Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has said that the international community, especially the United Nations must take cognizance of the grave human rights violations taking place in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.
The President made these remarks while interacting with a British delegation from Rochdale, led by Tony Lloyd, Member UK Parliament. The delegation also comprised of Councillor Muhammad Zaman, Mayor of Rochdale; Mr. Allen Brett, Leader of the Rochdale Council; Councillor Aasim Rashid, Chair of Pakistani and Kashmiri Councillors Forum North of England; Councillor Sultan Ali, former Mayor of Rochdale; Mrs. Razia Shamim OBE; and Honorable Alderman Mushtaq Lasharie CBE; Chairman Third World Solidarity.
During the interaction, the President informed the delegation of the grave human rights violations taking place in IOK. He said that innocent Kashmiris are being killed, incarcerated and maimed, simply because they demand their right to self-determination as guaranteed under international law and the United Nations Security Council Resolutions passed in the late 1940s’ and early 1950s’. President AJK also strongly condemned Indian moves to change the demography of IOK which he said were in violation of international law and conventions.
The President said that the international community has broken its silence on the human rights situation in IOK, and highlighted the recently released report by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHRC). He said that a similar report is also being compiled by the British Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG) under the able leadership of MP Chris Leslie, which also organized numerous hearings on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The APPKG report, he said will be soon be presented in the British Parliament. Similarly, he said, the European Parliament will soon finalize its report n the situation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir, which will be presented in the EU Parliament in the January 2019. He termed these reports a major achievement and said that it would help give an impartial insight into the atrocities taking place in IOK.
Highlighting the three recommendations of the OCHRC report, the President said that people of Kashmir must be allowed to exercise their right to self-determination; India must repeal its two draconian laws – Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act – which have granted absolute immunity to the Indian occupation forces from any sort of prosecution; and the Human Rights Council must establish a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive international investigation into human rights violations in IOK.
President Masood Khan urged the United Nations to take cognisance of the atrocities taking place in IOK and also welcomed the statement of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who expressed his concern on the situation in IOK. He commended the newly appointed UN High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, for voicing her concerns about the continuing human rights situation in IOK, and affirming her intent to follow up on her predecessor’s report with further “monitoring and reporting”.
He appealed to the delegation to encourage British parliamentarians in raising the issue in the UK Parliament and also presenting the matter during the question-hour of the British Prime Minister regularly held in the parliament. He urged them to organize events on Kashmir on the sidelines of the parliamentary sessions.
MP Tony Lloyd while expressing his views said that Rochdale is home to a large Pakistani-Kashmiri diaspora who actively raise the issue with its parliamentary representatives. He said that every passing day the situation in IOK is deteriorating and is a major concern for us. He also expressed his concern on the lack of international attention to this long-standing issue and the worsening human rights situation. He insisted that stopping the human rights violations and ascertaining the right to self-determination of the people of Kashmir is central to the peaceful resolution of this conflict.
In a joint press conference held after the meeting, the President thanked Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Pakistan for effectively representing the people of Pakistan and Kashmir by highlighting the Kashmir issue in a resolute and dynamic manner. The President in the strongest words condemned the cowardly fire carried out by the Indian forces on the civilian helicopter carrying Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and member of his Cabinet near the Line of Control. He said that India has resorted to such tactics in an attempt to raise tensions along the LoC. He said that in a similar move, Indians continue to violate the 2003 Ceasefire Agreement and target innocent civilians, their homes, schools and also their livestock.
The President also briefed the media on his recent statement delivered at Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s meeting of the Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir and the Annual Coordination Meeting attended by Foreign Ministers of member countries held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.
President Masood Khan said that UK is a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and can, therefore, play a pivotal role in highlighting the issue in the Security Council. He said that the United National Military Observer Group in India send their reports on the situation along the LoC to the UNSC, and UK must ask for these reports to be submitted to the Secretary General and circulated among the members of the UNSC. UNMOGIp, he said has always been facilitated by the Government of AJK and Pakistan in carrying out their responsibilities, but on the other hand, India has always sabotaged the working of UNMOGIP, denying them access to the LoC.
MP Tony Lloyd told the media that the worsening situation in IOK needs immediate. He asserted that there is no military solution to the issue and New Delhi will have to realise that resolution of this long-standing issue is possible through peaceful means, dialogue and by allowing the people of Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination. He said the Kashmir is not just an issue between Pakistan and India, rather its a matter of concern for the whole world.
Councillor Aasim Rashid thanked the President, the Government AJK and Pakistan for actively taking up the issue at all international forums. He said that prosperity and stability in the region depend entirely on the resolution of the Kashmir issue. He assured that the diaspora community will continue to create awareness on the issue and especially the human rights violations taking place in IOK.
The President while answering a question said that Pakistan and the people of AJK look forward to a peaceful resolution of the issue through talks and the implementation of the UNSC Resolutions. He demanded India to release the political leadership of Kashmir, including Shabbir Shah, Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Aasiya Andrabi. He also demanded the release of thousands of political workers and activists who have been illegally incarcerated in jails all over India.