IIOJK in focus

Speakers explain Kashmir, Palestine issues through ‘settler colonialism policy’

Karachi, March 15 (KMS): A seminar on the topic of ‘The future of Palestine and Kashmir: Examining the History and Geopolitical Importance’ was organized by the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi, and the Palestine Foundation Pakistan.

Addressing to the seminar, Dr Shaista Tabassum, chairperson of the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi, said Palestine is suffering from “settler colonialism”, which is a systematic control and occupying system of land by settlers. “In this system, they come to stay and replace indigenous people. In comparison, colonialism is an event to come and exploit, while ‘settler colonialism’ is structured. The objective is to form a state,” she said, adding that historically, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia all went through the same thing.

Dr Shaista said South Africa’s apartheid situation was due to settler colonialism, like Kenya and Argentina. Two relevant examples of settler colonialism are Palestine and Kashmir issues.

She said, “in the Palestine case, it was structurally started after 1967, when the state of Israel adopted the settler colonialism policy as its state policy. They conceive the state of Israel as the promised holy land. One aspect was due to religious destination and the other was because of the geopolitical importance of the West Bank and Gaza strip. In 1979, the state of Israel adopted the whole land policy for the empowerment of the state to sell land to anyone (West Bank and Gaza). Moreover, the Israeli military occupied some land called as “Abandon Area” and encouraged Jews people to buy land.”

Additionally, Dr Shaista said, Israeli settlements are mostly in agriculture area or arable land which was a source of income for Palestinian people. Because 25 percent of the water sources are in the West Bank, Israel is continuously trying to control them, she added.

Dr Shaista said in today’s world, Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir is becoming relevant to settler colonialism, as the Indian government has revoked Articles 370 and 35-A. She said that the Indian government authorised 25 acres of land to a soldiers’ colony in occupied Kashmir and issued 4.2 million illegal domiciles to ease the buying of land. Also, the Indian government is trying to bring a demographic change to IIOJK as Israel has done in Palestine, she said.

Secretary General Palestine Foundation-Pakistan Dr Sabir Abu Maryam highlighted the myths of Palestine and the Palestinian people and talked about the reasons why Israel was created. He said that the objective of the state of Israel was to become a “Greater Israel”. He added that the orthodox Jews opposed the state of Israel and supported the Palestinian cause.

Dr Sabir said the only solution of Kashmir and Palestine issues is the practical implementation of the right to self-determination by holding a free and fair referendum. He said a peaceful justice-based solution is needed.

Human rights expert, Dr Khalida Ghous, focused on the UN resolutions of Palestine and Kashmir and also on UN Human Rights Council’s reports.

She emphasised that the international community has been active individually as well as collectively over the Palestine issue, but despite having resolutions over the Kashmir conflict, no concrete initiative has been taken for the Kashmir issue. The Muslim world is silent and not pitching its voice against atrocities committed by the Indian and Israeli governments, she deplored.

In these international disputes, serious violations of international humanitarian laws have been committed over which the international community is silent, she remarked.

Brig retired Haris Nawaz said that in 1947, the Britishers deliberately created the Kashmir dispute just like Palestine. After the revoking of Article 370, the problems are getting worse due to demographic change in IIOJK.

According to Brig Nawaz, the most dangerous act is that the Narendra Modi-led Hindutva Indian government is making seven new constituencies to get the majority in occupied Kashmir. The human rights abuses with children and women in occupied Kashmir are drastically increasing day by day.

He added that the Pakistan Army will never compromise on the importance of the Kashmir cause.

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