MUZAFFARABAD, May 23 (APP): Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday said holding a meeting of the Tourism Working Group of G-20 countries in Srinagar was an utter violation of the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir.
Addressing the special session of the AJK Legislative Assembly, Bilawal Bhutto said the people of Kashmir had been denied of their basic right to self-determination for decades and now such a meeting in the world’s most militarized zone could not prove that normalcy had returned in the region.
He said history could not be changed through such cheap acts as the Jammu and Kashmir was forcibly occupied by India and was recognized a disputed territory. The people of Kashmir had been denied their inalienable right for decades, their lands had been grabbed, properties being confiscated and they were subjugated to torture and extra-judicial killings.
He said the Jammu and Kashmir issue was the unfinished agenda of the partition of sub-continent when the rights and aspirations of the people of Kashmir were trampled by machinations and intrigue. “The territory of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), where we congregate today was liberated at the cost of enormous sweat and blood,” he recalled.
Bilawal said Ironically, “today India deviously tries to convince the world that Jammu and Kashmir was an undisputed part of her territory. But history remembers that it was India that took the Jammu and Kashmir dispute to the Security Council as a dispute yet to be resolved.
“The disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir was internationally recognized, and it was decided that the final disposition of the state shall be made through a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices.”
The foreign minister asked the world that whether a country could be allowed to renege on its solemn commitments to the United Nations, break its own promises and blatantly violate international law just because it wanted to do so.
“I must emphasize here that the commitments under the UN Security Council resolutions are sacrosanct. They are neither surveyed to the whims of a jingoistic political party, nor diluted by the passage of time,” he added.
India’s continued denial of the rights of the Kashmiri people, he said, was a wrongful illegal act and no amount of diplomatic duplicity, or Indian state perpetrated terror could change that fact. “India will have to fulfill its obligations to the Security Council by granting the Kashmiri people their lawful right to self-determination,” he asserted.
Bilawal pointed out that the occupied Kashmir had become an open prison. “A prison with Kashmiri Muslims are forced to breed fear – 1000s of them killed, disappeared or blinded, their lands grabbed, their properties confiscated or bulldozed, that culture disintegrated.
“Their media muzzled, the occupying Indian forces run rampant with arbitrary detentions, torture, extrajudicial killings of Kashmiri Muslims. This mayhem continues under draconian laws, allowing complete impunity for the Indian occupying forces,” he added.
Bilawal Bhuto further said that the wretched perpetual and systemic Indian barbarism not only violated international law, but it also made a mockery of the accepted norms of fundamental human rights.
“I asked those who champion the rules-based international order and place a premium on protecting and promoting human rights. How can they turn a blind eye to this savagery? It is indeed, not wise to sacrifice these timeless principles for short term interests. One cannot wax lyrical about international law and the United Nations Security Council resolutions in Europe in the European context, and then turn a blind eye to the violation of the same international law in the Kashmiri context,” he emphasized.
The minister recalled that India’s unilateral and illegal actions of August 5, 2019 opened a new chapter of oppression. India’s ultimate aim was to convert Kashmiris into a dispossessed and disempowered minority in their own land, the fresh delimitations, domicile certificates to millions of outsiders, and addition of millions of temporary residents to the voters list were part of a well thought-out strategy to change Kashmir’s demography and its political landscape.
He made it clear that Pakistan outrightly rejected the unilateral and illegal steps. “How can the world be a silent bystander when a large country usurps the rights guaranteed by the Security Council, and instead use brute force to suppress those rights? Isn’t it the same world that is upholding these principles elsewhere, while remaining completely oblivious to them in Kashmir?” he asked.
Bilawal mentioned that India was hosting the meeting of a Tourism Working Group in Srinagar, meetings of a consultative Forum on Youth Affairs, while a G-20 had already been held in Jammu, Leh and Srinagar in the past few weeks.
“This is yet another display of India’s arrogance on the world stage, Indian occupation of a territory that is recognized as disputed under international law,” he added.
The minister said India was misusing its position as the chair of the G-20 – a forum created to address global financial and economic issues with utter disregard for the Security Council resolution, the UN Charter and its principle.
But India’s facade of normalcy in Kashmir was met by the harsh reality that occupied Kashmir remained one of the most militarized zones on the planet, he added.
Bilawal noted that normal areas were not under siege by millions of troops or were not operated under the so-called governance rule, or did not have unidentified graves and half windows.
“In normal areas people are allowed to travel abroad, and journalists are free to report how can India possibly claim that normalcy has returned to Kashmir?” he asked.
“I wish to remind the Indian leaders that unilateral steps in Jammu and Kashmir can neither record legitimacy to their occupation, nor suppress the true sentiments of the Kashmiri people. Gimmickry cannot replace legitimacy. If India wants to be a superpower, then India must be acting like a superpower. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Affairs speaks clearly on the Srinagar meeting and claims that India is providing ‘a veneer of support to a facade of normalcy’.”
Pointing out the blatant human rights violations in the occupied Kashmir, he drew an apt conclusion that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir should be “decried and condemned, not pushed under the rug and ignored”.
He reminded the world that there were two reports on the situation in occupied Kashmir by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued in 2018 and 2019. “Those of us who are interested in upholding human rights are morally bound to pay attention to these reports.”
Bilawal Bhuto asserted that Pakistan was incomplete without Kashmir as their people “have a unique affinity based on geographical proximity, shared history, commonality of religion, they share joy and sorrows. We share the same hopes, the same dreams, our hearts beat is one.”
He said Pakistan could not ignore what happened in Jammu and Kashmir. “It is a party to the dispute. For us, it is not a matter of choice. We are duty bound to play our role in the just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the people of Kashmir.”
Elaborating the commitment of Pakistan towards Kashmir, he said, “My presence here today is a testimony of our nation’s intergenerational support and lasting commitment to the Kashmir cause. We want good relations with our neighbours including India. However, good relations can only be achieved through dispute resolution, and not through dispute denials. Durable peace in South Asia remains contingent upon the settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
“Despite our consistent advocacy for constructive engagement and result-orientated dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir, India unabatedly remains hostile. Its regressive actions have, in fact, further vitiated the environment and the onus, therefore, remains on India to take the necessary steps to create an enabling environment conducive to a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue.”’
He said during his recent visit to India to attend the SCO meeting, he repeatedly stated that India would have to revert to the situation of August 4, 2019 to work out a way forward.
However, he added, India had also been trying to use the terrorism bogeyman to mass the indigenous Kashmiri struggle for the legitimate rights to self-determination and was using the same bogey to blame Pakistan and justify its brutal repression of the Kashmiri people.
“This is a complete travesty of justice. There is a clear distinction between terrorism and a people’s genuine quest for freedom. Terrorism cannot be and should not be used as an excuse to deny the Kashmiri people their fundamental rights and their fundamental freedoms.”
He said the biliterate Indian statements about Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan should be raising alarm bells across the world. “These are not isolated statements. They epitomize a political party that nurtures and holds fascist, majoritarianism and religious jingoism. If a billion people are economically and politically incentivized into hate mongering, the results can be disastrous. We could be sleepwalking towards South Asia’s Armageddon.”
He said notwithstanding India’s military and political rhetoric, Pakistan had exercised maximum restraint. “Pakistan does not want another conflict. However, it has the will and capacity to respond forcefully and effectively and defend resolutely against any act of aggression.”
While quoting the phrase “Justice delayed is justice denied”, he appealed to all men and women of consciousness across the world to urge the occupying forces of India to rescind its unilateral and illegal actions of August 5, 2019 and implement fully the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and allow the Kashmiri people to freely exercise their right to self-determination through a UN supervised plebiscite.
He also demanded to provide solemn assurances that it would not change the occupied territories’ demographic composition and not allow non-Kashmiris to acquire property or residency in Jammu and Kashmir, to halt its human rights violations, to repeal its draconian emergency laws, withdraw its heavy military presence through Kashmiri cities, towns and villages and provide unhindered access to UN OHCHR, OIC and human rights organizations and international media to investigate report on the situation in occupied Kashmir.
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