India shocked by Pentagon’s new map on Kashmir: It does not show the disputed state as India’s integral part

Despite being a nuclear power, Pakistan did not retaliate to India’s “surgical strikes” and “annexation” of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir State in its official maps. A general impression was that India’s acts of aggression enjoyed the US backing. . What lent credence to this “impression” was that Trump administration was brazenly supporting India as a proxy against China. Bonhomie on Kashmir was a quid pro quo to India for her strategic alliance with the USA against China.

As a US proxy, India endorsed US positions on Belt-Road Initiative, South China and East China Sea, Indo-Pacific Ocean, as well as, on trade and aid.

India propagated unfounded canards about China’s expansionism. One such canard, denounced by US secretary of state Pompeo, was that China used microwave oven weapons to push back Indians from hilltops at Pagang Tso. Another fake news was that China had created a village, close to Doklam, within Bhutan. This self-defeating news overlooks the fact that Indians are already are there in Bhutan ostensibly to train Bhutanese officials in space research and launching a space satellite next year.

US still considers Kashmir a disputed state

In September 2020, the Pentagon (US Department of Defense) shocked India by releasing a report titled “2020 China Military Power Report” to the US Congress. This report `showed the Indian map with Pakistan controlled Kashmir as being part of Pakistan while Aksai Chin was shown as a separate entity (Shocker for India, Pentagon cedes Kashmir to Pakistan. gifts Aksai Chin to China in New Map, Eurasian Times, November 2020).

Saudi Arabia also rebuffs India

On October 24, 2020, Saudi Arabia released a 20-riyal bank note to celebrate hosting of G-20 Summit. The note displayed a world map showing Kashmir as an independent country. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the USA altered their maps despite protests by India.

USA’s official position on Kashmir: Kashmir disputed, Plebiscite necessary

Obviously, the USA regards Kashmir as a disputed territory.  In the past also, India tried unsuccessfully to convince the USA that Kashmir was an integral part of India, but, in vain. At India’s behest, US Congressman Stephen Solarz elicited the statement from Bush-administration high-level diplomat, John H. Kelly, that plebiscite was no longer possible in Kashmir. But, the US Pointman on South Asia had to retract the forced confession. Here is an extract of Solarz’s grilling questions and the gullible answers thereto.

Mr. Solarz: What is the position of the United States with respect to whether there should be a plebiscite?

Mr. Kelly: First of all we believe that Kashmir is disputed territory…

Mr. Solarz: Well, how did we vote upon that resolution at the U.N. back in 1949?

Mr. Kelly: In favor, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Solarz:  Right. So at that time we favored a plebiscite. Do we still favor a plebiscite, or not? Or is it our position now that whether or not there should be a plebiscite is a matter, which should be determined bilaterally between India and Pakistan?

Mr. Kelly:  Basically, that’s right, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Solarz:  So we are no longer urging a plebiscite be held?

Mr. Kelly:  That’s right.

US retracts statement `Kelly misspoke’

To India’s chagrin, John R. Mallot, the US State Department’s point man for South Asia in 1993, corrected Kelly’s faux pas. He told the House Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Asia and the Pacific on April 28, 1993 that John Kelly ‘misspoke’ in 1990 when he said that the United States no longer believed a plebiscite was necessary in South Asia. Mallot clarified that Kelly made his comment after ‘continued grilling’ by the panel’s (pro-India) chairman, Stephen J. Solarz of New York.

Avid readers may refer to Solarz-Kelly conversation and corrective policy action taken by the US State Department in Robert G. Wiring’s book India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute, published by Macmillan Press Limited, London in 1994. They may also see Mushtaqur  Rehman’s Divided Kashmir: Old Problems, New Opportunities for India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri People (London, Lynne Reinner Publishers, London, 1996, pp. 162-163).

Conclusion

Kashmir is a simmering nuclear tinderbox. There is no UNO resolution incorporating India’s volte face that India-occupied Kashmir has acceded to India through the so-called state assembly’s resolution.  Till recently, the USA viewed Kashmir as a disputed state and offered mediation. Aside from Trump’s mumbo-jumbo, there does not appear to be an iota of change in US official policy on Kashmir.

Despite lapse of over 70 years, India has not fulfilled its promise of a plebiscite in Kashmir.  India’s attitude negates the cardinal principles in inter-state relations, that is, pacta sunt servanda `treaties are to be observed’ and are binding upon signatories.  The UN observers are still on duty on the line of actual control.  They submit annual report to the UN’s secretary general.  This report identifies Kashmir as an international problem.  Kashmir question is an unresolved question on UN agenda.

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