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SCO and Kashmir

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SCO and Kashmir
INDIA and Pakistan have been at dagger drawn since their inception in 1947 with core issue being accession of Kashmir state to either country. India’s claim on Kashmir has been illegal and against the accepted principles of partition. The main reason of partition of British India had been “two nation theory” which clearly defined that Muslims and Hindus are two different nations by any definition and thus be granted separate homelands. This theory was accepted by all the political entities at the time, some with a heavy heart though.Nonetheless, the boundary between India and Pakistan was drawn under the same theory. Muslim and Hindu majority areas under direct British rule were partitioned and around 560 princely states were asked to decide their fate keeping in view the two guiding principles: the religion of the majority people and “geographical compulsion”. Kashmir with overwhelming Muslim population (according to 1941 consensus, out of total population of 4,021,616 Muslims accounted for 3,100,000 and Hindus mere 809,000) and contiguous to Pakistan was to become part of Pakistan under the principles of partition and all norm. However, with the connivance of Lord Mountbatten, who was hurt by the decision of Quaid-e-Azam for not making him Governor General of Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Nehru, a Kashmiri origin and wanted to retain his birthplace, and Maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu facing mass revolt from his Muslim population, the state was acceded to India on the basis of an Instrument of Accession (IOA) signed on 26 Oct 1947. Whereas no satisfactory original copy of said IOA has ever been produced by Indians in any international forum and in the 1990s it was claimed to be lost by Indians authorities adding considerable controversy to the already scandalous document. Kashmir has been a bone of contention between the two countries and has caused three major wars since. The Muslim population in Kashmir had also been protesting against the illegal occupation of India. Kashmiri resistance is entirely indigenous in character and has an overwhelming mass support from all sections of society. Indians have failed to understand that popular resistance movement cannot be suppressed through the use of brute force; the lesson that USA has to learn the hard way in Vietnam and USSR in Afghanistan. With ever increasing brutality, human rights violations and war crimes committed by Indian Occupying Forces, the situation can get out of control and can result in an all-out war between the two nations that have become nuclear since 1998. An international organization like UN Security Council has failed to get its resolution implemented. And now with UN getting irrelevant and acting as a mere puppet for the USA and losing its relevance in the resolution of disputes that have the potential of disturbing international peace, is there any hope for Kashmir and its people. There is some light at the end of the tunnel. India and Pakistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as a full member on 9 Jun 2017. The organization was founded in 1996 as Shanghai Five comprising of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China. In 2001 with the addition of Uzbekistan it was renamed as SCO. The original objective of Shanghai Five’s was simple and straightforward: to resolve the disputed borders between newly independent Central Asia’s Republic (CAR) with one another and with China. The subject task was completed with exceptional diplomacy.Here is a silver lining in the dark clouds covering Kashmir dispute. The SCO platform can provide an opportunity for India and Pakistan to develop mutual understanding on the core issue of Kashmir. SCO having extensive experience in the resolution of boundary disputes among themselves can be taken as guidelines by Pakistan and India to study the framework and implement it in resolving Kashmir dispute.

Furthermore, SCO platform can be used to start the dialogue between the two rivals at multiple levels. Holding meetings on the sidelines of such events is a great way to start the dialogue on Kashmir that has been suspended by Indians since last two years.
SCO with its new members represents over 40 % of humanity and nearly 20 % of the world’s GDP and has the potential of becoming a major player in the world politics. However, if SCO wants to be an organization having an international footprint, and counter NATO as some suggest, bilateral disputes between India and Pakistan has to be resolved. With so much at stake, China and Russia having clout with Pakistan and India respectively must make a more diplomatic effort to alleviate and improve Pakistan-India relations and push them to come on negotiating table and resolve the Kashmir dispute peacefully. This seems to be a golden opportunity for Sub-Continent to see the progress that it deserved but could not achieve it due to bilateral disputes among two major powers. If SCO cannot resolve the Kashmir dispute then I am afraid this region will ever remain under war clouds.

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