UNSG Antonio Guterres visit

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Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad
THE UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is visiting Pakistan from 16-19 February 2020. During the visit, our leadership will share Pakistan’s perspective on all aspects of Jammu and Kashmir dispute. While observing the Kashmir solidarity day (Feb 5), let us not forget Kashmir is a simmering cauldron under a lockdown. For over seven decades, India has denied Kashmiris’ their right to self-determination. India claims that occupied Kashmir’s constituent assembly had voted for accession of Kashmir to India. This is a big lie. A fugitive maharaja signed an accession document while violating the standstill agreement he had signed earlier with Pakistan. On the basis of that fraudulent ‘accession’ India says it is no longer necessary for it to let the promised plebiscite be held in Kashmir. Undivided India’s last viceroy and India’s first governor general, Lord Mountbatten, played a major part in this fraud. According to his biographer, Ziegler, Mountbatten had a ‘powerful, analytic mind of crystalline clarity’. Yet he had ‘legendary capacity for self-deception’. He ‘was a man who preferred falsehood to truth’. The last sentence of the accession document was written in haste and the handwritten corrections on the text speak volumes about the wavering state of the maharajah’s mind. The instrument, extracted under coercion and duress, is untenable under international law. The UN Security Council passed two resolutions that virtually repudiate the accession. The Security Council’s resolution number nine of March 30, 1951, and confirmatory resolution 122 of March 24, 1957, outlaw accession or any other action to change status of the Jammu and Kashmir state. India gives the impression that the US considers the state’s so-called accession legal. This is not true.
On Oct 28, 1993, Under Secretary of State Robin Raphel in her statement clarified that Washington did not recognise the instrument of accession to India. In the UN’s perception, Kashmir was a disputed territory, not an integral part of India. The future status of the state remains to be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir. Through a host of draconian measures, India has gagged digital and voice protests in disputed Kashmir. It has barred local and foreign journalists from visiting India-occupied Kashmir. Indian forces fire pellets, called birdshots, with pump-action shotguns against unarmed protesters or stone throwers, even women, and children five to eight years’ old. A New York Times report titled “An epidemic of ‘dead eyes’ in Kashmir as India uses pellet guns on protesters” (Aug 28, 2016) portrays a gruesome picture. It says “the patients have mutilated retinas, severed optic nerves, irises seeping out like puddles of ink’. Doctors call them ‘dead eyes’.”
A similar report in Washington Post (Dec 12, 2017) is no less poignant. Let India realise it can’t stifle Kashmiris’ dissent. To stifle the Kashmiri’s fighting spirit, the Dogra regime (1846-1947) punished even Kashmiri children who played with fork-slings (ghulail) and stones. The struggle for freedom goes on despite Indian forces’ reign of terror which includes abductions, custodial deaths, rape, arson and pellet shelling. The UN Security Council should make clear that it opposes Narendra Modi’s brutal tightening of India’s control on Kashmir. While Modi may think he can control this volatile conflict on his own, he almost certainly cannot. India has enforced a blockade which has crippled communications as well as commerce in the held region, whereas thousands have been detained since the crackdown began last year. These have included Kashmiri lawmakers who were at one time staunch allies of New Delhi, but who have now been given the rough end of the stick by those they once served. But it is the ordinary Kashmiri who has borne the brunt of New Delhi’s brutish tactics, with security forces frequently conducting midnight raids and torturing unarmed citizens. Moreover, many of the Muslim states have also preferred to remain silent, barring a few notable exceptions such as Malaysia.
While realpolitik may dominate international relations, those in the global community who claim to be champions of rights and freedom must speak much louder for the voiceless Kashmiris and let India know that its brutal suppression of the held region is unacceptable. Will the slumbering UN wake up to see the plight of Kashmiris under Indian yoke? Pakistan must continue its moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris. This country has religious, cultural and blood ties with Kashmir and neither the state nor the citizenry will remain silent as India’s attempts to crush the occupied region’s people continue. The situation may be depressing at the moment but the Kashmiris must not give up hope and should continue their democratic struggle for rights. And as they continue to resist India’s tyranny in their quest for dignity, fundamental rights and freedom, Kashmiris should know that Pakistan and its people stand with them in their hour of trial.
—The writer is former Federal Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.