On Friday, Kashmir was back in the UN Security Council after 1971, courtesy China, which was urged to take the sensitive matter to the UN forum by Pakistan after New Delhi altered Jammu and Kashmir's constitutional position, scrapped its special status, and imposed a curfew and news and communications blackout in the Valley.
No matter which way one cuts it, the revival of the issue at the UN after nearly half a century is, quite literally, the internationalisation of the Kashmir question, which India has fought hard to prevent since the Shimla accord of 1972.
This agreement, the core of which was also recalled in the Lahore Declaration of 1999, is clear that all questions between India and Pakistan will only be addressed “bilaterally” — and without the use or the threat of use of force.
The latter aspect has been a dead letter, given the fraught state of India-Pakistan relations over the years, but the bilateralism principle has held in spite of Islamabad’s repeated attempts to bypass it.
Once again, after the hour and a half long informal confabulation on Kashmir in the UNSC, it was evident that the mood and the tone of the five permanent members — including Pakistan's special friend China — was to urge India and Pakistan to settle differences through bilateral dialogue. India should be happy with this.
In fact, this is the only thing that India can be happy about. It surely cannot be happy about the fact that the matter was discussed at the UNSC at all, even if informally. That fact marks a change in nearly half a century.
The fact that J&K is an “internal”, domestic, matter for India, which New Delhi has rightly sought to underline since it moved to change Kashmir’s constitutional status on August 5, clearly did not come in the way of the UNSC discussing Kashmir. That the forum could not issue a press statement at the end of its deliberations merely points to differences amongst the P-5, either of emphasis or substance or both.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephonic talk with US president Donald Trump just before the UNSC meeting. According to the statement the US State Department subsequently put out, Mr Trump urged that India and Pakistan should “reduce tension” in Kashmir through “bilateral dialogue”, which means tension in the Valley is now a part of the record. Not so long ago, India would have bristled if advised to reduce tension in Kashmir from any quarters.
Since the US needs Pakistan's help to “extricate” — Mr Trump’s word- itself from Afghanistan, it is not likely to outright reject Islamabad’s viewpoint on a sensitive matter like Kashmir. We should thus expect Kashmir to come up in some form in international discussions. In fact, India too contributed to internationalising Kashmir when it briefed the major countries on what it had done.