By News Desk
United Nations, New York, September 23, 2017. Hundreds of Kashmiri Americans held a huge rally in front of the United Nations during the speech of the Indian Delegate to its General Assembly. Raising slogans of: “India: Honor UN Pledges” “Freedom for all, Freedom for Kashmir” Indian Forces: Out of Kashmir” “Time to Resolve Kashmir Dispute Now” “Kashmir: The Nuclear Flashpoint” “No Justice, No Peace”, they demanded United Nations — assured right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary general of World Kashmir Awareness Forum responded to the mantra of Ms. Sushma Suraj, the foreign minister of India when she said: “He (the prime minister of Pakistan) has forgotten that under the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration India and Pakistan resolved that they would settle, all outstanding issues bilaterally.” Dr. Fai said, “Sushma Suraj ji seeks to propagate the impression that The UN resolutions have been superseded by the Simla Agreement. That implication is false and it can be readily seen from a comparison of the two texts (UN resolutions & Simla Agreement). But even if it were true, it would run counter to a standing principle of international relations which is set out in Article 103 of the Charter of the United Nations (accepted by every Member of the United Nations, including India). The Article says: “In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail”
“Despite this circumstance, Fai added, the Simla Agreement nowhere precludes a settlement of the Kashmir dispute along the lines laid down by the United Nations with the consent of both India and Pakistan. Nor does it require that the United Nations be by-passed in the effort towards a settlement. On the contrary, it expressly says that the relations between the two countries shall be governed by the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations. One of the basic principles of the Charter (Article 33) is to seek a solution of any dispute by negotiation, enquiry, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements or other peaceful means. The Agreement thus reinforces the obligations of both parties to achieve a settlement in accordance with the resolutions endorsed by the Security Council and, if their bilateral efforts fail, to turn to the United Nations for assistance. Nothing would be more contrary to the Charter — and, therefore, to the Simla Agreement itself — than to bar recourse to the United Nations.”
Syed Ali Geelani, Chairman, All Parties Hurriyet Conference, in his message said that the United Nations despite being aware about the disappointing, dismal and shameful track record of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir has failed to impress upon India to reign in its trigger-happy soldiers and stop killings in the state. Custodial killing, enforced disappearances and rape as a weapon of war are the hallmarks of Indian occupational forces in Kashmir. Notwithstanding India not allowing the fact-finding mission of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to have access to the situation in Kashmir, India cannot be and should not be allowed to imperil global peace. In the given situation in the region, it is your bounden duty to take de-novo cognizance of Kashmir immediately as tensions center on the India-Pakistan border, otherwise the august body shall be failing in its obligations under the Charter.
Mohammad Yasin Malik, Chairman, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front in his message said that people without the discrimination of age and gender have been locked up in jails and police stations and all this is being done in the name of so-called democracy and raising the bogey of law and order. Kashmiris on daily basis are being humiliated, destroyed, incarcerated, tortured, blinded, and demonized. This is being done with total impunity. He said all this oppression is being done to suppress the voices of Kashmiris who are seeking freedom from illegal military occupation of India. Mr. Malik warned that a nation that has been facing military and police wrath of Indian occupation from last 70 years cannot be intimidated by jails, and other acts of state sponsored aggression as tyrannical acts like these only strengthen the resolve of people seeking freedom from oppression. He appealed to the Secretary General that the gruesome status quo in Kashmir is both legally and morally unacceptable and militarily and economically frightening. There is no time for further complacency.
Barrister Sultan Mehmood Choudhary, former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir said that global experts of the international relations have correctly characterized the unflagging freedom struggle in Kashmir from foreign occupying powers as harrowing because of the nuclear capabilities of India and Pakistan. Barrister Sultan declared that, “since its nationhood secured on August 15, 1947, Kashmir has been despoiled, defiled, and devastated by foreign military troops and denied its fundamental right of self‑determination. The nuclear danger in South Asia will never recede until Kashmiris receive the justice and political liberty promised by the series of United Nations Security Council resolutions providing for a free and fair self‑ determination vote.”
Mr. Ishtiyaq Hameed, Representative, All Parties Hurriyet Conference said “All our basic rights and civil liberties have been snatched by Indian forces. There is no freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Peaceful protests are responded to by brute force. Bullets and pellets are indiscriminately used against the peaceful protestors. Humiliation, harassment, torture at the hands of the Indian forces, is an everyday feature of life of a Kashmiri. The Indian forces are present in every nook and corner, thus turning Jammu & Kashmir into a virtual prison. Kashmir once called a paradise on Earth has become a place of misery, sorrow, death and destruction.”
Dr. A. R Meer (Baramulla) said that the people of Kashmir believe that the time has come that the Secretary General of the United Nations use his good office to: let India and Pakistan know that if talks between these two countries are to mean anything, they must be accompanied by practical measures to restore an environment of non-violence, free from state sponsored terrorism
Saleem Qadri (Srinagar) said that Kashmir has been plagued by conflict since 1947 for a simple reason: the denial of self-determination that has been enjoyed by countless other peoples in comparable circumstances, most recently in East Timor, Eritrea, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro and Southern Sudan.
Sardar Taj Khan cited the example of the widespread human rights violations by the Indian military and para-military forces in the disputed territory of Jammu & Kashmir. He reiterated that since, 1990, the Indian forces have been engaged in a sustained campaign of slaughter, rape, arson and destruction. This state terrorism has resulted in more than 100,000 deaths.
Sardar Imtiaz Khan Garalavi said the cause of Kashmir’s chilling strife and turbulence is the denial of self-determination. Acceding to self-determination is the answer to Kashmir’s agony. That acceptance would also relieve India of the multiple national security and economic adversities spawned by its denial of self-determination.
Saleem Butt, former minister of Azad Kashmir cabinet endorsed the statement of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights who expressed serious concern about the situation in Kashmir and proposed on September 13, 2016 that ‘an independent, impartial and international mission is now needed crucially and that it should be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides.’
Dr. Asif Luqman stressed that the Kashmir powder keg cannot be left to bilateral negotiations between India and Pakistan, a formula that has proven sterile for more than 70 years.
Sardar Tahir Iqbal warned that until there evolves a generally accepted moral duty among peoples and nations to assist all victims of widespread human rights violations by force or other stiff retaliation, the United Nations mechanism will operate haphazardly and whimsically for reasons unrelated to the harm to the victims. It is the job of the United Nations to jump-start that moral evolution based on universal principles. Kashmir is an example that fits like a glove.
Raja Liaqat Kiyani suggested, “What is needed to resolve the long standing issue of Kashmir is outside mediation and an equal partnership negotiating role for the people for Kashmir represented by the All‑Parties Hurriyet Conference. That approach cut the Gordian knot in Northern Ireland, and it would seem equally promising if applied in Kashmir.”
Ms. Noreen Talaat from Virginia said that the 70-year-old conflict is fueled by shocking human rights abuses perpetrated by 700,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces, and the denial of a self-determination plebiscite conducted by the United Nations for 20 million Kashmiris that the United Nations Security Council has prescribed and Secretary Albright’s own father championed as a diplomat at the United Nations.
Ms. Amina Taj Khan said that the situation in Kashmir is continuously deteriorating day by day. Hundreds of persons including teenagers were killed, more than 20,000 injured within the past year alone. More than 800 civilians, including children and women have been blinded due to the pellet guns used by the Indian army.
Sardar Zulfiqar Roshan Khan pleaded with India to recognize that its iron‑fisted policy in Kashmir has yielded 100,000 death and incalculable suffering and squandering of resources all in the name of an unjust cause: dishonoring its obligation to assist in the conduct of a free and fair plebiscite in Kashmir under United Nations auspices as prescribed by sister Security Council resolutions that were championed, fashioned, and accepted by India herself.
Sardar Zubair Khan said that the people of Kashmir who have never lost hope in the United Nations have since that date sought to freely exercise their right to self-determination. This denial of the United Nation Charter and thus the denial of the right of self-determination pose a great threat to the international peace and security.
Sahibzada Imtiaz Zafar said that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Disturbed Areas Act in Kashmir empowered police to arrest and detain within sweeping bounds. Human rights organizations complained that the laws were tantamount to legal immunity for security forces. Accountability was thus a serious problem. Security forces have committed thousands of serious human rights violations since 1989, yet only a few hundred have been prosecuted and punished.
Sardar Sawar Khan, former advisor to the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir was the Master of Ceremony. He said that as a result of India’s reign of terror, Kashmir that was once considered a virtual paradise on earth has been reduced to a killing field. He thanked the attendees for making the event a success.
Others who spoke included:
Advocate Azeem Dutt,
Sardar Ali Anwar,
Choudhary Zahoor Akhtar,
Yasin Chohan (Chicago),
Sardar Aftab Shah,
Irfan Tassaduq Khan,
Sarabjit Singh and others.