Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has said that the report published by the UN Office of the High Commissioner has comprehensively listed massive and gross human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir; but this, he stressed, was just the tip of the iceberg and is only scratching the surface on the actual situation in the occupied territory.
The President made these remarks while speaking at a seminar on “UN Report: International Community awakens to Human Rights Violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir”, organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) here today. Other speakers at the event included Ambassador Riaz Khokhar, former Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Imtiaz Ahmed, Additional Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ahmed Qureshi, Executive Director Youth Forum for Kashmir.
Ahmed Qureshi praised the magnanimous gesture by Pakistan to readily welcome fact-finding missions to Azad Kashmir. He said that even human rights organisations and civil society in India have acknowledged the fact that the issue of Kashmir has worsened due to the mistakes of both the Indian military and Indian foreign policy.
Riaz Khokhar complimented all the institutions for making it possible for releasing the report. He said despite the report being released by an official organisation of the UN, it has been rejected by India. He added that this was due to India’s delusion and trying to wriggle out of allowing fact-finding missions to IOK.
The President in his speech thanked Aizaz Chaudhry, Director General ISSI for organising this event and inviting such distinguished speakers to speak on this very important issue. The President said that we have yet to publicise this report.
He praised Zaid Raad Al Hussain for courageously publishing this report and also commended Secretary general for owning this report. He said that this report has been published by a neutral body which is an official organization of the UN. He said that the report is comprehensive and is a product of remote monitoring as India denied access to the UN fact finding missions.
He said that the report has comprehensively listed massive human rights violations including arbitrary arrests, detentions, enforced disappearances, use of lethal pellet guns resulting in the blinding of peaceful demonstrators, violations of freedom of speech and information, murders and use of sexual violence by Indian forces. He said that India has violated the norms of all the major international conventions and laws . and that too with impunity.
The President said that calling these acts as human rights violations is a euphemism as they constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
President Masood Khan said that the report has presented weighty recommendations which need to be acted upon. These include allowing a commission of inquiry into these human rights violations. He added that the report has asked India to repeal draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act, which even Amnesty International has termed as lawless laws. He said that according to the recommendations by the OHCHR, India will never conduct an inquiry into the mass graves and the human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
India, he said is falsely considered IOK as an integral part of India. It’s a false logic as they are occupiers and by simply writing it into their constitution it does not make it an integral part, he said. The President said that after over 70 years of economic and political blandishments Kashmiris are still struggling against the occupation in IOK.
The President while referring to Narendra Modi’s aggressive and irrational stance on Kashmir said, “Jammu and Kashmir does not belong to you, you will have to walk away from this land. The writing is on the wall and the Kashmiris chant one slogan and that is: Go India, Go Back”, he said.
The report, he said has categorically stated that India must give the Kashmiris their inalienable right to self-determination in accordance with the UN resolutions. He added that in 1995 the International Commission of Jurists in their report have also demanded that Kashmiris be allowed to exercise their right to self-determination after the UN has acknowledged this right to them.
The international community’s reaction, he said, has been driven by realpolitik. It has been motivated by strategic, economic and political interests, adding that, “We can not allow mercantile diplomacy to hijack peace in the region”, he said. He stressed that the UN must forgo it’s exceedingly neutral stance and side with the victims – the innocent people of Kashmir – whose rights are being violated.
President Khan said that India will never succeed in subjugating the people of Kashmir into giving up their struggle for their right to self-determination. He said that the people of Kashmir are the key party of the conflict. India, he said, does not recognise them as a party to the issue calling it the greatest oxymoron as Kashmiris alone have to decide their political future themselves.
He said we have nothing to hide in AJK, as there are no human rights violations, no illegal arrests, no restriction of speech in the State. He said that we are the most literate region in all of Pakistan and our government is focusing on good governance and economic development. He said that AJK has been frequently visited by Ambassadors of various nations, UN delegations and even MPs from the UK and other countries.
He said that we must forge unity amongst our ranks and take this issue to the international community as bilateral dialogue has failed. We must, he said, leverage the strengths of the Pakistani-Kashmiri diaspora and use traditional and modern means of media, to garner support for the Kashmir issue and help make ingress into the global civil society and also the Indian civil society.
The President said that Pakistan has never backed from its stance on Kashmir even though it has faced numerous difficulties on the diplomatic front. Today, the issue of Kashmir is alive because of the sacrifices of the Kashmiris and the continued political and diplomatic support of Pakistan.
The event was also attended by former Ambassadors, members of the diplomatic community, scholars, academicians, researchers and representatives of the electronic and print media.