A “thank you” is over due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose erratic and highhanded approach has, yet once again, internationalised the Kashmir dispute. In complete solidarity with the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, April 06 was observed as ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’. Pakistan has always forcefully and effectively taken up the matter of Kashmiri struggle for realizing the right to self-determination, at the UN and all other relevant forums. The case of IoK is firmly rooted in legality circumscribed by the relevant UNSC Resolutions which remain unimplemented for the past seven decades. In the latest spate of state sponsored terrorism, Indian occupation forces have martyred more than twenty people during clashes and search operations in southern part of the occupied territory — Shopian, Islamabad and Kangan. These clashes were the worst since a 3-day skirmish in March, in the forests of northern Kashmir that had claimed 10 dead.
This year has seen an increased violence in the occupied territory with over fifty people already killed. And over 300 defenceless innocent Kashmiris, including women and children, injured by bullet and pellet guns; of these, 41 persons face vision loss leading to partial or complete blindness. Over 2000 ceasefire violations have taken place along Line of Control and Working Boundary during the past year. After the martyrdom of Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani, Indian security forces have conducted 1500 operations resulting in martyrdom of 534 innocent Kashmiris. In addition, 21,183 people were wounded, including 8424 who have lost their sight due to use of pallet guns. Indian occupation forces have also arrested 19,230 Kashmiris.
Iran, Turkey, Secretary Generals of OIC and the UN have issued statements on the current situation in IoK. UN Secretary General António Guterres stated that a thorough investigation needs to be conducted pertaining to the recent killing of Kashmiri youth by Indian troops. Responding to a question during the daily briefing, the UNSG’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said, “Civilians have to be protected wherever they are, whether it is in Gaza, whether it is in Jammu and Kashmir, whether it is in Yemen; it is a basic principle.” “He reminds that member states are responsible under international humanitarian law to protect civilians; the Secretary-General reiterates his call on member states to find ways to address disputes in a peaceful manner.” Dujarric added.
Earlier the UN had offered to send fact-finding mission to investigate the horrific incidents but as there was no pressure on New Delhi, thus it did not allow it to happen. Time has come that expeditious steps be taken by the UN. And the UNSG should appoint a special envoy on Kashmir. OIC Secretary General Dr Yousaf said, “OIC condemns Indian army’s brutality in IoK. India has martyred twenty Kashmiris.” “India should allow OIC to visit IoK, the international community will work towards solving the Kashmir crisis.” he added. He further stated that this problem should be solved according to the will of Kashmiris and United Nations’ resolutions. Head of Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of Nation), a women’s group fighting for freedom in IoK, Aasiya Andrabi also spoke out against the brutal killings. Amnesty international while declaring Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi an international terrorist said that the UN Agencies should be allowed to visit the Valley to investigate human rights violations and killing of innocent people there.
Extremism and bigotry in India threatens regional peace and should be a wakeup call for the international community. Rising intolerance in India, especially towards its minorities, particularly Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Dalits, is well documented. Incidents of cow vigilantes and lynching, often with government’s overt support, have consistently been criticized by credible organizations, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Not with standing, to speed up the state executed atrocities, reportedly, India is planning to deploy National Security Guards (NSG) for launching special operations in the IoK. This notorious entity is famous for conducting special operations in Indian Punjab, including brutal attacks on ‘Golden Temple’.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi called special meetings of the Federal Cabinet and the National Security Committee of the Cabinet to review the situation. The cabinet adopted a resolution “condemning the brutal and indiscriminate use of force by India, the illegal suspension of communication services in IoK, in an attempt to silence the Kashmiri voices, and the draconian laws to crush the struggle of the Kashmiri people”. The NSC “urged the international community to take cognizance of India’s systematic human rights violations”. Prime Minister’s earlier request to appoint a UN-mandated Special Envoy on Jammu & Kashmir has once again been reiterated. Time has come for the UNSG to appoint such an envoy.
Recently, Indian High Commissioner met with Pakistan’s National Security Adviser. Also, Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi had met with the Indian NSA. The radiated impression has it that both counties are well on their way to resume full scale dialogue. Pakistan has never refused to hold dialogue with India. However, India has a track record of disrupting the dialogue whenever parleys enter into a meaningful phase. Pakistan and India have hinted at lowering the current heightened tension with a step-by-step approach leading to resumption of comprehensive dialogue process including Jammu and Kashmir.
Suitable mechanism exists between the two countries to sort out issues but these are not being allowed to work. The situation on bilateral front cannot improve until and unless India agrees to hold meaningful and result-oriented dialogue on Kashmir dispute and resolve it as per aspirations of the Kashmiri people and resolutions of the United Nations. Pakistan is committed to resolving all outstanding issues through comprehensive dialogues. Dialogue, both bilateral and multilateral, is the only way forward to resolve our disputes, especially Jammu and Kashmir.
—The writer is a freelance columnist based in Islamabad.