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Viscount Waverley: there is international concern regarding Kashmir and noble Lords will be aware of the historical background. Last month marked the 47th anniversary since partition and the onset of a bloody and bitter dispute over the altered status of the state.
I recently visited the region as a member of a parliamentary group and have since spoken to diplomats, parliamentarians, academics and representatives. My contribution today seeks to summarise the complexities and difficulties that make a solution elusive, rather than to judge the merits of any one position over another.
The United Kingdom maintains excellent relations with both India and Pakistan and both are members of the Commonwealth. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, which have left the state physically divided and heavily militarised. To illustrate the magnitude, there are approximately 600,000 opposing troops, including militants, in an area the size of England. By comparison, the British Army totals 120,000 regular troops.
A fundamental difficulty derives from the present relevance of UN Security Council resolutions tabled at the time of partition, which offer to Kashmiris the exercise of their right of self-determination by means of a plebiscite. There are three key questions: first, what is each party's position? Secondly, what has prevented early resolution? Thirdly, what mechanisms would break the deadlock and lead to a possible solution? The following brief synopsis might appear bland; but a balanced assessment of such an emotive topic would benefit little from prejudice and rhetoric.
India's perspective focuses on the bilateral nature of a dispute between India and Pakistan; she does not countenance foreign intervention, including that of the United Nations. The need for dialogue under Simla is recognised to resolve, for example, issues of control of the areas west of the ceasefire line. Her position is premised on legal, historical, political, strategic and secular arguments. Kashmir is de facto and de jure an integral part of India. She believes that to concede would signal the eventual break up of the union. India
A priority is to prepare for state elections before July 1995 and so comply with the constitution. India calls on friendly democracies like Britain for encouragement in her efforts to hold elections under difficult conditions. Candidates cannot canvass on a separatist platform; indeed, any candidate so doing will be disqualified.
To Pakistan, Kashmir is unfinished business: an international dispute to be settled according to the relevant UN resolutions, through a UN-supervised plebiscite to decide accession either to India or Pakistan, with an independent Kashmir as an unacceptable option. Pakistan admits that the Simla Agreement conforms with the UN charter and the spirit of the resolutions. She sees the UN's presence in Kashmir as a physical testimony to the basic legality of that position. She seeks international action on human rights violations.
To the Kashmiris, this is not simply a dispute between the two sovereign nations, but a conflict among three parties. They insist on their right of self-determination as described in a number of Security Council resolutions. The Simla Agreement is not recognised as they were not party to that accord. To many, independence must be seen as a viable option to be weighed alongside accession to either India or Pakistan.
Their views are represented by the all-party Hurriyet Conference, a joint forum of 34 political parties and other organisations. No consensus of objectives has yet emerged; those who favour independence have not been swayed by those who want to join Pakistan. In their view, the proposed election process in the state of Jammu and Kashmir will not be representative. The Hurriyet Conference therefore is determined not only to boycott, but indeed prevent the entire process.
The positions of the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union are broadly similar. It is widely held that the most practical method of resolving the dispute is through peaceful bilateral negotiations in the spirit of the Simla accord. The holding of a plebiscite to determine the future is not precluded providing all sides agree to that modality and are willing to employ pragmatism and realism rather than history and hindsight. All human rights abuses and any outside assistance, be it from governments or private organisations, to militant groups which commit acts of terrorism are strongly condemned. All combatants in the conflict are urged to cease hostilities and begin immediate negotiations in good faith aimed at resolving this dispute.
The United States perspective differs in the detail. It considers the entire pre-1947 princely state of Jammu and Kashmir to be disputed territory, and reiterates that the views of the Kashmiri people should be taken into account when deciding its future status. Further, it believes that the political processes in Kashmir must be transparent, thereby ensuring that local, state and national levels of government are accountable to the people.
What role is there for the world community? Certainly, the UN resolutions are still on the table, and as such should take a proactive role. The broader situation in the sub-continent must give rise to grave concern. Extremes of poverty, over-population and resource-depletion, appearing cheek by jowl with allegations of human rights abuses, terrorism and nuclear capability, expose dangerous fault lines for explosive potential regional conflicts. The futility of armed intervention must be exposed, with the usefulness of constructive dialogue emphasised and concretely supported. A mechanism must somehow be devised to facilitate that.
It may be that the UN resolutions relating to Kashmir and the Simla accord send conflicting messages. The world community recognises both instruments and, naively perhaps, expects a solution to be forthcoming. It may be helpful to recall the text from an important Security Council resolution, Resolution 122, on 24th January 1957, wherein the governments of India and Pakistan were both reminded of the,
It may be pertinent for noble Lords to ascertain HMG's view, as a member of the Security Council, of the status of the existing UN resolutions and their compatibility with the spirit of Simla and bilateralism and with any right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination.
In urging dialogue, I submit the following steps as possible confidence-building measures that might be broadly acceptable. First, Pakistan's position could be amended to allow for alternatives to the current bifold version of plebiscite; secondly, India's position could be amended to eliminate any claim to sovereignty over that part of Kashmir currently in Pakistan's control; thirdly, intra-Kashmiri dialogue could be encouraged, possibly in London, with representatives from both sides of the line of control; fourthly, Pakistan and India could negotiate a swift and complete withdrawal of armed forces from the Siachen Glacier; fifthly, during the period of dialogue and negotiations, a truce, strictly observed by the international community could be effected between the various Kashmiri militants and the Indian army; sixthly, cross-border support could be immediately halted, monitored by neutral observers; seventhly, the International Red Cross could be allowed entry into all areas of Kashmir; and eighthly, unofficial observers could be allowed to attend Jammu and Kashmir elections.
A solution is possible, with strong leadership, patience and a modicum of good will, combined with quiet diplomacy. The dividend is lasting peace and well-deserved prosperity for two vital bedrock members of the Commonwealth, the Non-aligned Movement and the United Nations.
Lord Selsdon: My Lords, it is 50 years on, and I suppose it is fair to say that the demolition of the British Empire is nigh on complete. In those 50 years the demolition of the British economy, the wiping out of the ruling classes, the middle classes and all classes is nigh on complete due to taxation and inflation. In that period of 50 years, there has been one thing for which we shall be eternally thankful--peace. In my view, that peace has been largely due to the development of the EC--the common market--and the beginnings of the reunification of Europe. That unification is well under way; and I dismiss it entirely as being of no interest, old hat and a matter entirely for the bureaucrats to advance.
What of ourselves? We are no longer hated. We are no longer feared. Those lovely little anecdotes, such as that the sun never set on the British Empire because the natives did not trust the British after dark, are long gone. But we have to think of 50 years hence. I take as my text the words of my noble friend Lady Chalker, who referred to,
But what is "an active foreign policy tailored to Britain's needs"? It is surely not consensus politics. It is surely not mandarinism. I recall reading, and I cannot remember where, that parliamentary mandarins are ineffably shocked by the impiety of an independent radical. I shall try to be slightly radical but slightly British--being British is not being radical. I have dismissed the common market because it is a market. It is next door and adventures are not necessarily into neighbouring countries. But it is also at once the haven of our culture and the haven of our commercial and industrial competitiveness.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, I turn towards the United States. If the demolition of the British Empire is nigh on complete, the peak of the United States is certainly past. What of America? Does it have a foreign policy? Does it need a foreign policy? Is it of any significance to us at all? I shall use the words of a fairly well-known American politician with whom I had the privilege of lunching many years ago, though I shall refrain from naming him. He asked me why, in order to
The noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond, and I share a love of the phrase "above our weight". He used the word "punch"; I prefer the word "box" because "box" implies more cunning. Again, perhaps I may offer the House an anecdote which I hear from time to time in the Middle East. To the question: "What is wrong with the Middle East?" comes the answer, "Four things really: hashish, baksheesh, malish and Briteesh, and Briteesh is the worst because they invented all the other three".
We were once cunning. We were devious. Our mandarins wore long sleeves from which the money came to corrupt and bribe. I think we need the term "mandarinism" again, but of a new sort. If we are unable to box above our weight, we must take on more weight quickly. In planning that, we need--as in all things--a tripod: three legs so that we cannot be knocked over. First, we must pretend to everybody that we have continental Europe in our hands and that we have more influence over it than does any other single nation. That could well be true. Secondly, we must pretend to others that we have more influence over the United States than does any other single nation. I believe that that is true; the countries to which I go surely believe it. Thirdly, we must not forget the British element: the Commonwealth, which has 40 seats in the United Nations. Through Her Majesty the Queen, effectively we are head of the Commonwealth.
Those three branches, or legs, provide us with the most powerful platform upon which to go forth and add weight. Commercially, we are probably in better shape than we have been for a while. But we could look at the past 50 years and ask ourselves what has happened and how we measure our economic decline--for such it has been. Fifty years ago the £1 stood at 17 Swiss francs; today it is worth 2 francs. That is a decline of 90 per cent. Then the pound was worth 4.2 US dollars; now it is worth 1.57 dollars. That is a decline of about 60 per cent. In the meantime, the currencies of Japan and Germany have strengthened. It seems that you must always lose a war and never win it.
We have world peace, apart from little incidents. We must look for new markets and new opportunities. Continental Europe is on our doorstep. I do not know what we shall call it--if we drop the "U" from EU it will simply become Europe again. We know about the United States and about Latin America, which is a growth area. We left behind the Caribbean; perhaps we can steal the Cuban market before the Americans get in there. But let us go forth into another area that I rather like. There is a patch where Europe ends and something else begins; it continues before you get to India and South East Asia. That is the country of the new "great
The development of those economies and working together with them will give us some great opportunities. They have a need for the things that we have which they do not make or produce themselves. They have things which we need, we ourselves not being able to have a totally independent economy. Those areas are fascinating and interesting. I have to declare an interest because I have been there looking at opportunities. In Baghdad, I have been pretty forthright with the Iraqis about what they should do next. I have talked with the Libyans. I have been in Iran dealing with other people and trying to persuade them to think differently. Little things come out now. No longer are people accused of being involved in the financing of terrorism in Northern Ireland. I did not realise that the Irish situation could apply or be of interest to people worldwide.
I believe that universally we are not hated or feared. We were very nearly on the point of being pitied but now we are respected as honourable men. Looking at the territories that are open to us and the need to develop our resources--as I think was said in Omar Khayyam: