Chairman, All Parties Hurriyet Conference
Before OIC Annual Meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers
The United Nations New York
September 23, 2011
It is truly a great honor for me to address this annual meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, especially in this volatile world of ours, and to share with you the prospects of peace for one of the longest continuing conflicts on our planet which isKashmir.
The basic principle for a just solution of Kashmir was laid down here at the United Nations in the international agreements embodied in the Security Council resolutions of 1948 & 1949 to which the governments ofIndiaandPakistanare parties. That principle is self-determination. This essential principle can never become obsolete, nor overtaken by events, asIndiaargues. In fact it has become more relevant after the world has witnessed the Arab Spring in 2011.
Not only can our planet not sustain current levels of global consumption, but, also, more importantly, the peoples of the world are refusing to tolerate the current levels of injustice and inequality. Of course, there are many who will insist that change is not forthcoming. However, let’s leave no room for doubt, that the naysayers are only those resisting forces beyond their control. It is time for a ‘new vision’; one that acknowledges the sweeping changes occurring throughout the widerMiddle East. From Morocco to Indonesia, from Kosovo to Kashmir, and, yes, finally fromPalestine– people are alive, awake and ready.
The wondrous fragrance of the Arab Spring, the courage ofTurkey, the people’s revolt inEgypt,LibyaandTunisia, and the sagacious leadership of OIC are just a few signs signifying this unbelievable resurgence in the Islamic world. A great tide of change is sweeping the heart of the Middle East and people are willing to sacrifice all to tear down those walls of tyranny that were, for too long, dishonoring the dignity of the common man. This renaissance has already led to the surfacing of a striking new vision: one that is working with peoples of all colors and creeds to promote an inclusive world. This vision is brave, confident and empowering. Critically, it respects the traditions of the masses and does not feign them to be sheep that need to be led, but rather leaders that need to be nurtured.
Today, we are about to witness a tremendously auspicious moment in history: A free, democratic, sovereign Palestinian state. The people ofKashmirare uniquely tailored to understand that deep grievances of the Palestinian people. We, too, are occupied, besieged, humiliated and scattered throughout the world. We, too, travel on documents that do not reflect our national aspirations. We, too, have numerous UN resolutions in the books that mandate our inherent right to self-determination. We, the Kashmiri people, understand the suffering of Palestinians better than others, since we too, are living a similar nightmare. Militarily powerful adversaries are trampling the rights of our peoples.India flagrantly abuses international law whether it is the imprisonment of political prisoners or the recent gruesome unearthing of more than 2,700 mass graves inKashmir. This ‘new vision’ on the horizon refuses to accept that anyone is above international law.
Excellencies, today, I stand here to remind you that the human rights situation in Kashmir has not changed despite the peace talks betweenIndiaandPakistan. Today, the people of Jammu & Kashmir are experiencing the horrors of human rights atrocities on daily basis: extrajudicial killings that surpass 100,000 in the last two decades, torture, arbitrary detentions, involuntary disappearances and ruthless suppression of political expression.
The situation inKashmir has become increasingly deadly with human rights abuses going on unabated. Over 4600 mass graves have been located by an International Tribunal on Kashmir, headed by an eminent Indian-American scholar, Professor Angana Chatterji, yet, the Indian Government is refusing to allow international human rights organizations to investigate. Recently, an Indian police team, operating under the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), completed their report that verified the horrific discovery of 2700 mass graves. This eye-opening report confirms that 574 bodies have been identified as disappeared locals.
Furthermore, this latest report concludes that there is “every probability” that the remaining unidentified graves, of over 2,100 bodies, ‘may contain the dead bodies of [persons subject to] enforced disappearances.’ And, if India does not allow the DNA profiles of the bodies to be examined, then “it has to be assumed/ presumed that [the] State wants to remain silent deliberately to hide the Human Rights violations.”
This blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life is just another reminder of the tremendous sacrifices the people of Kashmir are enduring. We call on the United Nations to condemn these atrocities upon the innocent Kashmiri people, organize a UN tribunal to ascertain the gravity of the tyranny and to request Mr. Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa), Chairperson-Rapporteur ‘United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances’ to conduct an independent investigation.
Far from seeking to rectify its atrocious human rights record,Indiahas legalized its state-human rights abuses in Kashmir. It has given its occupation forces powers to shoot to kill and the license to abuse the people ofKashmirin whatever ways they like in order to suppress the popular movement for self-determination. The United States, Department of State, in its Country Report on Human Rights Practices issued on April 8, 2011 says, “The Public Safety Act (PSA), which applies only in Jammu and Kashmir, permits state authorities to detain persons without charge or judicial review for as long as two years. During this time family members do not have access to detainees, and detainees do not have access to legal counsel.”
Words can only cheapen the acute grief and afflictions experienced by the entire Kashmiri population. Every person has one or more tales of weeping and sobbing to recount. And their pain is compounded by the silence and indifference of the international community. Despite the faint murmur of protest by the international community and an occasional report in the world press,Indiahas felt no pressure whatsoever to desist from its genocidal campaign. For many reasons, the world powers have remained silent on the issue of human rights inKashmir. That silence has had deadly consequences for the people of this unfortunate land.
We would like to reiterate that the urgent goal of resolving the Kashmir dispute couldn’t be left to the two governments of India and Pakistan to achieve. Bilateral talks have proven barren for more than 64 years; they have lacked a sense of urgency. It requires the engagement of a multilateral effort with the participation of the leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The element that has been missing in efforts toward a settlement is the political representation of Kashmiris. To regain this, the people of Kashmir have developed a political consciousness to present their peaceful objectives to the international community. This consciousness is embodied in the All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC), which represents the broader spectrum of the opinion of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The APHC wants a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict through dialogue, with the participation of all arties. APHC’s view is one of inclusion. APHC believes that there is nothing to be gained by isolating groups with varying opinions.
I along with my colleagues at APHC have pursued the policy of engagement for a peaceful and lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute. Keeping that factor in mind, I have engaged in talks with the former PM ofIndia, Mr. Atel Behari Vajpayee and current PM ofIndia, Dr. Manmohan Singh. The response ofIndiawas not to consider our views and engage us in dialogue, nor was it to resolve the issue ofKashmirbut unfortunately to dissolve it.
The United Nations has a moral and legal obligation to help settle the issue ofKashmirin accordance with the wishes and will of the people. Past failures to settle the question should not deter the United Nations from present efforts. Now more than ever, the United Nations must renew efforts to bring about the promised settlement.
Earlier this week, the United Nations General Assembly President Nassir Abdul-Aziz Al-Nasser of the State of Qatar said, “History has shown that peaceful settlements, including those brokered through mediation efforts, provide the most cost-effective and long-lasting solution for disputes.” The leadership of the people of Kashmir endorses the bold initiative of Ambassador Al-Nasser and hopes that the OIC wholeheartedly supports this noble aspiration.
First, as testament to the ‘new vision’ – a sovereign, Palestine free, standing proud amongst the comity of nations.
Second, let us promise to support the people of Kashmir by giving the full membership in this august body of the OIC.
Let me say to the people ofPalestine, that the people of Kashmir, proudly, are the first to congratulate you on your bold initiative. Let it be written in history that an oppressed people, suffering under Indian occupation are overjoyed looking at you in your moment of glory, confident that our time will soon come.
We have faith that the United Nations policy towards Kashmir will be shaped not by the relative strategic value to the U.N. of India orPakistanbut by the principles of a just and durable peace. We also hope that the United Nations will not continuance any attempt to ignore the wishes of the people of the State ofJammu and Kashmirand by pass the expression of those sentiments.