Seminar on “International Community Awakens to Human Rights Violations in IOK” Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad July 31, 2018
“Pakistan is incomplete without Kashmir. If Pakistan is stronger, we will have a guaranteed success for the rights of self determination of the Kashmiris”. This was stated by Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir during his address as the Keynote Speaker at a Seminar titled “UN Report: International Community Awakens to Human Rights Violations in IOK” organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) today.
Other speakers at the seminar included: Ambassador Riaz Khokhar, Former Foreign Secretary; Mr. Ahmad Qureshi, Executive Director YFK-International Kashmir Lobby Group and Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad, Additional Secretary (Asia Pacific), Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Sardar Masood Khan thanked Zeid Raad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for the issuance of the report on the situation of human rights in Kashmir saying that it was a herculean task to get it published. He also thanked the UN for breaking its pattern of silence on Kashmir and owning the report as a neutral body, which is a merit to it. He said that the Indian forces are engaging in nothing short of ethnic genocide, premised on two logics: logic of the occupier and logic of the colonial occupier. Yet, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have sent a clear message that they will not accept India’s illegitimate writ or rule.
President Masood urged the Pakistani civil society to reach out to its Indian counterpart and engage with them. He also said that while India has a strong lobby in Pakistan, but the sad fact is that Pakistan does not have a strong countervailing lobby in India. This needs to be rectified. Peace tables also need to be set up in Pakistan, India, and New York in order to get the dialogue on Kashmir between Pakistan and India going. He went on to say that the International Community has always played by real politic and has engaged in commerce before conscious. The UN has been too cautious and has always tried to create this artificial balance between India and Pakistan. In doing so, Kashmir disappears off the radar. Hence, the UN should side with victims. Morals and values should guide its judgment rather than real politic, he said
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry spoke about how the Kashmir cause has always been central to Pakistan’s foreign policy. He said that successive Indian governments have refused to listen to the voices of reason. Instead, India is engaged in forceful subjugation, which has created a grave humanitarian condition and this report is a forbidding reminder of the grimness of the situation. Nevertheless, the blatant use of force has failed to break the resolve of Kashmiris as demonstrated by the current wave of protests since 2016, and this report showcases that finally the conscious of international community is waking up.
Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad alluded to the report as a major diplomatic breakthrough and said it is a reaffirmation of what Pakistan has long highlighted in front of the international community. He also said that the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been working to ensure adequate highlighting of the report. He called upon the world body to urge India for an immediate halt to the bloodshed and for an independent and comprehensive investigation into human rights violations, the brutality against innocent Kashmiris, as well as lack of access to justice for the victims by the Indian occupying forces.
Mr. Ahmad Qureshi applauded the comprehensiveness of the report and said that despite being criticized along with India, Pakistan’s magnanimous response is laudable. For India to compound a political problem and turn it into a humanitarian crisis is problematic, he said. Pakistan has always given unfettered access to all investigative international bodies and has been the clearest advocate for Kashmiri freedom. Even though in the process Pakistan has paid a heavy price, it will continue the struggle to raise its voice against the oppression of the Kashmiri people.
Ambassador Riaz Khokhar said that after 70 years of struggle, a stronger commitment was required from Pakistani political leadership – a responsibility that rests on all the political parties. He also highlighted the role that the media can play to keep the Kashmir issue alive and the importance of mobilizing the Kashmiri diaspora. It is high time that the Kashmir issue be brought forth from the backburner it has been on for quite some time, he said.
Chairman ISSI, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, in his concluding remarks said that the frustration of the people of Kashmir have found expression in their legitimate struggle. India’s response has been barbaric. What is new in the resistance struggle, is that the massive violations of human rights in Kashmir have been acknowledged by the UN and this report is not merely an accusation emanating from Pakistan, but a report compiled objectively by a neutral body, something India should take note of. He said that narrow strategic ambitions have trumped for too long. The international community should find a sustainable solution to this issue. Not doing so will be highly irresponsible as it would instigate a war between two nuclear powers.