Raza M Khan
TALKING to PM Nawaz Sharif, on Nov 30, Mr Trump is reported to have promised that he was ready and willing to play any role to address and â€˜find solution to the outstanding problemsâ€™. It is believed that he was referring mainly to contentious issues between India and Pakistan that includes the core issue of Kashmir. Notwithstanding his pre-election rhetoric about whose side is he on, most Pakistaniâ€™s welcomed this offer. Supposing that Mr Trump honours this commitment, it is imperative that he knows the realities on ground and the kind of â€˜negotiating skillsâ€™ that might work in the sub-continent. It will be equally important for Pakistan to do its homework before accepting the US as an umpire. Mr Trump will be surprised to learn that the Indian leaders reject mediation by the UN and find it abhorrent if anyone else ventures to do the same, though this policy is terribly flawed. To convince the Indians, the US may find it useful to refer to theâ€™ Book of Peaceâ€™, compiled by the American Peace Society in 1845. A Chapter in this ancient but outstanding Book, stipulates that â€˜arbitration is a recognized substitute for war, as it â€˜relinquishes no right, sacrifices no interest, contravenes no important principle, startles few, dictates sound policy, appeals to common sense, is simple, practicable, and likely to prove successfulâ€™. The Book compares nations to individuals in a society, who in most cases settle their difficulties, by some form of reference to a third party and recommends that countries must resolve their differences not by an appeal to arms, but through umpires chosen by them. The Book goes on to say that the parties will have to abide by the decision of their referees, and â€˜claim, if dissatisfied, only the privilege of renewing or changing the referenceâ€™. If India still objects to mediation, they may be offered facilitation, a term that is more acceptable to them. If that doesnâ€™t work either, it could be pointed out that If India decides to go to war to settle its differences with Pakistan, as desired by the RSS, that decision may not enjoy the support of the majority of the Indian population, which might cost Mr Modi, the next election. This is so because past wars have adversely affected the lives of most people, in the sub-continent. These effects included physical losses of friends or family, economic hardships, and psychological disorders etc. This argument is supported by the facts that many world leaders who prosecuted even victorious wars during their tenures in power, were defeated in elections that followed the war, i.e., Churchill after World 11, Margaret Thatcher after the Falklands war, decline of Indira Gandhiâ€™s party between 1971 and 1977 and George Bush the senior, after the first invasion of Iraq, though that was apparently a just war. According to the ethical or â€˜just warâ€™ principles, peace has to be a central motive for all wars and no war is legitimate unless it can ensure and maintain an order that is better than what it was. For instance, most historians agree that the first Gulf War of 1990-1991 was just, and as soon as Kuwait was liberated, the elder President Bush ended the war since he believed that occupying Iraq would not be â€˜moral, just and rightâ€™. The same cannot be said about the second invasion of Iraq. Neither can it be claimed that three wars fought by India against Pakistan could improve security environment for India or resolve the Kashmir dispute.While Pakistan has always welcomed third party mediation on contentious issues with India, it must know that any intercession on Kashmir or any other issue will have to be within the bounds of the existing UNSC or other international resolutions on the matter. For instance, any formula that disregards the wishes of the Kashmiri people, or the World Bank decisions on the distribution of water between India and Pakistan will not succeed. Pakistan needs to point out that wanton and wilful killing, torture, inhuman treatment that is being meted out to minorities in India, particularly in Kashmir are a grave violation of the four Geneva Treaties with their three Additional Protocols and the two Hague Conventions.
Such acts could legally be termed as war crimes. According to these treaties, a neutral country needs to be appointed to monitor implementation of these Conventions to reports breeches and to act as an advocate for prisoners, the missing persons, the wounded and civilians. Would the Trump Administration volunteer to perform this role as well? As the said international treaties and conventions, makes it obligatory for nations to search for violators, to bring them to trial, regardless of their nationality and irrespective of the place where the crimes took place, will Pakistan be helped to initiate a trial of selected Indian leaders involved in war crimes in Kashmir at the International Criminal Court?
These Treaties came into play during the invasions of Chechnya and Georgia and against the rulers of the former Yugoslavia and Iraq, and could be invoked for the use of excessive force and human rights violations in the Indian occupied Kashmir. Pakistan could also ask Mr Trump to remind those in India who believe in the principle of â€˜an eye for an eyeâ€™ about what Mr Gandhi had observed: â€˜An eye for an eye ends in making everyone blindâ€™. Finally, Pakistan could argue that certain limitations of arbitration notwithstanding, can the Indian leaders assure any one, including their own people, if the outcomes of wars could promise any better results for dispute resolution.