Kashmir conflict: International Community Needs to Act

Iqbal Khan

Pakistan has globally raised the issue of Indian atrocities and the human rights’ situation in IOJ&K since 5 August. The international response, so far, has not been adequate enough to even revert the draconian measures undertaken by India, what to talk of putting India on notice for giving right of self-determination to Kashmiri people.  This is not just Pakistan’s concern but of all those who believe in the rule of law and human rights.

Following the unilateral illegal action by India on August 05, 2019 leading to one-sided annexation of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), Pakistan has extensively shared its concerns and fears with international organizations. Pakistan has amplified the voice of the suffering Kashmiri people and raised the conscience of the international community to the atrocities perpetrated by the India government.

Since August 05, Foreign Minister has written seven letters to the President of the United Nations General Assembly, the Security Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, keeping them updated on the evolving situation in IOJ&K.  In September 2019, in his address to the UNGA, Prime Minister Imran Khan extensively highlighted the Jammu & Kashmir issue and the danger its non-resolution presented to regional as well as global peace and security.

Pakistan has raised awareness of Hindutva driven policies of the present government in India. These efforts have helped in placing the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in the centre of international discourse. Subsequent acti-ons taken by the Modi government related to Citizens-hip Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens have vindicated Pakistan’s position internationally. .

Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) has consistently supported Pakistan on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Two meetings of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir have been convened since August 05. An emergency session of the OIC Contact group on Jammu & Kashmir was called on Pakistan’s request on 6th August, 2019 as a result of which the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) had delivered a strong statement condemning India’s atrocities in IOJ&K. Second meeting was held in New York on the side-lines of the 42nd UNGA session which issued a strong Ministerial Communiqué. IPHRC has recently held an unprecedented public session on human rights situation in IOJ&K. A special session of OIC Foreign Ministers’ is a work in progress.

Pakistan also presented its case in the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Joint statement on Jammu &Kashmir was delivered on behalf of over 50 countries on 10th September, 2019. Humanitarian nightmare in IOJ&K, characterized by a continued military lockdown and complete communication blackout, is approaching the mark of 180 days. On the side-lines of the Global Ref-ugee Forum, Prime Minister Imran Khan met Ms. Mich-elleBachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and briefed her on the devastating impact of India’s over 4-months long inhuman lockdown..

Two successive public hearings on human rights situation in IOJ&K were held in the US Congress. The Tom Lantos Congressional Committee on Human Rights undertook detailed debate on the situation in November 2019. Two draft resolutions have been tabled by the US House of Representatives. So far, over 80 members of US Congress have issued statements expressing concerns over the situation in IOJ&K. Kashmir issue was raised in other Parliaments as well, including UK, EU, France, Iran and so on.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the US DrAsad M. Khan’s in his January 02 Op-ed in The Hill, captioned as “The US should work to counter India’s actions against the people of Kashmir”, has commented about prolonged humanitarian crisis in Indian Occupied Kashmir. “As Americans everywhere celebrated the holidays, India’s lockdown and military siege of Occupied-Kashmir will have been going on for nearly 150 days. Since its beginning on Aug. 5, when India rev-oked the region’s special autonomous status, the siege has had devastating effects on Kashmiris”. A recent article by Reuters reveals that the lock-down has cost Kash-mir’s economy more than $2.4 billion, with the head of the Kashmir’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry war-ning that “this crisis will further intensify in 2020.” a recent New York Times piece notes that “India tops the world— by far— in the number of internet shutdowns im-posed by local, state and n-ational governments.” Anot-her subsequent editorial by the Washington Post asked “… how long a country that follows this sinister path can truly be called a democracy at all?”

However, despite widespread criticism from global human rights groups, editorial boards, and within the Congress, some in the US may still believe that India is a good faith, credible actor when it comes to Kashmir, and that Kashmir is an “internal” matter for India to handle. EU is also of the view that revocation of Article 370 was an internal matter of India. Any faith in India’s credibility as a force for good in Kashmir is misplaced. India’s credibility on Kashmir went out of the window when it decided to unilaterally abrogate the rights of millions of Muslim Kashmiris, ignored f international law, poured hundreds of thousands of regular troops into the region, and then thumb its nose at the near universal international condemnation that followed.

Kashmir has been the subject of tens of UN Security Council resolutions, specifically stating that Kashmir issue needs to be resolved through a plebiscite under UN auspices. India’s disregard for universal human rights and shameful humanitarian crisis that it has set off in Kashmir are reasons enough for the whole world to be involved in ending this tragedy. Pakistan will continue to extend moral political and diplomatic support to be the voice of Kashmiris at every forum.