Reviewing UNSC Resolution 47 on Kashmir

With the recent escalation of protests and mind-numbing state brutality in Kashmir, there is one document that often comes up in debates between Indians and Pakistanis: the United Nations Security Council Resolution 47, adopted on April 21, 1948. Pakistanis argue that the resolution calls for a plebiscite to resolve the Kashmir conflict, something India continues to reject. Indians argue that the resolution makes the plebiscite conditional upon withdrawal of tribesmen and militants from Kashmir. Both miss the larger point.

The resolution was passed under Chapter VI (non-binding) rather than Chapter VII (binding). It recommended that to ensure the impartiality of the plebiscite:

  1. Pakistan must withdraw all tribesmen and militants who entered Kashmir to fight
  2. India must withdraw troops other than those necessary to keep civil order

In the oft-ensuing debate, people forget that the resolution was not about India or Pakistan. The primary goal was to ensure an impartial plebiscite. It is strange that in the nationalistic war mongering that takes place across the Indo-Pak border, there is so little conversation around this spirit of the resolution that remains the unanimously agreed upon solution to the conflict. It is because this spirit rightly is about the people of Kashmir, and not India or Pakistan. Perhaps the debate should be focused on what conditions are reasonably required for this larger goal to be achieved.

Both sides emphasise on legacy conditions that may or may not actually be relevant to ensuring an impartial plebiscite. Has it not become clear in all these decades that militants are not going anywhere and neither are Indian troops? Indians must look themselves in the eyes and tell themselves that more Burhan Wani’s will not be born out of these pellet-blinded and coffin-carrying youth of Kashmir. Can you? Pakistanis must be look themselves in the eyes and tell themselves that more young Kashmiri will not die in this never-ending deadlock. Can you? There can’t be much pride in carrying coffins for decades. No cause is that noble. We must distance ourselves from violence on either side, refuse to hold the people of Kashmir hostage anymore, and focus on the real solution: ENSURE AN IMPARTIAL PLEBISCITE!

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