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Pakistani High Commission in UK organised seminar on Kashmir Black Day

16 November, 2019

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Pakistani High Commission in the UK organised the seminar in connection with the Kashmir Black Day, which is observed every year on October 27. This is the day when in 1947 the Indian forces illegally landed in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and together with Patiala troops, already illegally present in Kashmir, Dogra forces and RSS terrorists carried out genocide of over 300,000 Kashmiris and displaced over one million Kashmiri Muslims. The Kashmiri community, parliamentarians, academia, legal fraternity, cross-section of the civil society, representatives of human rights organisations and media persons attended the seminar.

Speaking on the occasion, the High Commissioner Mohammad Nafees Zakaria took into account multiple facets of the longstanding dispute of Kashmir. He traced genesis of the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe and said Kashmir issue is back on the international radar in the wake of illegal action taken by the BJP government on August 5, 2019. The status of the longstanding international dispute of Kashmir was changed in blatant violation of UN Security Council resolutions, which promised Kashmiris’ their right to self-determination under a UN supervised plebiscite, he added. Zakaria said the siege and ensuing humanitarian crisis necessitated immediate response from the international community.

He said that given the Indian forces’ track record of atrocities and crimes against humanity, it is not beyond comprehension that the stories of tragedies of individual families may start to surface in due course since media, human rights activists or even the relatives have absolutely no access to the Kashmiris under siege. He identified that there are numerous crimes against humanity, committed by the Indian forces, including more than two dozen massacres since 1989, mass rape of Kashmiri Muslim women of Kunan Pashpora, dilemma of ‘half widows’, mass blindings and physical tortures, all documented by international human rights organisations.

Zakaria highlighted that connivance, manipulation in demarcation of boundaries and deceit were the reasons behind the Kashmir dispute. He quoted several examples to this effect from the books of renowned authors Alastair Lamb, Victoria Schofield and Sir Christopher Beaumont. He said that the Kashmir dispute, which was a political issue, had assumed many other dimensions such as human rights, security and socio-economic impact on the impoverished people of the region. “This is what the prime minister of Pakistan has been cautioning the international community about since August 5, 2019,” he added. He emphasised that it was important for the world to know about the human tragedy in IOK before it was too late.

In his talk, Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights President Dr Nazir Gilani explained the genesis of Kashmir issue and aftermath of the partition. He spoke about the legal framework in which so far the Kashmir dispute has been discussed and dealt with by the UN and various countries, including the UK and the United States. Dr Gilani shed light on the background of the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir and shared the history of legal debates on the dispute. He emphasised on educating the people about the jurisprudence of Kashmir for deeper understanding of the conflict. Gilani cautioned the constant siege of Kashmir could have bearing on communal relations in the UK; therefore, international community must pay attention to the humanitarian crisis in IOK.

British barrister of international fame and former UN Rapporteur on Human Rights Ben Emmerson QC spoke on human rights violations in Kashmir in the light of numerous documented accounts and emphasised on the legal accountability of crimes in IOK. He said Kashmir is facing a unique and possibly existential crisis. He deplored the paradoxical irony that it is only when the human rights situation becomes worse that the world starts paying attention to it. Despite documented evidence, Emmerson added, the world had turned a blind eye to the glaring atrocities against Kashmiri people. He refuted Indian narrative of Kashmir being an internal matter and termed it to be a Nazi defence against human rights abuses. He said Kashmir is clearly an international crisis.

Emmerson equated the plight of the Kashmiri people to the “slow-burning genocide”. He refuted Indian claims that those martyred in IOK were terrorists, and said the International People’s Tribunal Report on mass graves proved them to be indigenous Kashmiris by examining their DNA. He noted that no one wanted to see the military solution due to its grave consequences, rightly pointed out by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Summing up, the QC said that given the disproportionate presence of the military in IOK, indigenous people could not get the right to self-determination through fighting; therefore, under the circumstances, it was imperative for the international community to intervene and resolve the conflict.

MEP Anthea McIntyre called for stopping immunity of Indian forces from prosecution for crimes. She called upon all EU countries to condemn what had been happening in IOK. She wondered how India could expect to be the permanent member of the UNSC when its human rights record was so appalling. Ms McIntyre said the UK wanted trade with India but not at the price of human rights, which was too high a price. The MEP also recalled her recent visit to Pakistan and AJK where she listened to the heart-rending stories of the victims of Indian firing along the Line of Control.

Renowned Kashmiri activist Professor Nazir Shawl deliberated on the impact of Kashmir issue on regional prosperity and development. He said peace is a precondition for prosperity and development. “When the right to life has been snatched from the Kashmiris, how can we expect prosperity?”

He was of the view that regional trading blocs like EU and ASEAN were imperative for prosperity and development, but India had constantly been impeding regional development by scuttling SAARC. Uzma Rasool, a young woman of Kashmiri descent, delved on the plight of Kashmiri women. She narrated the account of Kunan Pashpora mass rape of women in 1991 by the Indian occupation forces and its devastating socio-psychological impact on the lives of the victims. She shared that women in IOK were so traumatised that they sleep in groups at night for their safety and security.

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