WHERE DOES 3RD OPTION EXIST IN JAMMU & KASHMIR?

WHERE DOES 3RD OPTION EXIST IN JAMMU & KASHMIR?

Lubna Haroon

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An ‘independent state’ is a rising phenomenon in either side of Jammu and Kashmir which gradually evolved as a result of the impasse on the Kashmir dispute, generally known as ‘Third Option’. Several politicians are the advocates of ‘third option’ popular names among those are Maqbool Butt, Amanullah Khan, Shabbir Ahmed Shah and Yasin Malik. Few others are associated with the right to self-determination who is close to the third option. Under this opinion, the pre-partition status of the Jammu and Kashmir state is to be restored and an independent state would be established.

The matter regarding Kashmir dispute was initiated in the United Nations (UN) by India itself and Pakistan responded resultantly. According to the resolution of August 13, 1948, in the UN, for the said dispute the United Nations, acknowledged the right to self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, this right was inherently available to these people against any colonial subjugation under pre-charter customary international law. Hence, neither India nor Pakistan or any other country can decide the future of Kashmiris instead of their own free wishes and will. This very principle has been emphasized time and again in the various post-charter human rights documents of the world. Most admired among those are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 (UDHR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966 (ICESCR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Right 1966 (ICCPR); collectively known as a bill of rights.

Article 1 of both the covenants, ICESCR and ICCPR, stresses upon the availability of the right to self-determination to all the human beings indiscriminately and throughout the world. And fortunately, both India and Pakistan along with the then colonial head of both these states i.e. Great Britain (United Kingdom) are the signatories of these documents. Furthermore, unavailability of right to self-determination within a state or colonial occupation may lead to a liberation movement by the subjugated or suppressed people of the similar area. These kinds of liberation movements ultimately result as independent new states of the world under the supervision of the UN through the vested power by chapter 7 of its charter.

In case of Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan both have proceeded with amicable resolution under chapter 6 of UN charter which more or less is demanding a bilateral arrangement between the two states under the auspicious UN for the people of the disputed land. But above discussion draws a loud and clear conclusion that the right to self-determination is an inherent and inalienable right available to the people of Jammu and Kashmir which cannot be snatched by anybody’s influence. Whereas, UN Commission on India and Pakistan deleted the option of the independent status of Kashmir on January 5, 1949, against the request made by Pakistan, which evidently laid down that ‘the question of the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided to the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.’

The belongings to the two nations had tried to divert the right to self-determination of the people of disputed land into two options as advocated on the forum of United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan. However, recent developments and efforts from four decades by the people of J&K are based upon freedom struggle. The total tenure of the approximately seventy years for the freedom struggle reflected in the accessibility and the availability of the third option along with the two other as accession with India or Pakistan. This idea is not new in fact, because the establishment of a revolutionary government on October 24, 1947, exhibits a similar voice from the persons those than fighting against the Dogras ruler.

As the name of government established then and continued till the time under Pakistani administrated area is Azad (independent) government of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, the people, especially under Indian administered area up-to-now, are demanding Azadi (freedom or independence). The two words Azad from 1947 and Azadi till the time both have the same meanings as independence which is the 3rd option.

Therefore, the option of an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir had always been a continuous issue amongst the Kashmiris themselves and in India and Pakistan. Under the AJK interim constitution and article 370 of Indian constitution, even those who believe in the idea of an independent Kashmir were barred from taking part in their respective assemblies’ elections. However, the ‘third option’ is a neutral insight where the reunification and independence of state can be brought about without making any drastic changes in the existing socio-economic, political and administrative structures of any of present three units i.e. Indian and Pakistani administrated areas of J&K.

The leadership on the Pakistani side focuses the need to address the dispute in light of Security Council Resolutions for a peaceful settlement. In the absolute presence of ‘nationalist school of thought’ across Line of Control (LOC) as well as in Kashmiri Diaspora, how ongoing conflict can be peacefully transformed without the existence of their aspirations? Therefore, the restoration of ‘third option’ undoubtedly more consequential for the free and impartial referendum and the involvement of the UN under chapter 7 instead of chapter 6 of the charter.

Lubna Haroon
The writer is a Research Scholar in Politics and International relations. She can be reached at lubna.khan342@gmail.com

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