UN Human Rights 18th Session 2011
I would like to thank the host Committee of this program and especially Susan Mazur for organizing this important discussion on Kashmir.
I stand before this August assembly because my people and I still harbor hope in it. I stand here to remind this assembly that it has unfinished business in Kashmir. I do not stand here to lobby against India or in favor of Pakistan. I am here to represent the wishes of my people who continue to believe that justice can be procured through the United Nations.
Our people are constantly reminded of the fact that it was in 1948 and 1949 that the United Nations adopted two resolutions that clearly state that the people of Kashmir have the right to determine their own future through a free and impartial vote. On behalf of the people of Kashmir, I stand here to ask the United Nations to follow through on its commitment to the people of Kashmir.
The people of Kashmir are baffled that, while the resolutions of the Security Council have been strictly enforced in the Iraq – Kuwait situation, while the principle of the protection of human rights has been legitimately invoked for intervention by the United Nations to relieve the plight of the Kurds, while the future of Namibia has been determined through elections under the auspices of United Nations, while Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have been admitted as members of the Organization, while the Soviet republics have been allowed to opt for independence, the case of Kashmir which is larger and more populous than scores of Member states of the United Nations has been consigned to oblivion.
We must mention here that, by no stretch of the imagination, can the situation in Kashmir be treated as India’s internal matter, as India argues. Kashmir is recognized as a disputed territory under international law and the United Nations bears the responsibility of preventing the massive violations of human rights that are being committed by the Indian occupation regime. The movement in Kashmir is not a secessionist movement, because Kashmir cannot secede from what it never acceded to in the first place. Nor is the Kashmir dispute a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan; it involves not an undemarcated boundary between the two states but the life and future of 12 million people.
We must mention here that even in today’s violent world, the behavior of the Indian occupation regime in Kashmir is singular in as much as it has enjoyed total impunity. Not a word of condemnation has been uttered at the United Nations; not even a call on India to cease and desist from its near – genocidal campaign. This is not merely a case of passivity and inaction; in practical effect, it amounts to an abetment and encouragement of murderous tyranny. If tyranny is not condoned inside the territory of a Member State of the United Nations, is there not greater reason for the United Nations to intervene when the territory is one whose disposition is to be determined though a fair vote under the impartial auspices of the world organization?
The All Parties Hurriyet (Freedom) Conference which represents the broader spectrum of the opinion of the people of Kashmir, demands that a credible negotiating process be initiated immediately to resolve the appalling situation in Kashmir. For the process to achieve an equitable and lasting settlement of the dispute, it must
- a) fully associate the representatives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir
- b) provide for each successive step towards settlement being supervised by the United Nations or any impartial agreed body set up for the purpose.
We are maintaining this constructive position despite the outrage caused, and the indescribable suffering inflicted on our people, by the barbarities of the Indian occupation forces. The current phase of our campaign for freedom started with massive unarmed demonstrations and it is not our policy to obstruct any genuine move towards a just and peaceful solution. This being our stand, we have welcomed if the Governments of India and Pakistan agree to hold talks on all aspects of the Kashmir issue.
We owe it to the interests of peace to enter two caveats along with this welcome.The first caveat is that as the dispute involves three parties – India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir who are the most directly affected – any attempt to strike a deal between the two without the association of the third, will fail to yield a credible settlement. This has been made unmistakably clear by the flimsy arguments that were contrived in the past.
The present situation inside Kashmir makes it clear that, if talks between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan are to mean anything, they must be accompanied by practical measures to restore an environment of non-violence, free from state terrorism. Contrary to the sensible course we suggest, the Indian authorities in Kashmir have persisted relentlessly, even after the announcement of the intention to hold talks, in committing atrocities and holding Kashmir under siege. India cannot talk peace with Pakistan while India is at war with Kashmir.
Nevertheless, the expected talks during the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations can be useful if they reflect a sense of urgency and prepare the ground for an earnest effort to frame a step-by-step plan of settlement.
If a response to the gravity of the situation is intended, we firmly believe that the following measures are essential:
- i) There must be an immediate and complete cessation of military and paramilitary action by Indian forces against the people of Kashmir;
- ii) Torture and killings of persons arrested and captured by Indian forces must be immediately stopped;
- iii) All bunkers, watch towers and barricades set up by the Indian military and paramilitary forces in towns and villages must be immediately dismantled;
- iv) The military presence in towns and villages must be completely withdrawn;
- v) All those imprisoned in connection with resistance to the Indian occupation must be immediately and unconditionally released and cases instituted against them under the so-called emergency laws must be withdrawn;
- vi) The Governments of India and Pakistan should provide facilities to Kashmiri leadership on both sides of the cease-fire line to confer and submit their own proposals regarding the procedures of peaceful settlement.
These six steps would constitute a moratorium on the uses of force and end the embargo imposed by India on a political effort to resolve the situation. However, for the talks between India and Pakistan to have any real significance, a joint declaration from them is needed to the effect that
- a) they do not contemplate a military solution of the Kashmir problem;
- b) the two Prime Ministers are ready to meet to set a peace process in motion;
- c) the genuine representative of the people of Kashmir will be fully associated with the process;
- d) should a stalemate arise, India and Pakistan are willing to invite or accept impartial mediation and make a reference to the United Nations.
Although we are dismayed by the lack of action by the world powers to help stop the carnage in Kashmir and by their virtual indifference to the situation in our land. The isparity between their inaction and their repeated assertion that the protection of human rights and encouragement of democratic solutions are their major foreign policy goals is hard for us to understand.
Nevertheless, we still have confidence that they will realize, that what is at stake in the dispute is not only our people’s survival, but peace in the populous region of South Asia and also the basis of a civilized world order.
We are mindful of the existence in India of sections of sane and enlightened opinion that deplore the Kashmir policy pursued by their Government and have come to the conclusion that it is causing grave damage to India’s reputation and lowered its international standing. Compared to the clamorous bigoted and fundamentalist forces in India, these sections speak only in soft tones, and have yet to influence policy – makers. We assure them, nevertheless, that their efforts have deeply gratified us and we hope that they will sustain their campaign which responds equally to genuine patriotism and to human conscience.
Finally, we again urge the members of the Security Council, the Secretary General of the United Nations, indeed to intensify, their watch over the situation in Kashmir and not to be lulled into the belief that the dialogue between India and Pakistan, in the form it appears to be contemplated at present, will soften the conflict or lessen the urgent need for mediatory initiatives. The policy that aims at merely defusing the situation, whatever that may mean, and not encouraging a credible settlement has not paid in the past. It is likely to do even less now.