WELCOME REMARKS – Seminar on “HRVs in IoK”

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Seminar on HRVs in IoK
10 December 2018

Honorable Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shirin Mazari.
Mr Ghulam Muhammad Safi, Convener APHC
Ms Tahira Abdullah, Human Rights activist
Mr Sardar Amjad Yousaf Khan, Exec Director Kashmir Institute of IR.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of Chairman Board of Governors Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, myself and the Institute, I extend to you all a very warm welcome to today’s event.

I express our special pleasure in welcoming back Dr Mazari to the Institute that she has served for many years as its Director General. Dr Mazari is known for speaking in a forthright manner and with candor. When it comes to national interests of Pakistan, she is particularly strident in tone and tenor, which has earned her a special place in politics and academia alike.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Today, the 10th of December is celebrated every year as Human Rights Day. This year, it is a particularly special day. It marks the 70th anniversary of the adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. It also culminates a year-long campaign by the United Nations to highlight the theme of equality, justice and human dignity.

While the world has indeed made progress in promoting and protecting human rights in the last seventy years, we still have to cover a long way before we can say that we have stood up for equality, justice and human dignity.

Everyday, we see human rights trampled upon and sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Nowhere is this double standard more manifest than in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, where the Indian security forces continue to violate the fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people with impunity.

As you all are aware, the Kashmir cause has been central to Pakistan foreign policy. The people of Pakistan and the people of Kashmir have remained connected through lasting bonds of history, culture and faith. What hurts Kashmiris hurts us.

On this day, when we celebrate 70th anniversary of the adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let us hope that the international community would pledge to grant the people of Jammu and Kashmir their fundamental rights, including the right to self-determine their destiny.

Seven decades have passed since the international community promised that right to the people of Kashmir. Countless resolutions, seminars, symposia, memoranda. The BJP government has tried every method to break the resolve of the Kashmiri people, including attempts to abrogate or amend Articles 35A and 370 in a bid to change demography and status of Kashmir. Regrettably, the successive Indian governments have refused to listen to the voices of international community. Indian government must know that no country has been able to suppress freedom loving people. That’s what history tells us.

The last few years have been particularly hard on Kashmiris. The gross violations of their human rights have created a grave humanitarian situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir. The use of pellet guns to blind hundreds of young men and women is particularly deplorable. Alas, all these years the world has failed to take notice of the brutalities afflicted by the Indian forces on the innocent people of Kashmir.

However, this year, we were pleased to see that finally the conscience of international community woke up. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report in Geneva to show to the world how grim the human rights situation has become in the occupied Kashmir.

To talk about the significance of this Day for the human rights of the people of Kashmir, we have amongst us a learned panel. I hope the session today would resonate the voices that stand up for the human rights of the people of Kashmir.

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