World must end criminal silence over IoK situation

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ISLAMABAD: India is using intimidation and coercion as weapons of state in occupied Kashmir. It is now the moral duty of the UNSC and international community to end their criminal silence and stop India from pursuing its hegemonic designs, which have escalated after it abrogated Article 370 on August 5.
The call was made by Raja Farooq Haider, Prime Minister, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K), while addressing an international seminar titled ‘Kashmir: The Issue, Global Scenario and Policy Imperatives’ which was organized by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad, in collaboration with Policy Research Forum, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (PRFAJK) and Maritime Study Forum (MSF).
Chaired by former senator Javed Jabbar, the event was also addressed by national and international speakers of high stature including Syed Fakhar Imam, chairman, Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, Khalid Rahman, executive president, IPS, Professor Dr Roger van Zwanenberg, a veteran scholar of history and political economy based in London, Professor Dr Yashpal Amarchand Tandon, a Ugandian-British policymaker of Indian descent, Dr Akis Kalaitzidis, professor of political science at the Department of Government, International Studies and Languages, University of Central Missouri, USA, Prof Dr Halil Toker, Istanbul University, Syed Iftikhar Gilani, a senior journalist from Indian Occupied Kashmir, now based in Ankara, Dr Asma Shakir Khwaja, associate professor, National Defence University (NDU), Prof Dr Nazir Hussain, director, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Prof Dr Fazl ul Hadi Wazeen, an academic and politician based in Kabul, Dr Syed Muhammad Anwer, former deputy attorney general of Pakistan and president MSF, Air Cdr (r) Khalid Iqbal, senior security analyst and member IPS National Academic Council, and Farzana Yaqoob, IPS associate and a former member, Legislative Assembly of AJ&K.
Haider, in his keynote speech, said that over 100 days have passed since India laid siege to occupied Kashmir, imposed curfew, and violated UN resolutions as well as all international and national agreements in the process. During this period, the Indian army has arrested thousands of citizens, including Kashmiri leaders, and meted out inhuman treatment to the youth of Kashmir under the garb of so-called house searches. There have been severe human rights violations in IoK and widespread incidents of brutal torture, rape, mass killings, forced disappearances, use of pellet guns and human shields have been reported; and sadly all this has been carried out as the occupying state’s policy with all its institutions – including legislature, executive, judiciary and armed forces – forming a part of it.
He said that on one the hand there is a crippling clampdown on communication in a place where journalists are protesting for their right to speak, whereas on the other the Indian media is mastering the art of biased and fake reporting, trying to paint a false picture of normalcy in IoK.
Along with human rights violations, the economic loss of the state has been catastrophic and is leading to severe humanitarian crisis. According to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the economic losses ran into least 100 billion rupees ($1.40 billion) by September, he added.
Haider maintained that the provisional arrangements that India had made through Articles 35-A and 370 were just eyewash and now their revocation has been done only to pave the way to change demography in the held territory, which is not only a violation of international law and the UN resolutions, but is also considered a war crime under Geneva Convention. The fact that India had to use its reinforced might in the territory even after occupying it for over 70 years is proof enough that the region seeks a different solution. This is not the first time that the determination of Kashmiris has been put to the test, their unwavering and unfailing spirit however has always remained firm, authenticating that their right of self-determination must be recognized.
The onus, according to Haider, was now on the UN Security Council to stop treating Kashmir as an orphan of a global family and set up an international commission of inquiry to examine the real situation prevailing in the held territory. If the international community fails to resolve the Kashmir issue through peaceful political means and in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people through immediate and fair plebiscite, the possibility of Kashmiri people having to opt for undesired means cannot be ruled out, he stressed.
The AJ&K premier also urged Pakistan to make use of efficient diplomacy for the Kashmir cause, maintaining that it is majorly a handful of countries to which we should deliver our message across in a bid to raise international awareness over the issue.
Jabbar stated that Pakistan today is the sole custodian of Kashmir cause as a nation state and for that purpose, we need to create solidarity not only within our ranks but the rest of the world as well. With 8 million people locked up for over 100 days, there is surely so much to be done. We need to get our message across to those states around the world which believe in democracy and that can be done through reinforced diplomatic strategy and by investing in media.
The other national and international experts present on the occasion also highlighted the importance of Kashmir for peace and stability in the subcontinent and encapsulated repercussions of the Kashmir standoff, if not addressed early. The speakers said that scholars, media and civil society have an important role to play in the resolution of this issue as the prevailing situation is not in the benefit for any country in the region. The experts also urged Pakistan to start generating an academic discourse over the issue while firmly backing Kashmir policies.