“Human Rights Violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK)”
Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad
September 3, 2018
“What will change the world opinion on the Kashmir issue is to get it on the agenda, not just of the United Nations’ but the world over.” This was stated by former Australian Senator Lee Rhiannon during her address at her Public Talk on “Human Rights Violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK)”, organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) today under its Distinguished Lecture Series.
Ms. Rhiannon stated that it is imperative to build a united global voice for justice for the people of Kashmir. She said that back home in Australia, most people are not even cognizant of the Kashmir issue. Even though the Australian Government and lobbyists are active on a number of issues, on the topic of Kashmir, their participation is zero. Where there is awareness, the Indian narrative is dominant. She accentuated the indispensability of the latest UN Human Rights report on Kashmir calling it invaluable and said that the report gives a clear direction as to what the future steps should be. The Senator said that there is a dire need to voice Kashmiri concerns and simultaneously collaborate with different countries on the issue of providing self-determination to the Kashmiris. In essence, the primary objective should be to ensure that the Kashmir issue is seen as a global issue so that it becomes everyone’s responsibility and not put on the backburner as a bilateral issue.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry spoke about how for any democratic society, human rights are very crucial and with every passing year their importance is growing. The European experience of war and conflict showcases that human dignity is at the center of all human endeavor – the United Nations was the culmination of that struggle. Very few people recognize that while the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came into existence in 1948, fourteen centuries earlier Prophet Mohammad (SAW) in his last sermon had spoken and stressed on human dignity. Religious sentiment aside, what has given Pakistan further impetus to work on human rights is the situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir where the Kashmiris have been seeking justice for decades he said. The Ambassador went on to highlight Pakistan’s active participation in the human rights arena and said that a large number of agreements have been signed in this regard.
Chairman BOG ISSI, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, in his concluding remarks said that the right of self-determination is one of the fundamental human rights. While the Kashmir issue does have political dimensions, it is primarily a question of human rights. The cause of the Kashmiris is not getting the traction it deserves despite the Kashmiris struggles. The people of Kashmir need the support of the international community. Lack of adequate interest and short sighted economic and geopolitical interest are some of the factors which are holding back big powers from intervening. However, with the advent of the UN Human Rights report on Kashmir, things seem to be changing for the better, he concluded.