

The UNHRC has consistently in a partisan manner raised concern over alleged human rights violations in Indian held Kashmir, it is silent on the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Srinagar valley in the 1990’s a result of Pakistani ISI sponsored militancy. Right now be it the UNSC, UNHRC or the US beyond indulging in diplomatic necessities cannot do much as Pakistan has breached several UN resolutions asking it to maintain its status-quo.

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