United Nations role and major powers in Kashmir dispute

Sardar Mohammad Masood Khan

PRESIDENT of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Mohammad Masood Khan addressed on Friday an International Seminar On Kashmir in Kashmir House Islamabad; Text of his speech:
I want to thank the Speaker of the National Assembly for his dynamic leadership on Kashmir in Pakistan and abroad especially in the parliamentary forums. We convey our gratitude to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his seminal statement on Kashmir. He spoke as a statesmen indicating the way forward.
I commend Ms Shaza Fatima Khawaja and Ms. Romina Khurshid Alam for their hard work to organize this first ever international parliamentary seminar on Jammu and Kashmir. Thanks to their efforts, foreign delegates are attending this conference and so many young men and women, lawmakers, media-persons and diverse actors of civil society are participating in it.
Jammu and Kashmir will not remain in bondage in perpetuity. It will be freed by the people of Kashmir with the support of Pakistan and the international community.
The valleys and mountains, forests and orchards, rivers and rivulets and lakes, farms and bazaars, cities, townships and villages of the Indian Occupied Kashmir – all are resonating with one one voice, one slogan, one motto – Azadi (freedom). Men and women of all ages and especially children are crying in unison – Go India; Go Back.
And there is a mighty reason for that. In the past several months, Kashmir has lived through yet another apocalypse. Casting aside all norms of humanity, Indian occupation forces have killed hundreds, mass blinded hundreds, and grievously injured thousands. Women have been raped and dishonoured; men are picked up for for incarceration without charges, without trial. Torture and extrajudicial killings are rampant. Kashmir is a prison. People in their own land are being frisked, persecuted, brutalized, killed, and used as human shields. Children have not been spared. Men disappear; half widows wait for ever.
Several deaths, blindings and thousands injuries are directly attributable to the use of 12 gauge shotguns firing pellet guns. Mass blindings have been used for the first time on this scale as an instrument of war. India is writing a text book on gross and consistent violations of human rights anywhere in the world.
Since 1947, half a million Kashmiri Muslims have been massacred by the Indian occupation forces. These are unconscionable human rights violations; these are crimes against humanity; this is genocide. And the irony of our times is nobody has come to the rescue of the Kashmiris, the victim; and an even a bigger irony is that many powerful nations are siding with the victimizer, India.
Kashmir is no more an issue or a dispute – it is a movement for azaadi, for self-determination which has morphed into a creed because now Kashmiris say Azaadi is part of their DNA.
All the issues that I have highlighted are within the remit of the United Nations as they relate to peace and security, human rights, humanitarian law and broad international law. The Kashmir dispute has repercussions for peace and stability, restraint and responsibility and water security of South Asia. It impinges on the common aspirations of the people of South Asia for sustainable development, prosperity and connectivity. After the Concert of Europe and the League of Nations, and after the two devastating world wars of the last century, the United Nations was created to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war by stemming and resolving conflicts.
Kashmir is the litmus test of the UN’s genesis and rationale. The UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two International Covenants on civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights, and UN General Assembly Resolution 2625 – all require that the Kashmir dispute be resolved in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Above all, the UN Security Council has a responsibility to implement its own resolutions on Kashmir.
We call on the UN Security Council to hold discussions on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of the reports sent by the United Nations Military Observer Group on India and Pakistan. Only then the UN will be seized of the matter.
The call made the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, for an independent, impartial and international mission to Kashmir, with free and complete access, to make an assessment of the situation is still relevant. Pakistan has welcomed the mission; India has not. We urge participants of this seminar to urge the High Commissioner to revive and pursue his proposal.
Indian occupation forces kill non-combatants, unarmed civilians, they use excessive force and inflict mass terror attacks on them. They violate the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. We request the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to monitor and report violations of international humanitarian law in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and hold it accountable.
Major powers have an important role to play in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. We pin our hopes on the decision making bodies in the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, the Gulf and the Asia Pacific region. But our focus is on the West because of two reasons. One, we believe that Western societies are value driven and they are keen to uphold the rule of law at home and abroad. I appeal to the citizens, parliaments and governments of these countries to help us resolve the Kashmir issue.
Six myths that I would like to demolish: The Kashmir resolutions were passed under Chapter VI of the UN Charter. Some argue that Security Council resolutions passed under Chapter VI are non-binding and do not have mandatory enforceability as under Chapter VII. This is not true. This is at best a partial reading of the articles of Chapter VI. Article 33 provides for seeking a solution to a dispute that would endanger international peace and security through “negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, …” either directly or through the Security Council. Under Articles 36 and 37, especially if the parties fail to reach an understanding for a solution, the Security Council may, at any stage of a dispute, recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment; or even recommend action under Chapter VII either directly or by invoking Article 25, under which decisions of the Council on matters affecting international peace and security have an obligatory character for all Member States. Besides, no Security Council resolution in unenforceable.
Another myth peddled by India is that Pakistan is responsible for the non-implementation of the resolutions on Kashmir because Pakistan did not withdraw its troops under UN Security resolution. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The fact is that, according to Resolution 98, the reduced number of troops for Pakistani side was was to be between 3,000 and 6,000; and for India and 12,000 and 18,000. Pakistan demanded simultaneous withdrawal on both sides to these levels but India insisted that Pakistan should withdraw first. That is what stalled the plebiscite. This too was a pretext for India to take steps to illicitly annex the territory.
The freedom movement in Kashmir is not a terrorist movement: The freedom movement in Kashmir is not a separatist or secession movement because Kashmir is not an integral part of India, as India claims. Kashmiris are the key constituent of the Kashmir. No decision will be taken without them.
Kashmiris demand: 1. Halt human rights violations Rescind black laws; 2. Withdraw bulk of forces Halt action on WPR; 3. Stop selling property to non-state subjects; Ban pellet guns.
We still have an opportunity to pivot towards common ground. Let us move towards dialogue. We still have the chance to avert a greater catastrophe, a nuclear Armageddon. Dialogue is not the proverbial olive branch but a means to an olive branch. Dialogue should not be construed as weakness.

[The writer is a veteran diplomat,President Azad Jammu and Kashmir Muzaffarabad].

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