Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi
ON 27 September, PM Imran Khan will address at the United Nations General Assembly. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has rightly urged the international community to play its due role in resolving the Kashmir issue and warned them that the dispute — which has now become a flashpoint between India and Pakistan — carries the potential of turning into a nuclear war and impacting the entire world. European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) has also demanded the Indian government to immediately lift the curfew it imposed in occupied Kashmir that has created a humanitarian crisis in the valley. Veritably, there is growing global recognition and awareness of the Kashmir issue.
Pakistan has been making a hectic Kashmir focused diplomatic effort. Before the UNSC meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan reached out to four out of five heads of P-5 states of the Security Council. On 16 August the Premier held a telephonic conversation with United States President Donald Trump over India’s illegal Kashmir move. Pakistan’s permanent envoy to the UN Dr Maleeha Lodhi has said the UNSC meeting is a testament that Kashmir conflict is not an internal matter of India but an international issue. Briefing the media along with the Chinese envoy to the UN after the UNSC’s closed-door meeting, on 17August, she said there was an effort to cancel this meeting and we are grateful to all member states for having it.
It also goes without saying that India is in hot waters due to Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts to highlight Kashmir issue at the international front. The international community is now taking notice of human rights violations in India-occupied Kashmir (IoK). China has also condemned Indian brutalities in the IoK. India has received a sharp nudge from Human Rights Council and the Higher Commissioner in her statement has expressed deep concern over the impact of recent actions from the government of India on the human rights of the people of Kashmir and asked India to lift curfew from the valley.
And also until recently, the EU High Representative conveyed these concerns to the Indian Minister for External Affairs [Subrahmanyam] Jaishankar, during their meeting in Brussels on 30 August. The Minister debriefed the High Representative on the state of play and on the security situation. Ms Mogherini reiterated the call to avoid an escalation of tensions and stressed the importance of steps to restore the rights and freedoms of the population in Kashmir. The EU has also raised the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, in an “item 2” statement on 10 September. The statement reads: ‘’we encourage the lifting of the remaining restrictions temporarily imposed and to maintain the rights and fundamental freedoms of the affected population’’.
Meanwhile , the letter drafted by the US lawmakers —Ilhan Omar, Raul Grijalva, Andy Levin, James McGovern, Ted Lieu and Alan Lowenthal— calls for the centrality of Kashmiri voices in determining the future of the Vale. Earlier, the United Kingdom government, on 6 August, said that it had been monitoring the situation in Kashmir closely, and called for calm as the country’s parliamentarians echoed some of the wider divisions over India’s decision to revoke Article 370 and bifurcate the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The visiting UK Members of Parliament in August, while expressing grave concern over gross violation of human rights in India-occupied Kashmir, recently called upon the UN Security Council to come up with strong condemnation of what was happening in the territory and solve Kashmir issue in accordance with resolutions of the United Nations.
The chair of Britain’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kashmir has written to the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to flag the human rights concerns and ask if the UK will be raising the issue at the next Security Council meeting. “The unilateral decision made by the Indian government to remove Article 370 betrays the trust of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, dating back to the accession of 1947, and threatens to escalate tension in the region even further. It also contravenes international law,” she said, calling on the senior Minister to urgently inform Britain’s MPs of the representations being made by the UK on the issue.
While the long and dismal record of Indian human rights abuses in Kashmir had been routinely ignored by the outside world, the narrative has changed now since media outlets across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America either report from the ground or pick up news as it appears in independent Indian outlets. They regularly shoot the images —of desolate streets ringed with gleaming new concertina barbed wire and bristling with checkpoints, children injured and blinded by Indian troops firing pellet guns and even using catapults— and doctors and patients trying to reach hospitals turned away by soldiers at checkpoints.
Once again, US President Donald Trump has reiterated that his mediation offer to intervene between the nuclear-armed neighbours still stands. “India and Pakistan are having a conflict over Kashmir as you know. I think it’s a little bit less heated right now than it was two weeks ago and I’m willing to help them,” Trump said in response to a question from a reporter. The United States offers of mediation have had global significance but Modi’s ultra-nationalist ideology views this offer as an anathema. What today the international community and the global powers need to understand is the reality that if we have to peacefully survive in the 21st Century, we need to redefine the old rules that need to be replaced with a new ethical moral and legal reawakening about the fundamental challenges that must be addressed through our united stand against the rule of tyranny, brinkmanship and oppression, the one being practiced by the Indian government in IoK. And in this backdrop, hopefully the Premier Khan’s ‘Mission Kashmir’ via UN’s platform will help provide a valuable strength to global reawakening of the Kashmir issue and the needed UN’s role in this regard.
—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.