WELCOME REMARKS – Seminar on “UN Report: The International Community Awakens to Human Rights Violations in IoK”

168

Seminar on
“UN Report: The International Community Awakens to
Human Rights Violations in IoK”
July 31, 2018

Honorable President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan.

Honourable Riaz Khokhar sahib, our two worthy commentators Mr Ahmad Qureshi and Additional Secretary Imtiaz Ahmad.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

I extend to you all a very warm welcome to the Institute of Strategic Studies.

Today, we have gathered to discuss the recent report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir.

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 a

nd faith. What ails Kashmiris hurts Pakistanis and vice versa.

It has been our conviction that the people of Jammu and Kashmir must be given their 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. Regrettably, the successive Indian governments have refused to listen to the voices of international community; or the voices of reason or the voices of conscience. Instead, it has chosen to subjugating Kashmiris by force.

Does the Indian government not know that history has shown that you can never suppress freedom loving people. One of the greatest presidents of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, once said that those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.

The Indian government must note that the blatant use of force has failed to weaken the resolve of the Kashmiris. The world can see that generation after generation, Kashmiris have spoken out for their rights.

The High Commissioner report has rightly noted that the current wave of protests in Indian-Administered Kashmir since July 2016 appears to involve more people than the past, and includes more young, middle-class Kashmiris, including females.

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.

For long, we have waited for the international community to take notice of the brutalities afflicted by the Indian forces on the innocent people of Kashmir.

For long, India has gotten away with its heavy-handed approach to Kashmiris.

For long, the people of Kashmir have been disappointed at the indifference shown by international community.

However, we are now pleased to see that finally the conscience of international community is waking up. The Report of the High Commissioner on Human Rights is a reminder of how grim the situation has become.

It is indeed disappointing that India has rejected repeated requests for unconditional access to Kashmir to assess the human rights situation. Such calls have also been made consistently by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Regrettably, there has been no positive response from India. What is it that the Indian government wants to hide? What kind of democratic attitude is this to suppress by force the voice of freedom loving people?

The High Commissioner’s report documents in detail how legal, administrative and judicial measures have been adopted to deny the Kashmiris their fundamental human rights.

To talk about the significance of this report, we have amongst us a learned panel.

Sardar Masood Khan is a well-known personality. We are honored with his presence. We look forward to hearing his key note address. The Institute is particularly happy to welcome him back to the institution in the nurturing of which he played an important role.

I am also personally honored to have Ambassador Riaz Khokhar, former Foreign Secretary, and my former boss in Washington during the late nineties.

Warm welcome to other two speakers. Ahmad Qureshi and Additional Secretary Imtiaz Ahmad. I am also pleased to welcome in the audience the representative of the United Nations in Islamabad.  

I hope the session today would resonate the voices that stand up for the human rights of the people of Kashmir.