Muzaffarabad; Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, conveyed his deepest gratitude to the All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG), in the UK Parliament, which under the dynamic leadership of Honourable Chris Leslie, British Member of Parliament, has been raising its voice for the protection of human rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and their right to self-determination
Sardar Masood Khan made these remarks after receiving a nine-member British Parliamentary delegation comprising Members of Parliament Chris Leslie, Imran Hussain, Lord Qurban Hussain and Faisal Rasheed, as well as Member of European Parliament Ms. Anthea McIntyre.
The President apprised the British delegation that life in the occupied Kashmir had been paralysed due to Indian atrocities and the popular reaction to human rights violations by the occupation forces in the territory. Last week India used deadly force to kill six young men in one of its notorious cordon and search operations in Kulgam.
The entrapped people of Kashmir, the AJK President said, had sought intervention of the international organizations and international community to protect life, honor and dignity of the Kashmiri people and their leadership. “They need to be protected from the unbridled wrath of Indian forces, paramilitary troops and intelligence agencies”, said President Khan.
“The paradise on earth is a paradise on fire”, said the President.
The President also drew the attention of the Parliamentarians on the recently published report of the Office of the High commissioner for Human Rights which is a strong indictment against India for committing massive human rights violations. These includes, Lack of access to justice and impunity, impeding access to justice by military courts and tribunals, illegal administrative detention, killings, use of pellet-firing shotguns, arbitrary arrests and detention (including of children), torture, enforced disappearances, restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and on journalists, using rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.
While talking to the British delegation, President Masood Khan welcomed the statement of the newly appointed Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, for emphasising the need for following up on her predecessor’s report on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir, with meaningful improvements, or even open and serious discussions on how the grave issues raised could be addressed by India.
Addressing the 39th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, High Commissioner Bachelet said: “The people of Kashmir have exactly the same rights to justice and dignity as people all over the world, and we urge the authorities to respect them”, and underlined that the Office of the High Commissioner continues to request to visit both sides of the LoC and in the meanwhile will continue its monitoring and reporting of the situation in IOK.
President Masood Khan rejected Indian allegations of cross-Line of Control (LoC) infiltration. He said that India had installed a high-tech surveillance system along the LoC which had laser activated fences and technology enabled barriers, that had made any kind of crossings impossible. In any case, the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan strongly believe in a diplomatic and political solution to the Kashmir dispute and had urged India to stop using state-terrorism to suppress the Kashmiris’ peaceful movement for the realisation of their right to self-determination.
President Masood Khan thanked MP Chris Leslie and his team for organizing various testimonies under the auspices of the APPKG on the human rights violations being perpetrated by the Indian forces in the occupied territory. The President said that he gave his testimony to the APPKG on 28 February 2018.
The President especially appreciated the report’s sharp focus on the draconian laws – Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA) – as well as enforced disappearances in the occupied territory.
These black laws, the President said, arm occupation forces to kill, use excessive force and detain persons with impunity and without the fear of prosecution. “These laws must be repealed”, he said.
MP Chris Leslie during the interaction thanked the President for inviting him to AJK and informing him on the recent developments in Indian Occupied Kashmir. He said that this visit would help the APKKG in better understanding the issue of Kashmir and would contribute in gathering facts for the report being compiled. He hoped that India would also reciprocate to their requests for visiting IOK.
As Chairperson of the Friends of Kashmir in the European Parliament, Ms. Anthea McIntyre said that Kashmir is not a concern for Pakistan and India but the whole world must be involved in the resolution of this issue. She informed that the EU Parliament will be organising an international conference on Kashmir where speakers from all over the world will speak on the situation in IOK. Ms. Anthea is also steering a human rights report on Kashmir in the EU Parliament, which she informed will be submitted by next year.
MP Imran Hussain also invited the President on the day of the report being submitted in the parliament. Lord Qurban said that human rights violations must be brought to an end and a certain level of normalcy is essential before efforts are made for the resolution of the Kashmir issue through a plebiscite.
The President in his concluding remarks commended the APPKG for their commitment and determination in raising the issue of Kashmir. He urged the British MPs to help raise the issue with the British Prime Minister during the question answer session in the parliament. He said that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, UK must ask for the circulation of reports compiled by the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) amongst Security Council members.