The article of Ambassador (R) Masood Khalid, was published by Pakistan Observer, titled “Kashmir Solidarity Day – 5 Feb 2022.”

We are republishing it for our readers.

Kashmir Solidarity Day – 5 Feb 2022

Kashmir is bleeding since last seventy years. Each year, Kashmiris and their Pakistani compatriots mark 5 February as the Kashmir Solidarity Day to jolt the world’s conscience against a reign of terror unleashed on helpless people by an occupying power.

India, who had herself taken the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council and whose first Prime Minister had pledged to hold a plebiscite to let the Kashmiris decide their own future, has reneged on its commitments and unabashedly calls Kashmir as its integral part.

One wonders how a country, which claims to be the largest democracy, boasts of inclusivity and secularism, aspires to become a permanent member of the Security Council, could flout international law with such impunity, and that too for so long.

India has played this farce as the international community turned a blind eye to the plight of the Kashmiri people, based on sheer expediency.

This crass indifference has caused a human tragedy while rendering Kashmir into a flash point between the two nuclear rivals.

The Jammu & Kashmir dispute is an internationally recognized dispute. UN Security Council has passed several resolutions defining the contours of a just solution in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

Not to talk of the illegal manner in which annexation of the disputed territory into the Indian Union was managed, India’s manipulation in extending its control of Jammu & Kashmir, is nothing but a classic case of deception and subterfuge.

The assertion that the Security Council resolutions have lost their validity due to changed circumstances or Pakistan failed to meet its end of the bargain, is meant to mislead the world opinion.

Pakistan is prepared even today to implement the UN resolutions; so is UN Secretary General. And Security Council resolutions are legally valid till abrogated or amended by the action of the Security Council. No such thing has happened since these resolutions were adopted.

In fact, Kashmir is very much on the agenda of the Security Council as borne out by three Security Council meetings held to discuss developments following Indian action of revoking territory’s special status.

In August 2019, Indian government unilaterally revoked Article 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution and introduced new domicile rules in a bid to change disputed region’s demography.

New land laws were promulgated allowing “Citizens of India” to purchase non-agricultural land without residency rights or domicile.

India has also imposed an unprecedented military siege restricting fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people. There have been lockdowns, fake encounters and extra-judicial killings.

Thousands, including children, have been put in jails without any legal process. These actions have been given legal immunity under a range of draconian laws.

The genocide watch has issued successive alerts citing an authoritarian military rule by a minority over majority without legal restraints; widespread violation of basic human rights; dehumanizing Muslims as “terrorists” or “criminals” cutting of means of communications etc.

There are manifestations of an exclusionary “Hinudutva” driven ideology being pursued by ruling BJP.

Many notable Indian intellectuals and human rights activists have raised their voice against these harsh and discriminatory policies, threating the lives of not only Muslims but other minorities in India and in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

The ongoing oppression in IIOJK has now been amply documented. The UN High Commission for Human Rights in its reports of 2018 and 2019 has recommended investigation.

Indian actions in occupied territory have come under criticism in a number of Parliaments, global media outlets and international organizations including UN, UNHRC, EU and OIC.

UN Secretary General has urged India to end the use of pellet guns on children and called for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute. He has endorsed Pakistan’s stance that the Security Council resolutions on Kashmir are still valid.

In May 2021, UN General Assembly President called on all parties to refrain from changing the status of Jammu & Kashmir and stated that a just solution should be found through peaceful means in accordance with UN resolutions and the UN Charter.

On 17-19 December 2021, the Russel Tribunal on Kashmir held in Sarajevo focused on war crimes by India. The Tribunal focused on four themes: genocide, decolonization, settler colonialism and crimes against humanity.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its 2021 report also gave an extensive coverage of the human rights violations in IIOJK.

Amnesty International in their report titled “The State of World’s Human Rights 2020-21” highlighted grave human rights violations in occupied territory. Concerned Citizens Group also noted the violations in its 9th Report.

In an article on 15 August 2019, (India’s Independence Day), Arundathi Roy wrote that Indian government action on 5 August 2019 has turned Kashmir “into a giant prison camp”.

She added that since 1947, there has not been a single year, when the Indian army was not deployed against its “own people” – Kashmir, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Hyderabad, Assam, being the prime examples. Arundathi Roy said that “today Kashmir is one of the most or perhaps the most densely militarized zone in the world.

More than half a million soldiers have been deployed to counter what the army itself says is now just a handful of terrorists”.

Former Chief Minister of Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah, in his interview with Karan Thapar last year sharply criticised August 2019 action, BJP’s policy of “Hindutva”, lynching of minorities, media restrictions and raised serious questions on the “future of India”, if BJP’s policy of alienation continues.

The above commentary by eminent Indians belies the Indian allegations that the freedom struggle in IIOJK is Pakistan inspired. Indian intellectuals, politicians and independent journalists are all wary about the direction of Indian policies.

Growing intolerance, discrimination and violence at the hands of BJP extremists, extensively available on visuals, against minorities and marginalized sections of society is a source of grave concern amongst the rational elements in India.

They are cautioning against this frenzy which may slide India into a deeper abyss of sectarian and religious divide.

Pakistan is concerned over this situation particularly in IIOJK, with its obvious implications for peace and security in South Asia. India’s acquisition of state-of-the-art armaments, weaponization of its nuclear programme, nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean and above all deployment of seventy percent of its weaponry and forces against Pakistan, has accelerated an arms race and disturbed strategic stability.

Pakistan has been drawing the attention of the world community towards the perils of this competition and the vicious circle in which South Asia finds itself due to India’s revisionist approach and hegemonic ambitions.

Pakistan has called for confidence building and de-escalation. It has shared a dossier on 12 September 2021 containing irrefutable evidence of HR violations, war crimes and false-flag operations by Indian forces in IIOJK.

The world needs to ask India as to why she has not been able to extinguish the quest for freedom of the Kashmiri people during the last seven decades, despite all the tactics of suppression employed.

Pakistan has an abiding interest in maintaining peace and stability in South Asia on the basis of mutual respect and sovereign equality.

Pakistan has consistently maintained that durable peaceand security and prosperity of the region is inextricably linked with peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes between India and Pakistan, particularly the Kashmir dispute.

India’s illegal and unilateral action of August 2019 has been a great setback for Pakistan’s efforts to build trust and regional peace.

The onus lies on India now to take an initiative for creating an enabling environment for a result-oriented dialogue.

The ceasefire agreement of February 2021 is consistent with Pakistan’s position to maintain peace on LoC.

Pakistan is prepared to engage constructively with India to find a just and peaceful solution of the Kashmir dispute, taking fully into account the aspirations of Kashmiris.

International community has a moral responsibility to ask India to stop its repression in IIOJK and desist from taking escalatory steps in an already fragile regional environment.

United States, which has forged a strategic partnership with India, should bring to bear its weight on her to resolve its differences with Pakistan and to settle the Kashmir dispute. Kashmir is a ticking bomb which can explode anytime.

India would be mistaken to think that it can suppress Kashmiris now which it has failed to do in the past seventy years. It is in the interest of India and all countries of South Asia that peace prevails so that the people of the region devote themselves to eradicating poverty and squalor.

This common aspiration can only be realised if as the largest country of South Asia, India makes a fresh beginning by reviewing its self-defeating policies and addresses festering disputes like Kashmir for the sake of durable peace and stability in the region.

While India shuns UN good offices and facilitation by a third party in Indo-Pakistan disputes and advocates bilateral channels, the fact remain that attempts in the past utilizing bilateral track to resolve their disputes, have mostly failed.

Pakistan has, therefore, apprised P-5, UN, OIC and friendly countries of the dangers inherent in the current stalemate.

Since August 2019, the Foreign Minister has written letters to UN Security General, President UNGA, OHCHR and EU on the alarming situation in the occupied territory. In his interactions, the Prime Minister has also sensitized his interlocutors of the situation resulting from Indian policies.

While Pakistan will continue these efforts, firmly standing on the side of Kashmiris in this hour of trial, it expects from the members of the international community to take cognizance of the situation, realise its gravity and use their respective good offices to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan and help resolve the Kashmir dispute.

 

*The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the position of the institution.

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