By News Desk
UNITED NATIONS, GENEVA—If holding a plebiscite across the entire state of Jammu & Kashmir is a problem, the United Nations could instead go for holding regional plebiscites, which means UN-supervised referendums in each region of the state, British expert and historian Victoria Schofield told an international panel during the 35th session of Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Schofield, the author of several books and papers on Kashmir conflict, told diplomats and rights defenders that Kashmir dispute has been resolved, and that it is the implementation of the solution on a UN-supervised referendum that is awaited. Politics and logistics contributed to the delay in holding the plebiscite, but this can be resolved, she said. One idea that she floated to ensure plebiscite implementation is for the UN to hold the plebiscite in every region of Kashmir separately instead of one, big exercise.
Holding a UN-supervised plebiscite is a key requirement under UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSC) on Kashmir conflict.
Schofield spoke at a major sideline event at UN Geneva. She was joined by activists from Indian-occupied Kashmir, Palestine and Western Sahara, and UN’s independent expert on the promotion of equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas. Senior APHC leader Altaf Hussain Wani moderated the event, and Sardar Amjad Youssef Khan, Executive Director, Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR) was a keynote speaker.
Three international NGOs with special status at the UN organized the event: World Muslim Congress (WMC), the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations (IIFSO), and International Muslim Women’s Union (IMWU).
Schofield defended Kashmiri people against Indian accusations that they are violent. After seven decades of Indian military occupation of Kashmir, she said Kashmiris have become “hard, but not harmful.” Kashmiris, she said, are working for self-determination since 1931, which means sixteen years before India invaded and occupied the territory in 1947. She compared life in Kashmir under Indian army curfews to the life in cities in Europe to highlight daily Kashmiri misery.
UN Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas said the United Nations has a duty toward India, Pakistan, and Kashmiris to get UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions on Kashmir Conflict implemented. Referring to states that became independent without shedding bled after the fall of Soviet Union, de Zayas wondered why Kashmir freedom is taking time despite so many sacrifices in lives.
Sardar Amjad Youssef explained the multiple ways in which the international community could benefit from resolving Kashmir conflict. The world must invest in Kashmir peace, he told the panelists.
The eight-member Kashmir Delegation for UNHRC’s 35th session consists of Altaf Hussain Wani-Delegation leader and senior Kashmir freedom leader, senior APHC leaders-Syed Faiz Naqshbandi, Hassan al-Banna and Advocate Pervaiz Shah, Sardar Amjad Youssef Khan-Executive Director Kashmir Institute Of International Relations (KIIR), senior woman Kashmiri leader Mrs. Shamim Shawl, Ahmed Quraishi-Executive Director YFK–International Kashmir Lobby Group and Prof. Shagufta Ashraf-Human Rights Defender working with women & children.
YFK–International Kashmir Lobby Group (Youth Forum For Kashmir) is Pakistan’s first pro-Kashmir, registered and nonpartisan International lobbying group led by young Kashmiris and Pakistanis working to ensure justice to Kashmiris living under Indian-military occupation.