Kashmir Issue In The United Nations 1948-58


When Indian military operations on Kashmir in 1948 became a costly and complicated affair, they took this issue to the United Nations. Under Article 35 of the Charter VI, which relates to Pacific settlement of Disputes. India complained that Pakistan was responsible for the disturbances. Pakistan on the other hand questioned the validity of the accession of the state to India, and so challenged the very basis of India claim to forcibly occupy and hold the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan made it clear that the only practical solution of the problem is a fair and impartial plebiscite under the United Nations. However Pakistan demanded the withdrawal of the Indian Army from the State, and the establishment of a neutral administration. If these conditions were created, Pakistan under took to use its moral influence over the tribesmen to with draw from the state.

For the solution of this issue Security Council appointed a United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (U.N.C.I.P). The commission presented two resolutions before the Security Council, which were passed on August 13, 1948 and January 1, 1949. The two resolutions constitute the International agreement that binds India Pakistan and the United Nations on the question of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan agreed on the resolutions at that time. These resolutions provided that:

  • Cease-fire: the issue of cease-fire order and the demarcation of cease fire line.
  • Truce agreement: The demilitarization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Plebiscite: A free and impartial plebiscite will be conducted by the United Nations to determine the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or to Pakistan.

Due to this agreement, fighting in the State stopped in early January 1949. Thus the first part of the agreement was implemented. There was some advance towards the implementation of the second part, when Pakistan without waiting for a Truce Agreement secured withdrawal of tribesmen. Any further progress was however, blocked when India refused to synchronize the withdrawal of both Indian and Pakistani armies. Since then numerous attempts on the part of the Security Council and its various representative have failed to secure an agreement on the issue of demilitarization.

In March 1949, UNCIP conveyed a meeting of the representatives of the two parties at which, they were invited to present for discussion their proposals for the implementation of the second part of the earlier resolutions. Pakistan compiled and suggested a framework with in which the High Command of the two armies could work out together the plan for the withdrawal program. However India did not submit any plan for joint discussion and agreement.

UNCIP proposed on August 26, 1949 that the two governments to submit to arbitration the difference existing between them concerning all questions regarding the implementation of part two of the resolution of August 13, 1948. The arbitrator was to decide these questions according to equity, his decision to be binding on both parties. This proposal was endorsed in a public appeal addressed to the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan by Mr. Truman, President of the United States, and Mr. Attlee, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Pakistan agreed to this course of action, but India rejected it.

Mac-Naughton of Canada, who was the president of the Security Council himself tried to examine with the representatives of the two governments, the possibilities of finding a mutually satisfactory basis for dealing with the Kashmir problem. Mac-Naughton formulated proposals for demilitarization designed to make possible, the realization of condition for holding a plebiscite in the state. Pakistan accepted these proposals while India formulated its objections to them.

Next step taken by the United Nation was the appointment of Sir Owen Dixon as United Nations representative to assist in the preparation and to supervise the implementation of the program of demilitarization. He was to make suggestions, which could contribute to the expeditions and enduring solution of the dispute. Dixon proposed that the first step in demilitarization should consist in the with-drawl of Pakistan regular forces, commencing on the named day and after a significant number of days from the named day. Then the other operation on each side of the cease fire line should take place and as far as practicable, concurrently. Pakistan accepted this proposal but India rejected it.

Dr. Frank Graham, who succeeded Sir Owen Dixon as the United Nations representative was a step ahead from Dixon proposals. He suggested on September 7, 1951, that first of all Pakistani troops will withdrawn, then Azad forces will be disarmed and disbanded and then the build of Indian army will with drawn and Maharaja forces will be disarmed and disbanded. The number of armed forces to remain at the end of the period of demilitarization should be decisively reduced to the smallest number possible for final disposal by the plebiscite administrator.

Pakistan not only accepted this program but even suggested that a provision should be made in the agreement that any differences regarding it interpretation should be referred to the United Nations Representative, whose decision should be final. India not only rejected the proposal of Pakistan but also opposed Graham mission proposals. The dead lock brought the matter again to the Security Council in late 1952. The Security Council in its Resolution of December 23, 1952 endorsed Dr.Graham proposals. The Resolution was not acceptable to India, while Pakistan declared itself prepared to go forward on its basis.

In March 1957, the issue was once again discussed in the Security Council after the gape of five years, due to the efforts of the foreign minister of Pakistan. Gunnar Jarring, then president of the Security Council, was requested by the Council, to examine with the two governments any proposals which in his opinion were likely to contribute towards the settlement of the dispute, having regards to the previous resolutions of the Security Council and of the UNCIP.

In pursuance of this Resolution, Jarring proceeded to the subcontinent and arrived in Karachi on March 14, 1957. He visited India and Pakistan between March 14, 1957 and April 11, 1957 and had a number of discussions with the two governments. On April 29, he submitted his report. He failed to report to the Security Council any concrete proposal. He made a number of suggestions which for different reasons, however, did not prove to be mutually acceptable. He reported that both the governments declared that they were bound only by two UNCIP resolutions holding of free and impartial plebiscite to decide the question of accession of the State to India or Pakistan under the United Nations auspices. However, like previous attempts, Dr. Jarring also failed to solve the problem due to the uncooperative attitude of India.

On the failure of the mission of Ambassador Gunnar Jarring, the Security Council, by its resolution of December 2, 1957 again requested the United Nation Representative, Dr. Frank Graham to make any recommendation to the parties for further appropriate action. Dr. Frank Graham once again came with his five proposals. The proposals were:

  • A declaration of peace by the two parties
  • A re-affirmation of the respect for the integrity of the cease-fire line
  • The installment of United Nations forces after the with drawl of Pakistani forces
  • Agreement on the interpretation of concrete provisions for a plebiscite.
  • A Prime Minister conference between India and Pakistan under the auspices of the United Nation representatives.

Like all the above mentioned resolutions and proposals, this proposal was also agreed by the Pakistan Government while India rejected it. Thus nothing positive came out of these proposals.