From Mountbatten to Emma Nicholson
By Dr Shireen M Mazari

The EU Rapporteur on Kashmir, Baroness Nicholson has shown in her report "Kashmir: present situation and future prospects" that politicians of British origin continue to be afflicted by three major traits of their now-dead imperialism -- duplicity, deceit and deception -- at least when it comes to Pakistan and Kashmir. The historical record on Mountbatten's deceit and deception on Kashmir is an established fact and the Nicholson Report on Kashmir shows the same characteristics and is filled with half-truths and distortion of facts -- if not outright lies. To call it controversial is giving it too much credit. Before one goes into the highly questionable process which finally produced this report, let us look into some of the passages of the report that prove my contentions regarding the content.
The preamble is interesting in that it specifically refers to certain European Parliamentary resolutions, including those on the EU-India strategic partnership and EU's economic and trade relations with India as well as the 2004 resolution on the situation in Pakistan. So right from the start, the bias is built-in given that the Indo-EU strategic partnership is a major factor motivating the report as is the issue of Pakistan's internal matters -- a biased start if ever there was one!
The report then goes on to declare, still in the preamble, that "whereas much of Jammu and Kashmir, in particular Azad Jammu and Kashmir, suffers from abject poverty…" Now most data would point to Occupied Kashmir as being particularly suffering from abject poverty, but we know what the intent of the Baroness was.
For those still willing to give some benefit of objectivity to the Baroness, the section on the October 8, 2005, earthquake should be an eye-opener. While the Pakistan government is berated for its inadequate response which, according to the Baroness, allowed "extremists" to move in, the Indian government is commended for its competence in the emergency -- despite Indian press and eyewitness accounts to the contrary. Where the Baroness picked up her information is known and discussed below, but clearly it is incorrect. Of course, the Baroness also uses the opportunity to condemn Pakistan for only offering minimal basic "rights" (her inverted commas) to the AJK Kashmiris, no political rights and so on. The fact that Pakistan has not usurped AJK and made it an integral part of Pakistan as India has done, quite contrary to UN Resolutions, which incidentally are cited as a reference point for the Report in the preamble, is condemned also by the Baroness. In contrast, there is not a word about the suffering of the Kashmiris in Occupied Kashmir after over a decade under the repression of Indian security forces. Ironically, she actually commends Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which is one of the reasons why the Kashmir dispute is facing difficulty in being resolved.
In fact as one goes through the Report, there is less on ways to bring about a resolution of the Kashmir dispute and more on condemning Pakistan -- including on issues unrelated to the dispute such as the Hudood Ordinance and the "difficult situation faced by homosexuals"! Just out of curiosity how many homosexuals did Nicholson interview to come to this conclusion? These are just some of the examples of the truth distortions and incorrect statements contained in the Report.
In a similar vein, some recommendations also have little to do with resolution of the Kashmir dispute. For instance, Nicholson recommends exchanges between the national defense colleges, a Joint Pakistan-India Parliamentary Committee and cultural and other exchanges already on the dialogue agenda. Not much here on actual modalities for conflict resolution.
Why is that so? Because the objective of Baroness Nicholson is not to suggest conflict resolution beyond the legitimatization of the existing status quo. In fact, the Report of the Baroness echoes the ideas of the Delhi Policy Group (DPG) publication on "Frameworks for a Kashmir Settlement" which cleverly seeks to force a solution within the Indian Constitution. The link between the DPG and Baroness Nicholson is not surprising since Radha Kumar, the co-author of the DPG publication, effectively devised the Baroness's agenda in India and stayed by her side throughout in Occupied Kashmir as well as in New Delhi. So much for confidentiality. That is why the Baroness never met the any of the Hurriyat leaders -- neither from the JKLF, JKDPF or any other faction. She only met the pro-India leadership. She then basically lied to the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee in a meeting on 28 November when she insisted she had met the Hurriyat leaders in Srinagar.
The DPG also helped the Baroness organize a post-Report Conference in Brussels where, inexplicably, the Afghanistan ambassador was invited! It is absurd for a European Parliamentary rapporteur to be publicly aligning with a party which has a direct linkage to the issue of the rapporteur's report. But it was absurd for Nicholson to have been appointed rapporteur in the first place -- she apparently volunteered her services -- given that she is a founding member of the EU Parliament's Friends of India Group. Additionally, her South East England constituency has a large population of Indian origin -- almost 3 per cent in contrast to a less than one percent body of Pakistani-origin constituents. So the India connection is strongly ingrained in Baroness Nicholson.
It is not that there is something inherently devious about Nicholson, but in the context of South Asia and Kashmir she is simply following British imperial tradition -- a tradition that renders her highly biased and unsuited as a credible rapporteur on Kashmir. Therefore, her appointment and the strange manner in which the Report was written begs the question as to what is the EU agenda on Pakistan and Kashmir?
Meanwhile, linked to all these goings-on, there seems to be a needless confusion arising in Pakistan over the Siachin issue. India has now rejected the format of the 1989 blueprint for an agreement and instead is demanding that Pakistan authenticate the positions from which Indian troops withdraw. This cannot be acceptable to Pakistan since it would effectively legitimize Indian occupation of the Glacier. In our present mode of reaching out to India as much as we can, there is some talk of a "compromise" whereby while we would not formally authenticate the positions of Indian withdrawal in an agreement, we would add an annexure where we would give a schedule of disengagement, which means stating each position from where withdrawal takes place. Now, legally, under international law and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969), any exchange of documents and correspondence is to be regarded as a treaty obligation. While Pakistan and India are not Parties to this Treaty, the Treaty is regarded as a declaration of customary international law. So unless a detailed textual provision is added, narrating our position clearly, the envisaged annexure will be as good as authenticating withdrawal positions. Therefore, we should stick firmly to our 1989 position on Siachin and not be in an unseemly hurry -- given India's increasing hard line approach on conflict resolution. We need to be wary of the diplomatic games India is playing in a most offensive manner and not become victims of a needless weariness.
(The writer is director general of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Courtesy The News)


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