A myth constructed and repeated by India and few quarters in JK that Pakistan halted the implementation of the UN Resolutions by not withdrawing her troops from AJ&K. For example, the founder of JKLF Amanullah Khan writes in this connection:
“The UN Resolution of 13th August, 1948 asked Pakistan to remove all her troops and the tribesmen from the state first. Then India would start demilitarization and vacate a bulk of her forces. Pakistan signed that resolution but later on refused to withdraw her troops from AJK and GB by saying that India would capture these areas once Pakistan Army moves back from there. This issue of the demilitarization of Pakistani forces became the crux of the talks on the Kashmir Dispute and neither Pakistan agreed to remove her troops, nor India agreed to fulfill the other conditions for plebiscite without this demilitarization. Therefore, this resolution could not be implemented through which the people of Kashmir were to decide their future. In this way, one false statement by Pakistan deprived Kashmiris of their right to self-determination.” 
Similarly, Azam Inquilabi of Mahaaz-e-Azadi stated:
“The case went to the UNO where two resolutions were passed in 1948 and 1949 which voiced for the right of self-determination for Kashmiris and at the same time Pakistan was asked to leave the held territory of J&K. Neither Pakistan agreed nor was the right of self-determination given to Kashmiris. This factor formed the basis of the Kashmir conflict.” 
Before we discuss whether Pakistan refused to fulfill the pre-conditions for the plebiscite or whether this became the main reason for disagreement between the two countries, we should go through the UN Resolution of August 13, 1948, first. UN Resolution of 13th August, 1948 was a three-part resolution of which the first part asks both the countries for a ceasefire; part II deals with the truce agreement and part III tells both India and Pakistan to “re-affirm their agreement that the future of Kashmir would be determined in accordance with the will of the people.”
The part II of the resolution, which is related to the demilitarization, states that “the Government of Pakistan will use its best endeavor to secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting.” Whereas, for the Government of India it says, “When the Commission shall have notified the Government of India that the tribesmen and Pakistani nationals have withdrawn, thereby terminating the situation which was represented by the Government of India to the Security Council as having occasioned the presence of Indian forces in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and further, that the Pakistani forces are being withdrawn from the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Government of India agrees to begin to withdraw the bulk of its forces from that State in stages to be agreed upon with the Commission.”
Hence, it can be seen that only the tribesmen and other irregular Pakistani nationals who came here for the purpose of fighting were asked to withdraw first. Pakistani forces and the bulk of the Indian army were to withdraw simultaneously. In this connection, A.G. Noorani writes:
“In the process, myths were spawned which hold the people to thrall to this day, such as Pakistan had to ‘vacate’ its first aggression and to withdraw all its troops. This was a belated excuse. The UNCIP’s resolution of 13th August, 1948 in plain words [stated that] for the tribesmen the UNCIP had to notify India that they ‘have withdrawn’. In total contrast, for Pakistan’s forces, it had to notify that they were ‘being withdrawn’, whereupon India would begin its own withdrawals. There had to be a synchronization between the two processes. India’s withdrawal was not contingent on Pakistan’s prior total withdrawal.” 
After the acceptance of the Security Council resolution of August 1948 and January 1949, Pakistan had started withdrawing the tribesmen and Pakistani nationals from the state. When the commission resumed negotiations in February 1949, Zafarullah Khan stated in the first meeting “that considerable progress had already been made in the withdrawal of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals and by the middle of February, the obligations of the Pakistan government would have been fulfilled.”  But then, in the words of H.P. Grant Fraser, “the Secretary-General of the Indian External Ministry, Girja Bajpai dropped his bomb. He demanded the disbanding and disarming on a large scale of the Azad Forces as an essential condition to be fulfilled before any plebiscite could be held.”  Hence, it is clear that Pakistan was withdrawing the tribesmen and Pakistani nationals to fulfill her obligations for the plebiscite. They had, in fact, completely left the state in 1949.  Now, let’s see how India thwarted the efforts by the UN to settle the issue.
On 28th April, UNCIP came up with new “Truce Terms” which neither country accepted. India objected to the “conspicuous absence of any reference to the disbanding and disarming of the Azad Kashmir” while Pakistan was opposed “to the stationing of Indian troops in the Northern Areas and reiterated its demand that no Indian or Kashmir Government official be permitted to enter this region.”  After the outright rejection of the Commission’s proposals of 28th April by both the countries, the Commission proposed on 30 August, 1949, that all points of difference be submitted to arbitration. This offer of arbitration was accepted by Pakistan but rejected by India. 
At this time, the Commission returned the entire question to the Security Council which appointed its president General McNaughton as an informal mediator. General McNaughton, after negotiating with both the countries, had suggested a simultaneous withdrawal for the armies and that the Commission be replaced by a single UN Mediator. He proposed “the reduction, by disbanding and disarming, of local forces, including on the one side the armed forces and militia of the State of Kashmir and on the other, the Azad forces” and “the inclusion of the Northern Area in the programme of demilitarization and its continued administration, subject to United Nations supervision and by the existing local authorities.” Once again, Pakistan had accepted the proposals whereas, “India rejected them by suggesting two far-reaching amendments, namely that only the Azad Kashmir forces should be disbanded, and that the responsibility for the defense and administration of the Northern Areas should rest with India and the Indian Kashmir Government respectively, instead of the “existing local authorities.” 
At this juncture, the London Economist remarked, “the whole world can see that India, which claims the support of this majority [of the Kashmir people] has been obstructing the holding of an internationally supervised plebiscite. From this, the world opinion can only conclude that India really has no confidence that the vote would go in its favour”. 
However, another resolution was carried on 14 March, 1950 which called upon “India and Pakistan to prepare and execute within five months from the date of this resolution a program of demilitarization on the basis of the principles of General McNaughton’s proposal.” The resolution was accepted by both countries and on 12th April, 1950, an Australian jurist, Sir Owen Dixon was appointed as U.N. Mediator. Sir Owen Dixon was now entrusted with the task of demilitarization according to the UNCIP resolution of 14th March, 1950.
Owen Dixon’s Mediation
Sir Owen Dixon arrived in South Asia on 27th May. He visited the capitals of both countries. Since, India had refused to accept McGnauton’s proposals for demilitarization despite having accepted the resolution of 14th March, 1950, and had insisted that Pakistan be declared as an aggressor, Sir Dixon came up with a new proposal for demilitarization. So, in order to make any progress possible, he suggested “the withdrawal of Pakistani troops first; [then] the withdrawal of Indian troops; and disbandment of Azad Kashmir and Kashmir State Forces.”  This was, in fact, repugnant to the resolutions of 13th August, 5th January, and 14th March which called upon both the countries to withdraw their armies simultaneously. Even then the Pakistani government accepted the proposal and had shown willingness to remove her troops first in order to secure the plebiscite. To quote Joseph Korbel, “the Prime Minister of Pakistan agreed to take the first step to withdraw the Pakistan army. But Sir Owen’s gratification was short-lived. The plan for demilitarization was rejected by India.” 
For Azad Kashmir, Dixon had suggested: “the posting of a U.N. officer to each District Magistrate with powers of supervision the administration of the State” . For the Northern Areas, his suggestion was “to appoint Political Agents representing the United Nations and to vest authority in them.” The Indian government rejected these proposals and demanded that “in any event, India must station garrisons in Northern Areas for its defence.” 
Then, Owen Dixon came up with a new proposal. He suggested that “for the period of the plebiscite a single government for the whole state, or a coalition government composed of the two hitherto hostile parties, or a neutral administration by trusted persons outside politics, or an executive constituted of United Nations representatives be organized.” Once again, in the words of Joseph Korbel, “the Indian reply was in negative.” 
Then Sir Owen Dixon came up with an entirely different solution for the dispute. He suggested holding a “plebiscite region by region, and allocating each to either India or Pakistan according to the result of voting; or allotting to either of the two countries areas which unquestionably would vote for Pakistan or for India, limiting the plebiscite to the Valley of Kashmir.”  Here, however, he faced opposition from Pakistan whereas India was willing to consider such a plebiscite. But the suggestions by India as to which territories should be allotted to Pakistan or India stated Sir Owen, “appeared to me to go much beyond what according to my conception of the situation was reasonable.”  In the words of Joseph Korbel, “Pakistan refused to budge from her position, though she indicated her willingness to straight partition if the Valley were allocated to her. This was unacceptable to India.” Korbel further narrates, “as a last resort, Sir Owen Dixon presented both governments with another proposal. In broad lines, he called for a partition of the country and a plebiscite for the Valley, itself completely demilitarized, conducted by an administrative body of United Nations officers.” Pakistan reluctantly accepted this proposal but “the Prime Minister of India answered by telegram expressing an emphatic refusal to agree to any such provision.” 
After all his efforts had come to naught, Sir Owen Dixon went back and wrote:
“In the end, I became convinced that India’s agreement would never be obtained to demilitarization in any such form, or to provisions governing the period of the plebiscite of any such character, as would in my opinion permit the plebiscite being conducted in conditions sufficiently guarding against intimidation, and other forms of influence and abuse by which the freedom and fairness of the plebiscite might be imperiled.” 
After all these failures, the matter was discussed in the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers held in January, 1951 where Australian PM suggested three alternative plans for this purpose: to station Commonwealth troops in Kashmir; to have a joint Indo-Pakistan force there; or to entitle the plebiscite administrator to raise local troops. Once more, in the words of Joseph Korbel, “Pakistan accepted any of the three propositions. India refused them all.” 
Another resolution was submitted on 21st February, 1951, this time as a result of the joint efforts of American and British governments. This resolution “called upon the parties to accept, in case of failure, arbitration by an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators appointed by the President of the International Court of Justice after consultation with the parties.” But again “Pakistan accepted the resolution. India rejected it.” 
As a result, Dr. Frank P. Graham was now appointed the United Nations Representative. Joseph Korbel writes that Graham, after studying the situation, “first proposed, as a basis for discussion, that 12,000 to 18,000 soldiers be retained on the Indian side, plus the local state militia of 6,000 men; and 1,000 to 6,000 Azad soldiers on the Pakistani side, plus 3,500 scouts in the northern area. Then, he modified this proposal, suggesting 18,000 and 6,000 men respectively.” But once more, “Neither of his proposals was acceptable to India. She insisted that 21,000 soldiers was an absolute minimum and refused to include in this figure the state militia. In addition, she insisted on the complete demilitarization of the Azad Kashmir and the substitution of the present armed forces thereby a civil force of 4,000 men (one-half armed and one-half unarmed), this force to be composed of 2,000 followers of the Azad government and 2,000 men normally resident in the Azad territory who were not followers of the Azad government.” This, according to Korbel, “was, of course, an entirely new element” which was never concerned before. He further writes: “It would have meant in essence that the proposed plebiscite would be carried out in Sheikh Abdullah’s territory in the presence of 27,000 soldiers friendly to India and Abdullah; and on Azad territory, in the presence of 4,000 men of a civil force, only partially armed, and one half of whom would be recruited presumably from refugees living under Sheikh Abdullah’s administration. Pakistan considered the number of soldiers left in Kashmir still too high but indicated she was ready to accept Dr. Graham’s proposal. When the Security Council, on December 23, 1952, passed a resolution “urging the governments of India and Pakistan to agree within thirty days on the demilitarization of Kashmir on the basis of Dr. Graham’s proposal”, India once more refused and once more Pakistan accepted the resolution.” 
Having all sorts of mediation failed, both the countries were advised to solve these disputes through bilateral negotiations. In this connection, Indian and Pakistani prime Ministers met in August, 1953 to discuss this issue and April 1954 was the date set for the plebiscite administrator to take his charge. A total of 27 letters were exchanged between Jawahar Lal Nehru and Muhammad Ali Bogra between August 1953 and September 1954. First, Nehru asked Muhammad Ali for the replacement of plebiscite administrator Admiral C.W. Nimitz. But when the Pakistani prime minister agreed to this demand in his letter to Nehru on 4th February, 1954 , Nehru started questioning the aid received by Pakistan from USA and then categorically refused to hold any plebiscite in May, 1954. Pakistan raised the issue again in the Security Council in 1957 but this time the Soviet Union vetoed a resolution tabled by Ireland and buried the Kashmir issue forever.
Hence, it can be seen that Pakistan tried everything and accepted all the proposals to secure a plebiscite, it was India who backed out of her commitments. Actually India did not want a plebiscite at all. A.G. Noorani writes;
“Nehru had other plans, in private he had adamantly set his face against a plebiscite in 1947. In public, till 1954 he continued to make the most explicit – almost extravagant – and solemn pledge to hold a plebiscite. It was in 1996 the clue to Nehru’s entire Kashmir policy emerged with the publication of 22 Volume of the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru. It contained a document as definitive as the famous US document NSC-68, which defined US policy in the cold war. Nehru wrote a secret document to Sheikh Abdullah dated 22 August, 1952. Its thesis was; (1) people did not matter; (2) the UN was powerless; (3) so was Pakistan; (4) the accession must be made final; (5) Kashmir leaders should banish doubt for ‘doubts in their minds for leaders percolate to their followers and to the people generally۔’ There must be no debate in future; accession is an accomplished and final fact, and nothing is going to unsettle it.” 
Similarly, former Indian minister of defense, Krishna Menon had said that India refused to agree to a plebiscite “because we would lose it. Kashmir would vote to Pakistan and no Indian government responsible for agreeing to the plebiscite could survive. There may be neither the justification for India’s position in Kashmir. But the question was not, what was right but what was opportune.” 
Later in 1964, V.P. Menon in an interview with HV Hodson confessed, “As for plebiscite, we were absolutely, absolutely dishonest.” 
Therefore, holding Pakistan responsible for forestalling the plebiscite, or asking Pakistan Army to vacate first or equalizing Pakistan and India is a gross example of intellectual dishonesty and distortion of facts as Pakistan was and is always ready to fulfill her obligations to give the people of J&K their right of self-determination. It is India, on the other hand, who considers Kashmir as her integral part and denies their right to self-determination. So, anyone who wants this to happen and wants demilitarization of the state should ask only India for it. If India comes on the tables and shows readiness for the withdrawal of her troops, only then should Pakistan be asked to withdraw or vacate her part that too not prior to the Indian withdrawal.
- Amanullah Khan, Pakistan ki Hamaqatu Bhari Kashmir Policy (Urdu), p. 9
- Azam Inquilabi, interview ‘Banking on Pakistan not sound’ The Milli Gazette
- A.G. Noorani, The Kashmir Dispute 1947-2012, Volume. 1, pp. 34-35
- H.P. Grant Fraser, The History of the Kashmir Dispute: An Aspect of India Pakistan Relations, University of British Columbia, (1963) p. 61.
- Joseph Korbel, Danger in Kashmir, p. 199
- Michael Brecher, The Struggle for Kashmir, p. 101.
- op. cit. 105-106
- Korbel, op. cit. 169-170
- H.P. Grant Fraser, op. cit. 76
- Korbel, op. cit. 171-172
- Brecher, op. cit. 109
- Korbel, op. cit. 172
- ibid. 173
- ibid. 177
- ibid. 178
- ibid. 186-187
- Lord Birdwood, Two Nations and Kashmir, p. 142
- A.G. Noorani, op. cit. 33
- H.P. Grant Fraser, op. cit. 210-211
- A.G. Noorani, op. cit. 23
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the editor of the Kashmir Discourse.
Author hails from AJK, Pakistan and is a medical student at Rawalpindi Medical University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.