Criminal silence over Kashmir

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Malik Ashraf

NOTWITHSTANDING the fact that the UN through its several resolutions on Kashmir, promised the holding of a plebiscite to decide the accession of the state and commitments given by the international community and the Indian leaders to honour those resolutions, the Kashmiris even after the lapse of 70 years are still waiting for those promises to be fulfilled and bearing the brunt of the Indian brutalities. Regrettably in spite of the documentation of those atrocities and blatant violation of human rights by the Indian security forces not only by the human rights organisations within India but also the international bodies like Amnesty International, the UN and the world community are maintaining a criminal silence over what is happening in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Encouraged by this indifference and expediency-driven considerations by powers like the US and its allies, India has let loose a reign of terror in Kashmir. Since the beginning of the new phase of resistance against the Indian occupying forces in the Indian occupied Kashmir in the wake of the killing of Burhan Wani on 8th July 2016, nearly two hundred people have been killed, 8424 injured by pellet guns resulting in loss of eye sight by 3055 protestors besides rape of 765 women and destruction of 65861 homes and structures. But what happened in Shopian and Anantnag districts in IoK during cordon and search operations on last Sunday, represented ultimate barbarity by the Indian security forces. Reportedly 20 people were killed in one day in the state terrorism perpetrated on un-armed people of Kashmir whose only crime was that they were demanding their right of self-determination.
The incident rightly invoked very severe reaction in Pakistan and the government of Pakistan also officially observed April 6 as the Day of Solidarity with the people of Kashmir besides taking an initiative to sensitize the world community of the unrelenting Indian oppression in the valley and the commitment to raise the bar in regards to moral, political and diplomatic support to their right of self-determination. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who finally condescended to speak on the subject instead of condemning the brutality of the Indian security forces only restricted himself to saying that the UN was following the situation very closely and the UN could only get involved in such issues when both countries agreed to it whereas in this case Pakistan sought UN mediation and India was opposed to it. That lukewarm response by the UN Secretary General is indeed very disappointing in view of the fact that as per its resolutions the UN was under obligation to resolve the issue through its good offices and also take due notice of the human rights violation in the IoK.
The UN has on a number of occasions intervened in human rights issues in the past and there are few places where human rights are being violated as badly as in Kashmir. Indian insistence on non-involvement of UN is based on Simla Agreement between the two countries which emphasized the resolution of disputes between the two countries including Kashmir through bilateral channels. The response of the UN Secretary General in a way toes the Indian line notwithstanding the fact that the UN resolutions on the same subject take precedence over the bilateral agreements. Article 103 of the UN Charter says “ In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the members of the UN under the present charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present charter will prevail” What it means is that the UN resolutions on Kashmir will take precedence over all other international agreements on the same issue. So Pakistan is very much within its right to invoke UN resolutions, after having been frustrated to find solution through the bilateral arrangement.
In fact the refusal by the UN to get involved in Kashmir has much to do with the structural inadequacies of the world body, which is dominated by the powerful countries like US equipped with the veto power. The US and its allies surely have their eyes on the lucrative Indian market and they perceive it as a pivotal cog in the scheme of things to achieve their strategic objectives in this region as well as globally. The dilemma is that even if any move is initiated on the issue in the UN it is surely likely to be vetoed by the US like it has been doing in the case of Israel. Emboldened by this unqualified support from the US and its allies India has not only shut Kashmir to the foreign media but it has also shown disdain for the role of UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan to monitor the situation. It does not even allow their entry into the valley. The UN has been able to resolve only those issues where the big powers had their interest like East Timor and South Sudan. No issue has better demonstrated the impotence of UN as the situation in Kashmir. The current global environment and politics might be a hindering factor in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute but that should not deter or discourage the people of Kashmir and Pakistan to continue their efforts and struggle. History is witness to the fact that movements for independence and the right of self-determination could not be suppressed with military might. The perseverance and determination of the people of Kashmir would ultimately bless their efforts with success. For Pakistan the best available option under the circumstances would be to keep agitating the cause of the people of Kashmir at the global level to stir the conscience of the world. The movements for freedom do have their own dynamics but what is important is the commitment and determination to achieve the objective.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.

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