Webinar to commemorate Kashmiris’ right to self-determination held in New York

New York, January 08 (KMS):  A webinar was held in New York to commemorate the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.

In his key-note address, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Munir Akram, said that this was to mark the fifth of January 1949, when the UN Commission for Pakistan and India (UNCIP) adopted the resolution, promising the right of self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir through the holding of an impartial plebiscite under auspices of the United Nations. This resolution and subsequent resolutions of the Security Council concerning the final disposition of Jammu and Kashmir and the provisions of the resolution were accepted by all parties to the conflict. They are binding on both Pakistan and India. Unfortunately, over the course of the last 73 years, India has failed to implement these resolutions of the Security Council. First, by resorting to various forms of obfuscation, and deviousness and delay, and later, through a campaign of massive oppression which in the course of a 10-year period, from 1989 to 1999, killed over 100,000 Kashmiris and brought untold suffering to Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The latest ploy by India is to impose its unilateral measures from 5 August 2019 when it sought to obliterate its special status. These acts were aimed at destroying the state of Kashmiris’ distinct identity to induct 900,000 troops to oppress the freedom struggle of its people; to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir; and transform it from a Muslim majority state to a minority territory by the Indian government.

Ambassador Akram further emphasized that Pakistan was of course, entirely, and fully committed to the freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people from the outset and since five August 2019. Pakistan has also put together a detailed dossier, which lists over 3400 specific crimes committed by Indian forces in IIOJK and have called for the persons responsible for these crimes to be held accountable.

Ambassador Akram added that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has set out the conditions for the resumption of dialogue with India. And the conditions are three: First, Halt in India’s human rights violations in IIOJK. Secondly, the immediate cancellation of all the unilateral measures taken by India post August 2019; and third, reverse the process of demographic change in Jammu and Kashmir.

Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General of World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF), said that Kashmir was the oldest unresolved international conflict still pending on the agenda of the Security Council. And that Kashmir was the only international dispute where the solution of the conflict – right to self-determination – was suggested by the parties themselves, India and Pakistan.

Dr Fai cited the example by quoting Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who said on 29 July 1947 in Delhi, “I am not going to suggest to the Maharaja (Ruler of Kashmir) to accede to India and not to Pakistan. The real sovereign of the state are the people. The ruler is a servant of the people.” “Kashmir would belong to the Kashmiris.” Fai also quoted columnist Swaminathan Aiyar of New Delhi wrote in The Times of India “We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and give them three choices: independence, union with Pakistan, and union with India. Let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.”

“Much is being made of the fact that seven decades have passed since the principled solution was formulated by the United Nations with almost universal support. Mere passage of time or the flight from realities cannot alter the fact that these resolutions remain unimplemented until today. The United Nations resolutions can never become obsolete or overtaken by events or changed circumstances. The passage of time cannot invalidate an enduring and irreplaceable principle – the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir, Dr Fai explained.

The WKAF General Secretary made an appeal to the Secretary General of the UN to persuade India to take four steps. 1. Rescind Domicile Law which was designed to change the demography of Kashmir; 2. Release all political prisoners, including Yasin Malik, Khurram Parvez, Shabbir Shah, Aasiya Andrabi and Masarrat Aalam; 3. Repeal all special repressive laws; and 4. Restore the rights of peaceful association, assembly and demonstrations.

Ms Victoria Schofield, British biographer and historian said that our aim as we know is to show solidarity on the occasion of the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination day – in the light of the UNCIP resolution of 5 January 1949. It goes without saying that I condemn all human rights abuses – the longer the issue remains unresolved the higher the statistics…the more dangerous globally the issue becomes and the more people suffer.

Again – Ms Schofield added, putting the resolution in its historical context – two prior resolutions – one passed by the Security Council in April 1948 and the other by the recently established UNCIP in August 1948 – had already endorsed this process. The 5 January 1949 resolution was meant to resolve aspects of disagreement which had already arisen and then move forward to the resolution. What is the resolution’s significance today, she asked, in relation to the inhabitants’ right of self-determination? I would suggest, together with the other key resolutions, that it still establishes the necessary principle of consultation, of reference to the people, of self-determination.

So, considering where we are today – and appraising ‘the right of the Kashmiris to self-determination in the light of UNCIP resolution of 5 January 1949,’ – it is important that we learn from the history, we understand why the resolution was passed, what the context was, and why it failed. We also have to move on. But that does not mean forgetting the Kashmir issue or setting it aside. We have a voice, we have a pen, we need to continue to highlight the situation so that the inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir can enjoy, like us, in the privileged western world, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Ms Victoria explained.

Dr SH Shaheed Soharwardi, Professor of International Relations at Peshawar University, said United Nations resolutions adopted by the Security Council, be it Palestine or Kashmir need to be implemented. Human rights standards should be the perquisite for any member country to maintain the status at the United Nations. Those who are violating the international agreements need to be banned from joining any session of the United Nations General Assembly or the Security Council.

Dr Soharwardi added that India is involved in human rights violations including extrajudicial killings in Kashmir. India is using all methods to change the demography of Kashmir, be it land grabbing, allowing non-Kashmiris to settle in Kashmir. Human Rights Council needs can be instrumental in handling the situation there.

Dr Soharwardi explained that the United Nations has to play a role to persuade member countries to abide by its Charter and other relevant Security Council resolutions, whether in Palestine or Kashmir. In order to avoid more human tragedy, the UN must initiate peace talks over Kashmir. United Nations has played a very important role, particularly in East Timor, which gives us hope that if it can happen in East Timor, it can happen in Kashmir too. World powers need to settle the Kashmir issue for the sake of international peace and security.

Dr Halil Thoker, Professor at Istanbul University, Turkey said that he felt embarrassed, as a human being, of the fact that after 75 years since the occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by Indian Army and after 73 years since 5th January resolution of 1949 by the UNSC, we are here together again and discussing how a nation’s right of self-determination has been denied and how a nation is being subjugated to live under inhuman conditions created by an occupation force.

As a human being and a human right activist whenever I look at the Kashmir problem, naturally, I see a problem from the human rights perspective. So I started going through the human right reports and other resources so that I may present more reliable information. However, when I went through and found the human right abuses in Kashmir and crimes against Kashmiri people, I thought it will be better to take a look at the UN Charters and concerning papers about the human right abuses, Dr Thoker emphasized.

Dr Thoker explained that he was not a lawyer, nor an expert of international relations, nevertheless, when he read the Article 7 of Roma Statue concerning “crime against humanity” and Article 8 of Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II concerning “war crimes”, without any hesitation his logic had it connected the crimes committed by Indian forces in Kashmir to those Articles 7 and 8 of UN regulations.

In short, the situation in Kashmir is alarming and the rest of world should act against the inhuman offenses committed against the people of Kashmir. As the members of human race, we should declare that human right violations in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir are not acceptable, and the right of Self-Determination of Kashmiri people must be respected and United Nation resolutions must be implemented as soon as possible.

Lars Rise, Norwegian parliamentarian said that the United Nations Security Council resolutions stemming back to 1948 and expressly endorsed by both India and Pakistan mandate a self-determination referendum for Jammu and Kashmir under the United Nations supervision. Negotiations between India and Pakistan have failed to break the logjam for an equally long period. It is time to recognize the true Kashmiri leadership should be recognized as the principal party to the dispute. It was a glaring mistake from the outset in 1948 to exclude Kashmiris from discussions over their future destiny.

Lars Rise emphasized that he never considered the Kashmir conflict a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. It is the issue of the right of self-determination that was promised to the people of Kashmir by both India and Pakistan and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. Modi, Lars Rise added, is violating all international conventions. We must call Modi what he is – a criminal – who even banned the Missionaries of Mother Teressa Charity.

Norway, he added, being the member of the Security Council in 2022 can play a role in the right direction. He still believed that appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir could bring the parties together and that it was time that both India and Pakistan realize that until the people of Kashmir are included in the peace process, any negotiations between these two neighbours may not lead them to any logical conclusion.

Muzzammil Ayub Thakur, Director of Justice Foundation, said as we remember this day as the Right to Self-Determination Day, I’d like to remind everyone the urgency of achieving self-determination for the people of IIOJK. Right to self-determination will always remain relevant but the precondition to that is not just the end, but the reversal of India’s settler colonial project to force demographic change. Since 5th August 2019, India have taken many steps towards fulfilling their promise of an Akhand Bharat, a pan Hindu nation.

Muzzammil warned that Genocide Watch issued an alert 2 years ago, warning genocide is imminent. Bear in mind modern genocides and ethnic cleanings don’t necessarily happen by bullets and tanks and missiles. Modern Indian fascism has paved the way to accomplishing their agenda of a pan Hindutva nation.

The youth of Kashmir, he added, have announced that no compromise on principles and ideology. The intellectual and ideological lines of demarcations have been drawn. They have sacrificed far too much to sit on a fence and appease everyone. “We must devise a plan for sustainability of this resistance, fostering a new generation of leaders, thinkers, writers, activists, strategists etc, willing to give up everything as I have. Space needs to be filled by the new generation, well equipped and adept in the modern world. Our enemies are organised, and they evolve and adapt quickly. We must too, Muzzammil observed.

Muzdalfa, British Kashmiri youth representative, said yet again, we are witnessing another anniversary of the non-implementation of the Security Council resolution on Kashmir. It’s been 73 years since self-determination plebiscite in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir remains unfulfilled. Self-determination is one of the fundamental rights codified in all major human rights instruments as well as the United Nations Charter. The denial of this right and subjugation of Kashmiris is the very negation of human dignity.

Muzdalfa emphasized that in these seven decades, we have seen Kashmir becoming one of the most militarized zones in the world, where Indian occupation forces have committed massive human rights violations that have been documented in two reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2018 and 2019. India’s continuous aggression against the Kashmiri people shows that peace could only be restored by a free and fair self-determination plebiscite. Therefore, Secretary General of the United Nations should call India out for its inhuman actions taken in IIOJK and fulfill its obligation of holding a free and impartial plebiscite, to let the Kashmiris exercise their right to self-determination.

Towards the end, Mr Raees Warsi read an emotional poem specifically for the occasion.