At UN, Pakistan asks India to restore Kashmir’s autonomy

NEW YORK: Pakistan has called on India to put an end to rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, reverse demographic changes there, and restore the region’s autonomy by rescinding its “illegal” measures of August 5, 2019, to pave the way for a dialogue aimed at resolving the decades-old dispute.

“The onus is on India to create conditions for a dialogue to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” Munir Akram, Islamabad’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said in his opening remarks at a webinar organised by Pakistan’s mission to mark Youm-i-Istehsal — the third anniversary of the Indian siege of occupied region.

At the same time, he said the dispute must be resolved on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions that granted the people of Kashmir the right to self-determination.

“The only legal basis for the resolution of the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir is the Security Council’s decision contained in Resolution 47 of 1948 and several subsequent Security Council resolutions, stipulating that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir is to be decided by its people through a free and fair plebiscite conducted under UN supervision,” the envoy said.

Pakistan desires peaceful relations with India, but New Delhi was heightening tensions in the Muslim-majority region by resorting to state terrorism against the besieged people.

“To avoid this obligation and justify its colonial occupation and oppression, India has sought to portray the Kashmiri freedom struggle as terrorism,” he said, adding the Kashmiris were campaigning for their recognised right to self-determination which cannot be equated with terrorism.

Ambassador Akram also denounced India’s arrest and torture of the top pro-freedom leadership, especially Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chair Yasin Malik, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a so-called investigation court, and called for his immediate release from prison where Malik has resorted to a hunger strike.

In August 2019, the government of Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, abolished Article 370 of the Constitution, ending the region’s autonomy and removing its statehood by splitting it into the federal territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Buddhist-dominated Ladakh.

In his keynote speech, Zeid bin Ra’ad, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Right, referred to the first-ever report on the situation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir that he authored in 2018 and the one issued by his successor, Michelle Bachelet, saying these two reports along with the recommendations contained in them are very much still UN documents, and must be implemented.

The UN must oversee, defend and promote its recommendations, including the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry, as the situation in the disputed territory has deteriorated, he said.

While there is a general awareness of how colossal the crisis could still be to international human international peace and security, Ra’ad regretted the international press’ attention is often too fleeting, but the two reports remain important.

Pointing out that following New Delhi’s decision to revoke article 370 in 2019, the Security Council held closed meetings at the initiative of Pakistan and China, he said: “It’s the rarity of the council’s meeting, which makes me feel so uncomfortable.”

The UN, Ra’ad added, ought to be discussing these critical issues in all relevant bodies, adding there was nothing in the 1972 Simla agreement that prevents examination of human rights violations and sending of missions to verify the situation.

“There was nothing in the UN Charter which says that certain regions of the world that will be exempted from the scrutiny that somehow they are immune from or elevated beyond UN consideration, nothing at all.”

Following the publication of his report, Ra’ad said, Pakistan had agreed to receive UN rights investigators, but India rejected it outrightly, and the recommendation for an inquiry commission remains unaddressed.

India’s rejection only shows it is hiding something and called on the government to reconsider, he said.

“It is the current UN leadership which should be involved and they must not feel intimidated in any way,” he said, pointing out that too many Kashmiris have suffered are still suffering from gross human rights violations and their suffering must not be ignored as UN officials have a duty toward ensuring that ultimately there must be no impunity.

Representatives of key OIC nations also reaffirmed their support for the Kashmiri people’s UN-pledged rights to self-determination.

They included Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz Al Wasil; the Deputy Permanent Representative of Turkey, Oncu Keceli, and Tofig Musayev, Deputy Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the United Nations as well as Leyla Aslanova, Adviser to OIC Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations.

Other panellists were: Kashmiri leader Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, and activists including Mushaal Hussain Mallick, Muzzamil Ayuub Thakur, and Danielle Khan also spoke, some narrating their personal experiences of Indian excesses.

In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Akram said: “Considering the continuing massive violations of human rights in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, including the danger of genocide, the absence of any dialogue for the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and the ever-present threat of conflict between two nuclear-armed States, the international community cannot continue to neglect the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the accompanying threat to international peace and security.

“It is Pakistan’s strong desire to have the Security Council, and the Secretary-General, promote a peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people by fully utilizing the modalities provided for in Chapter VI of the UN Charter, including Articles 33, 34 and 99 of the Charter.”

A moving documentary on the Kashmiri’s for freedom, produced by Pakistan’s mission, was also screened.

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