The United Nations and the Neglected Conflict of Kashmir

By Ghulam Nabi Fai

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Washington D.C, October 08 (KMS): The principle of ‘right of self-determination’ and its applicability to the 72-year-old Kashmir conflict needs to be considered during the 75th session of the Fourth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly that is taking place between October 08 to November 10, 2020 at its headquarters in New York. The committee will discuss and deliberate the issues related to international conflicts and decolonization. What I do hope to offer is an unstarry-eyed view of the fate of self-determination in Kashmir; and, the indispensability of convincing the United Nations that international peace and security would be strengthened, not weakened, by resolving the Kashmir conflict to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.

The self-determination of peoples is a basic principle of the United Nations Charter, which has been reaffirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and applied countless times to the settlement of international disputes.

The concept seems to be as old as government itself and was the basis of French and American revolutions. In 1916, President Wilson stated that self-determination is not a mere phrase. He said that it is an imperative principle of action and included it in the famous 14-point charter. This gave a prominence to the principle. Self-determination as conceived by Wilson was an imprecise amalgamation of several strands of thought, some long associated in his mind with the notion of “self-determination”, others hatched as a result or wartime developments, but all imbued with a general spirit of democracy.

Self-determination is a principle that has been developed in philosophic thought and practice for the last several hundred years. It is an idea that has caused people throughout the world to rise up and shed the chains of oppressive governments at great risk.

Finally, in 1945 the establishment of the UN gave a new dimension to the principle of self-determination. It was made one of the objectives, which the UN would seek to achieve, along with equal rights of all nations. Article 1.2 of the Charter of the United Nations reads: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.”

From 1952 onwards, the General Assembly of the UN adopted a series of resolutions proclaiming the right to self-determination. The two most important of these are resolution 1514 of 14 December 1960 and resolution 2625 of 24 October 1970. Resolution 1514 was seen almost exclusively as part of process of decolonization. 1514 is entitled: Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

International Court of Justice considered the several resolutions on decolonization process and noted: “The subsequent development of International Law in regard to non-self governing territories as enshrined in the Charter of the UN made the principle of self-determination applicable to all of them.” This opinion establishes the self-determination as the basic principle for the process of decolonization.

The principle of self-determination in modern times can be defined as the right of peoples to determine their own political status and pursue their own economic, social and cultural policies. Self-determination in its literal meaning or at a terminological level also implies the right [of a people] to express itself to organize in whatever way it wants. A people must be free to express their will without interference or threat of interference from a controlling authority. This includes alien domination, foreign occupation and colonial rule.

Although, the applicability of the principle of the self-determination to the specific case of Jammu and Kashmir has been explicitly recognized by the United Nations, it was upheld equally by India and Pakistan when the Kashmir dispute was brought before the Security Council. Since, on the establishment of India and Pakistan as sovereign states, Jammu and Kashmir was not part of the territory of either, the two countries entered into an agreement to allow its people to exercise their right to self-determination under impartial auspices and in conditions free from coercion from either side. The agreement is embodied in the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, explicitly accepted by both governments. It is binding on both governments and no allegation of non-performance of any of its provisions by either side can render it inoperative.

It is apparent from the record of the Security Council that India articulated the principle, accepted the practical shape the Security Council gave to it and freely participated in negotiations regarding the modalities involved. However, when developments inside Jammu & Kashmir made it doubt its chances of winning the plebiscite, it changed its stand and pleaded that it was no longer bound by the agreement. Of course, it deployed ample arguments to justify the somersault. But even though the arguments were of a legal or quasi-legal nature, it rejected a reference to the World Court to pronounce on their merits. This is how the dispute became frozen with calamitous consequences for Kashmir most of all, with heavy cost for Pakistan and with none too happy results for India itself.

By all customary moral and legal yardsticks, 23 million Kashmiris from both sides of the Ceasefire Line (CFL) enjoy a right to self-determination. Kashmir’s legal history entitles it to self-determination from Indian domination every bit as much as Eritrea’s historical independence entitled it to self-determination from Ethiopian domination.

India’s gruesome human rights violations in Kashmir also militate in favor of self-determination every bit as much as Yugoslavia’s human rights violations and ethnic cleansing created a right to self-determination in Bosnia and Kosovo. Kashmir’s history of social and religious tranquility further bolsters its claim to self-determination every bit as much as East Timor’s history of domestic peace before Indonesia’s annexation in 1975 entitled it to self-determination in 1999.

If law and morality are overwhelmingly on the side of Kashmiri self-determination, then why has that quest been thwarted for 72 years? The answer is self-evident: the military might of India. India is too militarily powerful, including a nuclear arsenal, and too economically mesmerizing to expect the United States, the United Nations, NATO, or the European Union to intervene. The United States is reluctant to exert moral suasion or pressure to prod India because it covets more India’s alluring economic markets and collaboration in fighting global terrorism. Further, the size and wealth of the Indian lobby in the United States dwarfs the corresponding lobbies supporting Kashmir.

The world powers need to understand that there is no way the dispute can be settled once and for all except in harmony with the people’s will, and there is no way the people’s will can be ascertained except through an impartial vote. Secondly, there are no insuperable obstacles to the setting up of a plebiscite administration in Kashmir under the aegis of the United Nations. The world organization has proved its ability, even in the most forbidding circumstances, to institute an electoral process under its supervision and control and with the help of a neutral peace-keeping force. The striking example of this is Namibia, which was peacefully brought to independence after seven decades of occupation and control by South Africa; East Timor and Southern Sudan, which got independence only through the intervention of the United Nations. Thirdly, as Sir Owen Dixon, the United Nations Representative, envisaged seven decades ago, the plebiscite can be so regionalized that none of the different zones of the state will be forced to accept an outcome contrary to its wishes.

In conclusion, a sincere and serious effort towards a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute must squarely deal with the realities of the situation and fully respond to the people’s rights involved in it. Indeed, any process that ignores the wishes of the people of Kashmir and is designed to sidetrack the United Nations will not only prove to be an exercise in futility but can also cause incalculable human and political damage.

India using molestation, arrest of women as weapon of war in IOK

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Thousands of Kashmiri women martyred, 11,204 molested since 1989

Srinagar, June 19 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, India is using violence against Kashmiri women including arrest, harassment and rape and molestation as a weapon of war to suppress the Kashmiris’ ongoing struggle for securing their inalienable right to self-determination.

According to a Kashmir Media Service report compiled by Raies Ahmed Mir on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, today, said that Indian troops had molested 11,204 women since January 1989 till date. It said that brutal incidents of Kununposhpora mass rape and Shopian double rape and murder and rape and murder of Kathua minor girl were the glaring examples of Indian brutalities against women in the occupied territory.

The report said that Indian troops had molested around a hundred women during a siege and search operation in Kunanposhpora area of Kupwara district on the night of February 23 in 1991. It said that two women, 17-year-old Aasiya Jan and her 22-year-old sister-in-law Neelofar Jan, were abducted, raped and killed in custody by Indian men in uniform in May 2009. An eight-year-old girl, Aasifa Bano, a resident of Kathua district in Jammu region, was abducted, gang-raped and subsequently murdered by Indian police personnel and members of extremist Hindu organizations in January 2018, it added.

The report pointed out that thousands of women are among 95,630 Kashmiris, martyred by Indian military, paramilitary and police personnel since January 1989 till date. At least 672 women have been martyred by Indian troops since January 2001 alone.

The report maintained that the unabated Indian state terrorism had rendered 22,915 women widowed during the last thirty one years. It said that thousands of women lost their sons, husbands, fathers and brothers in the occupied territory who were subjected to custodial disappearance by Indian police and troops. As per the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, more than 8,000 Kashmiris went missing in custody during the past 31 years and their mothers, sisters and daughters continue to wait for their return, it added.

The report said that over a dozen Kashmiri women including resistance leaders Aasiya Andrabi, Fahmeeda Sofi and Naheeda Nasreen, as well as Hina Bashir Beig, Haseena Begum, Insha Tariq and a pregnant 27-year-old PhD Scholar of Jamia Millia New Delhi Safoora Zargar, were implicated in false cases and lodged in Indian jails.

The report further said that that hundreds of women and girls were also injured by the pellets fired by Indian troops while over hundred including 19-month-old Heeba Jan, 2-year-old Nusrat Jan, Tammana (11), Ulfat Hameed (17), Insha Mushtaq (18), Ifrah Shakoor (17), Shabroza Mir (16), Rafia Bano (31) and Shakeela Begum (35) were blinded in one or both eyes due to pellet injuries.

 

Hinduphobia, Paracetamol, Kashmir and Changed Labour Policy

Dr Syed Nazir Gilani

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Change is inevitable. The harbinger of change has to be smart, timely and on the lookout. This time around in the United Kingdom, there has been a change in Labour leadership and Sir Keir Rodney Starmer KCB PC QC, has replaced Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. He identifies himself as a socialist and defender of human rights everywhere. He has claimed in his letter to Hindu Forum Britain (HFB), “I have fought all my life against injustices and to defend human rights”. Be it so.

Muslims in general and Kashmiri community living in Britain in particular have a cause to force a correction on the new Labour leader in regard to his failure to understand and appreciate the Kashmir Question correctly and address the Human Rights situation in Indian occupied Kashmir, at least in the manner, as addressed in the three report of the United Nations.

Hindu Forum Britain has remained on the look out and has squeezed a shift in labours policy on Kashmir and a rare admission of ‘Hinduphobia’ and racism suffered by a ‘peaceful and loyal’ Hindu community of millions living in the United Kingdom. HFB leadership has been able to further wrench a drop of gratitude from the Labour leader, to India for selling the much needed “PARACETAMOL during this difficult time”. It is for the first time that ‘Hinduphobia’ has been introduced in the British political vocabulary.

There is a lesson for Pakistani and Kashmiri Muslim community living in Britain, that the new Labour Leader initiated a contact with the leadership of Hindu Forum Britain (HFB), which has a claim of “representing more than 320 member organizations giving voice to the million strong Hindu community in the UK”. HFB has an impressive representative face. It is headed by Mrs. Trupti Patel FCIHT, MSc, BEng CE, MISTD. Who would not pay a respectful heed to this Patel, when we have another Patel in the British Cabinet and many more Hindus holding the key positions.

It is interesting to find that HFB did not rush into a meeting but decided to set out a 3 point agenda in their letter of 8 April 2020. The letter cautioned the Labour leader, “There are many issues of concern to the Hindu/Indian community, for the purpose of this letter, suffice to say, the following three I believe give us a good starting point for our proactive engagement, and a test of whether you and the Labour Party are serious about such engagement”. The three concerns have been identified as (1) Caste legislation, (2) Anti-India stance and (3) Hinduphobia in the party.

What a smart way to charge on new Labour Leader and squeeze concessions and gratitude from him. There could be merit in the issues raised but HFB has been very mischievous to hide its real motive in agenda item 2, and have squeezed a statement of their choice on Kashmir from Keir Starmer. There is an uproar in British Kashmiri and Pakistani community on the major shift in labour party. Pakistanis and Kashmiris in Britain are a numerical force and could offer any electoral challenge to any political party. Unfortunately this number has not been translated into a quality representation, to keep the merits of their case, in particular ‘Islamophobia’, ‘Human Rights Situation’ in Indian occupied Kashmir and the delay in UN supervised Plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. We have a very poor and mediocre leadership, which has been ill handling the Kashmir case.

Labour Leader is no cousin of HFB or a cousin of Pakistani-Kashmiri community either. We should not be irked by his understanding on Kashmir. We should not interfere in his understanding of Caste legislation and Hinduphobia. However, we have a right to challenge his understanding of Kashmir case and convince him to fix it.

Keir Starmer, although a QC, seems to be sitting on the wrong table to understand Kashmir. Even majority or may be all the 320 Hindu organizations, may not have the right understanding of Kashmir case. Starmer’s statement on Kashmir, that it was a “Constitutional Matter for Indian Parliament” and a “Bilateral Issue for India and Pakistan”, is incorrect at core. One has to be fair to one’s opponent. I would say even 80% Pakistanis and Kashmiris also do not have a reliable knowledge of Kashmir case and an understanding of the UN Resolutions on Kashmir. We have also sinned against the people of Kashmir as Keir Starmer has sinned at this point.

JKCHR has done a report titled, “Indian Actions of 5 August and 31 October 2019 – Our Options”. It answers all these questions and answers Keir Starmer as well. India and Pakistan have both admitted on 31 December 1947 and 15 January 1948 that they have tried under article 33 of UN Charter a bilateral engagement on Kashmir and have failed. As a consequence both petitioned the UN Security Council under article 35 of UN Charter. Labour Prime Minister in his telegram on 22 November 1947, has proposed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, if the latter would consider taking the matter to ICJ.

Labour Leader should be open to a counter argument from Kashmiris and Pakistanis on the issue of Kashmir. Two citations would be enough, to force Keir Starmer to correct his position. Firstly United Kingdom has argued at the 284th meeting of UN Security Council held on 17 April 1948 that Kashmir was “the greatest and gravest single issue in international affairs”.  Secondly, India has conceded at the 533rd meeting of the UN SC held on 01 March 1951, that “The people of Kashmir are not mere chattels to be disposed of according to a rigid formula; their future must be decided in their own interests and in accordance with their own desires”. A UN supervised Plebiscite has been agreed.

This is an age of engagement and argument. Kashmiris have a better case to argue. All available evidence of Indian non-compliance, aggression against the people and re-occupying the habitat from 5 August need to be placed before the Labour Leader. He is no cousin of HFB to award them a favour. Merits of Kashmir case would prevail.

(The author is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.)

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