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Kashmir remainsthe oldest unresolved dispute on UN agenda

Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of the partition of subcontinent. It remains one of the oldest unresolved disputes on the agenda of the UN Security Council. It is an internationally recognized dispute as affirmed by numerous UNSC resolutions since 1948. These UN resolutions uphold the fundamental right of the Kashmiri people to decide their own future through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. However, by refusing to implement the UNSC resolutions, India remains in consistent breach of its obligations under Article 25 of the UN Charter that stipulates that “The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council”.

Over the past seven decades, successive Indian governments have subjected the people of Kashmir to worst forms of state-terrorism. Today, the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir is the world’s most heavily militarized zone, which has in fact been turned into the world’s largest prison – where people are not allowed to speak freely. Kashmiri leaders, youth, journalists, civil society and human rights defenders are jailed and silenced.

The entire APHC leadership, including Muhammad Yasin Malik, MassaratAalam Bhat, Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and Aasiya Andrabi, is also in jail in fabricated cases. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also remains under house arrest and is continuously denied access to go to the Jamia Masjid to deliver the Friday sermon.Besides incarceration, there are also cases of inhuman custodial deaths of Hurriyat leader Altaf Ahmed Shah recently and Ashraf Sehrai last year.

Worryingly, IIOJK continues to be strangled economically, facing the brunt of Indian occupation forces ‘economic terrorism’. While the region has a stark unemployment rate, its farmers are faced with prolonged and forced road blockades by the occupation forces, exposing them to risks of their produce going rotten. This is a deliberate attempt to destroy the region’s economy.

India has stepped up its repression of the Kashmiris since its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 to colonise the entire Kashmir region and deprive its people of their economic, political and land rights by changing the demography of the IIOJK. In order to suppress the Kashmiris, India has resorted to a blatant use of state-terrorism, extra-judicial killings, fake encounters, cordon-and-search operations, custodial torture, enforced disappearance, use of pellet guns and destruction of properties.

These gruesome acts are well-documented by the UN and international human rights organizations, including a recent report by Amnesty International and earlier reports of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released in 2018 and 2019. These reports substantiate Pakistan’s serious concerns over the human rights impacts of India’s illegal and unilateral measures in the occupied territory, which have been abetted by inhuman military siege, draconian laws such as PSA, UAPA, and Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the state sanctioned impunity in IIOJK – all in a bid to change the demographic composition of the occupied territory.

The report by Amnesty International is also comprehensive in nature as it objectively highlights India’s incessant and purposive failure to uphold the fundamental rights of the Kashmiris and its malfeasant use of national security as an alibi to justify its widespread and systematic campaign of state terrorism in the occupied territory.The Amnesty International’s report renews earlier calls made to India by the UN Office for Human Rights and other independent international voices to provide unhindered access to the occupied territory for independent investigations into the extent of its systematic oppression in IIOJK.

On its own, the UN leadership has repeatedly expressed its concerns “over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir, which could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region.” Several UN Special Rapporteurs have termed the overall human rights situation in IIOJK in a “free fall” and categorized the military siege as “a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence”

There is now a discernible uptick in the India’s international scrutiny and censure for its violations of human rights in the IIOJK. Three deliberations on Kashmir by UN Security Council since 5 August, 2019 have been held. Statements have been made by the UN leadership reaffirming UN position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Debates in world Parliaments including those of EU, US, UK, Sweden and Portugal have been held. Recently, German Foreign Minister AnnalenaBaerbockalso said that Germany and the international community had a role to play in Kashmir and called for an intensive engagement of the United Nations in finding a peaceful resolution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Earlier in September, US Ambassador to Pakistan David Blome visited Azad Jammu & Kashmir in September 2022.

The dream of stability and peace in South Asia and the world at large will remain elusive until the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is resolved in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and aspirations of Kashmiris. It has serious implications for the peace and security of the region. I think it needs to be understood that since this dispute is an international dispute and is on the agenda of the UN Security Council itself, it is the direct responsibility of the UN and the Security Council and particularly its five permanent members to make sincere and concerted efforts to resolve this dispute. It is time for them to act. Pressure needs to be built upon India to have the Security Council resolutions implemented which provide for the right to self- determination of the Kashmiri people.

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