Voice of Kashmiris becomes stronger

AT long last the struggle and sacrifices of Kashmiris for their legitimate rights have started bearing fruit as their plight resonates at relevant world forum and the Indian Army Chief has been forced to acknowledge defeat in the face of firm resolve of the Kashmiri people to get their birth right of self-determination at all costs. Two major developments on Kashmir front – one the first ever UN report on the human rights situation in Occupied Kashmir and the other statement of Gen Bipin Rawat acknowledging he can stop so-called ‘infiltration’ but not Kashmiri youth from joining the freedom struggle. Both related reports speak of an important shift in global thinking as well as that of the Indian Establishment that has now come to the conclusion that brutal use of force against Kashmiris was not the answer and that dialogue will have to be initiated.
The report of the UN Human Rights Council and remarks of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein should serve as an eye-opener for the UN Security Council and the General Assembly, which should devote their attention urgently to the grave situation in Occupied Jammu & Kashmir where Indian forces have been engaged in trampling fundamental rights of innocent people for a long time with impunity. His call for establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violation in Kashmir should not go unattended. Pakistan has also welcomed the proposal considering it consistent with its several calls to this effect since 2016, even as India has continued to ignore legitimate demands for probe into gross and systematic violations, including pellet guns, excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest and detentions as well as continued sexual violence as part of overall impunity enjoyed by Indian security forces.
It is also significant to note that the first UN report that lists human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir after assassination of Wani is not comprehensive but a tip of the iceberg, therefore, a complete picture could emerge only if the UN is provided access to the area, which is presently a no-go zone not for the outside world but also Indian media and local human rights activists. The UN was not able to have firsthand information on the grave situation as India refused an earlier offer by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to send a fact-finding mission to the IoK and the report was product of remote monitoring. Non-permission to the outside world to the area is a clear indication that India has to hide its crimes against humanity. It is also time for the UN to listen to the recommendation of its High Commissioner who has called for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1990 (AFSPA). Though the High Commissioner has recommended that India’s Public Safety Act 1978 (PSA) be amended, but this black law should also be repealed as it has been called ‘lawless law’ by Amnesty International and these two laws along with other draconian laws have been the principal instruments of coercion used by the Indian occupation forces.
We also endorse demand of President of Azad Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan that in line with the findings and recommendations of the High Commissioner, India should release all political prisoners, remove blanket restrictions on access to the Internet and mobile telephone networks and ban on the movement of journalists and publication of newspapers in Indian Occupied Kashmir. An independent, impartial and credible investigation should be conducted in regard to all unmarked mass graves in the occupied territory. Such an investigation should be done by an international forum because the Kashmiris do not trust the Indian institutions of the occupation regime in the IoK.
The remarks of the Indian Army Chief that killing would not resolve the conflict as Kashmiri youth would continue to join the struggle is also an acknowledgement of the fact that struggle of Kashmiris was indigenous and accusations against Pakistan of cross-LoC support are baseless and are motivated by the desire to give the colour of terrorism to the movement for right to self-determination.
We hope that New Delhi would give serious thought to the proposal of General Rawat for dialogue but the process has to be genuine and not an eyewash as has been the case since partition of the sub-continent. Kashmiris want dialogue on their right to self-determination and not any so-called concession under the Indian Constitution as they are fully resolved to throw the yoke of Indian subjugation. UN also has an obligation to convince India to grant Kashmiris their right as pledged under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.

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