UNGA, UN Human Rights Council and Kashmir | By Dr Syed Nazir Gilani


UNGA, UN Human Rights Council and Kashmir

THE world community is meeting at the two most important platforms in Geneva and New York.

UN Human Rights Council is conducting its regular 51st session from 12 September till 7 October 2022.

On 8 September United Nations General Assembly has approved the appointment of Under-Secretary-General Volker Türk, as the next United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

India and Pakistan are attending as members of the HRC. Nada Al- Nashif, UN Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave a Global Update on the human rights to the Council on 12 September, 2022.

World leaders are meeting in person at the 77th session of UN General Assembly for the first time on 20 September 2022.

Covid-19 pandemic led to most addresses being delivered by video. There is a concern in the media and in various circles that the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights did not make any reference to Human Rights situation in Kashmir in her update.

Rightly so.But the concern is ill placed. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has produced two exhaustive reports on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir in June 2018 and in July 2019.

The 49-page June 2018 report has made an important recommendation to the UN Human Rights Council, 17 recommendations to the Government of India and 7 recommendations to the Government of Pakistan.

Similarly the follow-up report by the OHCHR in July 2019 has made one recommendation to the Human Rights Council, 19 recommendations to the Government of India and 10 recommendations to the Government of Pakistan.

In the absence of an access on either side of Line of Control (aka Cease-fire Line) these two reports used the ‘remote monitoring’ provision as provided by UNGA resolution 48/141 for such situations.

The two reports are based on information available in public domain and on the official documents and statements, such as parliamentary questions, court orders, police reports and work of NGOs.

Therefore, Government of India could not challenge the merits of this evidence. The two reports have used a “reasonable grounds” standard of proof.

It was the duty of the Government of Azad Kashmir to follow up on these two very important reports and seek an action on these recommendations, made to Human Rights Council, Government of India and the Government of Pakistan.

Unfortunately these reports were not discussed in the AJK Assembly, AJK Cabinet, schools, colleges and universities of Azad Kashmiror in the Press of AJK and the very vocal press of Pakistan.

Government of Azad Kashmir has not been able to develop an independent and reliable institutional framework, as provided in the Karachi Agreement of April 1949, Act 1970 and the Act 1974.

It remains at a distance to its duties and obligations under the UN template on Kashmir as a de facto local authority.

Government of Azad Kashmir unjustifiably blames Government of Pakistan and its institutions for an overall control of advocacy on Kashmir.

Government of Pakistan and its intra-disciplinary control on Kashmir has its share of blame but it could not be blamed for a “full” neglect.

There is no bar on any Kashmiri Government, leader or a civil society institution to advance work on the UN template on Kashmir.

Government of Pakistan at one point appointed Sardar Muhammad Abdul Qayyum as Chairman of the National Kashmir Committee until his resignation in November 2002.

It is unfortunate that Governments in Azad Kashmir have never acted in the manner as required under the UN template as a de facto local authority and tried to nudge the Government at Srinagar designated as a de jure Government under the UN template and inquire from the Government of Pakistan on the progress made or work done on the share of duties accepted by the latter under the terms of Karachi Agreement of April 1949 and the UN template.

Even after the Indian action of 5 August 2019, Government of Azad Kashmir as a de facto local authority has not engaged with the people on the Indian side of cease-fire-line and has offered them no support so far.

The people and the leaders on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir have challenged the Indian action of 5 August in the Supreme Court of India.

There are around two dozen petitions. Even Retired Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, a Kashmiri Pandit, has challenged the Indian actions in the Supreme Court.

Government of Azad Kashmir has resources and the freedom to access the world community.

It is in a shared agreement with the Government of Pakistan to take the UN template to its local conclusion.

United Nations, UN Human Rights Council, Commonwealth, European Union, OIC, African Union and rest of the world could have been accessed, provided the Government of Azad Kashmir, had developed an institutional framework and linked itself with the UN template on Kashmir.

There is a difference between local self-serving optics and political tourism on Kashmir and a serious work on the jurisprudence of UN Resolutions, that is, UN template on Kashmir.

There has been the death of a generation and Hurriyat failed to connect its Constitution with the UN template on Kashmir.

We have hurt the people, habitat and have turned away from a people, who are currently oppressed by around 900000 Indian security forces.

We have an opportunity to raise the voice of Kashmir at the 77th session of UN General Assembly.

Pakistan is speaking at the 77th UNGA Session on the morning of 23 September and India on the morning of 24 September.

We hope that Pakistan’s statement on Kashmir would not be a recycled routine reference and all until the next 78th session in 2023?

The presence of Indian army and its violation of human rights is documented in two OHCHR reports.

It is time to tell the UNGA that the number has doubled since then and it stands at 900000 since 5 August 2019.

Pakistan should have courage and summon wisdom to speak exhaustively on UN template on Kashmir.

There should be a credible Kashmiri attendance at and on side lines of 77th session.

The UN’s 193-member states will be provided with a platform and 15 to 20 minutes to address the international community.

Pakistan could go for an exception to discuss Kashmir in full details. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi famously addressed the UNGA for more than 90 minutes in 2009.

I would propose that Pakistan keeps to the UN template on Kashmir and demands that India returns to her offer of keeping 21000 (twenty-one thousand) forces and that “this force will have no supporting arms such as armour or artillery”.

The precedent condition of “disbandment and disarmament of the Azad Kashmir forces” has already been met.

In addition Pakistan should demand that the Indian security forces discipline themselves as provided in para 2 (c) of UNSC Resolution 47 of 21 April 1948.

Government of Pakistan should liaise with France and remind her of her proposal made at the UNSC that “Resolutions of 13 August 1948 and 5 January 1949, to which we must always return because they won the express agreement of both India and Pakistan.

If the parties are unable to reach agreement on plan submitted to them, provision is made for arbitration, and, to make assurance doubly sure, arbitration is to be carried out by an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators appointed not by a political body but by President of International Court of Justice.

” Canadian proposal “to afford security to the people of Jammu and Kashmir” needs to be looked at.

Present PDM Govt is represented by almost all political parties. There has to be no excuse or blame game.

—The writer is President Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights.


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