Territorial disputes: Kashmir (Part 8) [Post 18]

Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh, North India. The lake is at an altitude of 4 595 m; it is the largest of the high altitude lakes in the Trans-Himalayan biogeographic region.

Kashmir, people and the egalitarian shared sovereignty
Kashmir, like any other TERRITORIAL DISPUTE has to do with an international territorial dispute or sovereignty difference that is heavily influenced by domestic realities. In addition to the domestic context, India and Pakistan (these posts did not include China in particular for the sake of simplicity only) have their own internal, regional and international agendas. 

Moreover, their state leaders have their own domestic agendas and in many cases, a when politicians aim to obtain a position of power (or simply to maintain their influence) they use TERRITORIAL DISPUTES such as Kashmir as a means to an end. For these and many other reasons, this kind of conflicts remain unresolved.

The past few posts are a modest attempt to conduct a theoretical experiment leaving aside elements that may cause bias when evaluating possible ways to solve the particular TERRITORIAL DISPUTE: Kashmir. It may be argued that such attempt is Utopia or so ideal that results futile. Yet, it is a valid attempt to look for, at least in theory, what politicians and scholars on both sides of the disputes seem to ignore: a solution.

To recapitulate, the egalitarian shared sovereignty (Núñez 2017) would involve recognizing the sovereignty over Kashmir of both India and Pakistan. In terms of population, the only ones affected would be the Kashmiris, who would be nationals of both States. Furthermore, their basic non-political liberties must be respected by both India and Pakistan. Hence, they would have rights in both States, as nationals. They would be equal before the law with any Pakistani or Indian citizen and no discrimination on any grounds would be permitted.

As a direct consequence, they would have the right to freely move and reside in any of the three territories—respecting local regulations. The status of Kashmiri national, its acquisition and retention would have to be agreed amongst the parties. Finally, there would be immigration controls to prevent people from moving to Kashmir in order to obtain rights in India or Pakistan that they could not obtain directly. The particulars in relation to law will be reviewed later in this series about TERRITORIAL DISPUTES when dealing with government.

This example shows that divisions of religion, language and ethnicity are not obstacles to shared sovereignty, provided that India, Kashmir and Pakistan respect the pre-requisites: a) non-interference or non-domination; b) non-political liberties; and c) principles of the law of peoples. Furthermore, shared sovereignty offers a viable way to do it when these three parties acknowledge their qualitative differences—e.g. larger population, stronger economy, only to name a few. Moreover, it secures a permanent feature because of the mutual controls and reciprocal concessions, both things that aim for equilibrium amongst all the parties.

NOTE: This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty: International Law and Politics,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020 (forthcoming)Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.

NEXT POST: Kashmir, issues at stake and domestic, regional and international contexts.

Wednesday 09th October 2019 

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @London1701

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