Plebiscite Conundrum

  • 1947: When the Maharaja of the State of Jammu and Kashmir signed the Instrument of Accession (IOA) on 26 October, following invasion by the tribesmen from Pakistan, India accepted the accession, regarding it provisional until such time as the will of the people can be ascertained by a plebiscite, since Kashmir was recognized as a disputed territory. [A plebiscite is the direct vote of all members of an electorate on an important public question being referred to them, in this case accession of Kashmir to India or Pakistan.] It should be noted that the IOA itself does not specify any provisionality or conditionality of accession, while the White Paper specifies it clearly, thus creating a conflict between strict legal interpretation and repeated official promise made to the people of Kashmir.

  • 1949: On 5 January 1949, UNCIP (United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan) resolution stated that the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through a free and impartial plebiscite. As per the 1948 and 1949 UNCIP Resolutions, both countries accepted the principle, that Pakistan secures the withdrawal of Pakistani intruders followed by withdrawal of Pakistani and Indian forces, as a basis for the formulation of a Truce agreement whose details are to be arrived in future, followed by a plebiscite; However, both countries failed to arrive at a Truce agreement due to differences in interpretation of the procedure for and extent of demilitarisation one of them being whether the Azad Kashmiri army is to be disbanded during the truce stage or the plebiscite stage.

      1)Part 1: Ceasefire

      2)Part 2 : Truce Agreement followed by a Truce Stage

      3)Part 3: Plebiscite stage

    However, both countries failed to arrive at a Truce agreement due to differences in interpretation in Part 2, some being:

      1)Procedure for and extent of demilitarisation: whether actual withdrawal of Pakistan troops is to be done before or after the Truce Agreement

      2)whether the Azad Kashmiri army is to be disbanded during the truce stage or the plebiscite stage.

    Hence a plebiscite was never carried out;

  • 1953-1954: In 1953, the governments of India and Pakistan agreed to appoint a Plebiscite Administrator by the end of April 1954.

    Pakistan and US signed a Mutual Defence Assistance Agreement in May 1954; Nehru stated that he was concerned about the cold-war alignments and that such an alliance affects the Kashmir issue. India would resist plebiscite efforts from then on. India's Home Minister, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, during his visit to Srinagar, declared that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and there can be no question of a plebiscite. Kashmiri activists continue to insist on the promised self-determination.