Kashmiri Leaders See Glimpses of Hope as UN Chief Arrives in India
1 October 2018
“I remain concerned by the situation in Jammu and Kashmir – I encourage positive dialogue for disagreements to be resolved peacefully,” said Guterres.
The United Nations chief Antonio Guterres arrived in India Monday on his official visit to the country which coincides with the 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on Oct. 2.
Before leaving for India, Guterres said that the country is an “important partner” of the world body in combating terrorism, and there are plans to collaborate more on strengthening capacity in combating terror financing.
He also expressed his concern over the human rights situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir where the army cracks down on the Kashmiri people with complete impunity. He encouraged positive dialogue to peacefully resolve the three-decade-long conflict.
The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) of Kashmir comprised of Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik, and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq jointly wrote to Guterres ahead of his trip to India. They sought his help in the resolution of the Kashmir issue, emphasizing Kashmiris right to self-determination. The JRL is hopeful that the U.N. Chief can push India for a proper dialogue with pro-independence Kashmiris.
“First, we feel that India’s refusal to talk is doing unimaginable harm not only to Kashmir, but to the entire South Asian region at a time during which interconnectedness culturally, economically and politically (often termed globalization) is the driving force in international relations,” the letter stated.
“Second, we would like to draw your attention once again to the human rights violations by the Indian armed forces. This has been documented most recently by your own Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights. The lack of sustained attention by the international community to this aspect of the disputed conflict, and not calling India to account on this score, has only succeeded in emboldening its armed forces, enjoying immunity from law, causing untold misery for civilian Kashmiris who are forced to live with arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, torture and killings in their everyday lives.
“Third, Jammu and Kashmir is not a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. We would like to assert that it is primarily a question of the rights of the peoples of the State of J&K, and that resolution must be sought within the parameters of that definition as well. In this regard, we would like to emphasize that this facet of the dispute can only be addressed if we, the peoples of the state, are permitted to represent our case and therefore ask you to champion our right to be heard on the dispute as the primary party to it.”
The JRL also gave an estimate of people injured and blinded by the indiscriminate use of pellet guns. They have attached pictures of the victims and survivors to stress the gravity of atrocities committed against Kashmiri people who want their independent state and terms Indian occupation as illegal.
“As you are visiting India at a time of grave crisis in the disputed State of Jammu and Kashmir, the civil society — Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) considers it a great opportunity to invite you to visit Kashmir. … Your visit could pressurise the Indian state to take affirmative action on the ground of Kashmir, put a stop to gross human rights violations at political, economic, civil, cultural and environmental level carried through unprecedented deployment of military forces and its own delegated bureaucrats which is a new norm of people’s rule (democracy) in Indian lexicon,” reads the email.
In response to the letter, Guterres’ office said that he would be unable to accept the invitation as he has a tight schedule.
Earlier, the Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi while speaking at the 73rd UNGA and during a meeting of Organization for Islamic Cooperation highlighted the plight of Kashmiris and asked the international body to intervene and hold India accountable for its atrocities against Kashmiris.
The U.N. chief began his three-day visit in India during which he will attend a mega renewable energy event. He will also meet the leaders of the state including Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India. The chief is likely to discuss important issues like climate change and terrorism during his visit.