Statement by President AJK on Kashmir Turmoil: Emerging Threats to Peace and Role of International Community
Statement by Sardar Masood Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, on Kashmir Turmoil: Emerging Threats to Peace and Role of International Community, organised by the Lahore Center for Peace Research (LCPR) and the Institute for Strategic Thinking (SDE)
Ankara; November 20, 2019
I bring to you greetings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I also bring to you screams and cries of a population of 9.5 million that has been locked up for the past 107 days in the glare of international spotlight. Yet no relief has been given to them.
I thank the Lahore Center for Peace Research and the Turkish Institute of Strategic Thinking for organising this first ever international conference on Kashmir after August 5 this year; and for inviting me to speak here.
By doing so, you provide a platform to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to project their voice for justice. You also bring experts from all over the world to deliberate on ways to resolve one of the most serious problems of this century.
You bring the Kashmir cause to the radar screen of global diplomacy. Today this event may look like a blip; tomorrow it might become a trend or a tidal wave. In many parts of the world we Kashmiris are shunned. You have opened your doors to Jammu and Kashmir. Thank you Turkey; and thank you LCPS and SDE.
We are grateful to President /Recep /Tayyip /Erdogan for strongly advocating a resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through dialogue in Islamabad and Delhi and recently in New York at the UN General Assembly, without fear or favour. He has clearly said that “ .... it is imperative to solve the problem through dialogue and on the basis of justice and equity, but not through collision.” We fully agree.
He has also called for an end to the bloodshed in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and a multilateral approach to dispute. We have welcomed these statements.
And we know that the Turkish street and the Turkish civil society across the political spectrum support the just cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
I was here in May this year, when every university, every think tank, every media house, and every political party I visited, gave one clear message: We are for Kashmiris’ rights; we are with Pakistan.
Pakistan and Turkey enjoy the strongest bond between any two states in the comity of nations. And Azad Kashmir has a special relationship with Turkey. After the 2005 earthquake, you were the first and the most efficient responder for rescue, relief and rehabilitation. And then you went on to reconstruct our schools, offices, hospitals and cities. You have left a deep imprint on our three towns, and in our hearts.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Kashmir is called the paradise on earth. But its occupied territory is right now rather a hell on earth, where mountains, valleys, rivers and forests - all are in shackles.
What’s more, the entire population is chained and manacled. People are imprisoned in their homes and homeland. They cannot move around, they cannot call up, they cannot speak out.
A full gag order has been slapped in Kashmir; and now India wants to silence voices being raised for the rights of the Kashmiris. They want to stall and stymie conferences on Kashmir in any part of the world. They will not succeed.
In the occupied Jammu and Kashmir, people are being killed, blinded, maimed, detained, tortured and disappeared, by the thousands . Women have been raped and molested by occupation forces to punish the entire population. Some 13,000 young boys have been abducted and transferred to prisons where they are being tortured. Mothers do not know where their boys are.
People are being picked up at random to spread fear and terror. The entire political leadership of the territory is behind bars. According to Genocide Watch, these are different stages of genocide.
Today every young boy in Kashmir is terrorist; and every young girl is fair game for occupation forces who treat them as spoils of war and objectify women’s bodies.
This is not what I am saying; this is what the mainstream international media and human rights organisations have substantiated independently. This is what TRT, Anadolu Agency and other Turkish media networks have corroborated and reported. Kashmir today has become a wasteland because of occupation and oppression.
On August 5, 900,000 marauding and rampaging Indian occupation forces invaded the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, re-occupied it and laid siege to it. Since then they have been brutalising its people. The occupation authorities have bifurcated their land in violation of the UN Charter, UN Security resolutions, and the Geneva Conventions.
In one go, Indian regime has taken away the special rights of the Kashmiris to education, employment, acquisition of property and permanent residence. Hindus from all over India would be settled in Jammu and Kashmir to replicate the model of the settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and change the demographic composition of the state for all times to come. Kashmiri Muslims, now nearly 70 per cent of the occupied territory, will be turned into a minority.
This is colonisation plain and simple; and IOJK today is effectively under foreign occupation and alien domination.
The entire world is clamouring against the wicked plot India’s fascist regime has set in motion. International media outlets and national parliaments have called out the Bhartiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for perpetrating crimes against humanity in IOK. They have spoken up for the civil liberties, fundamental freedoms and the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people.
We are also also grateful to the political forces, civil society organisations and ordinary citizens of India who have decried and denounced the Indian regime over its blatant and unlawful steps in Kashmir, even at the risk of their own demonisation by extremists.
The British, French and European Parliaments have held debates on Kashmir and the US Congress has convened two hearings on the human rights crisis in Kashmir, the latest by the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the British All Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group have called for a ban on the use of the pellet guns, as well as repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act. They have all demanded an end to the security lockdown and information blackout.
We reject the Indian decisions announced on October 31 to divide the state of Jammu and Kashmir, redraw its boundaries and issue fake maps. This is a direct infringement of the rights of the Kashmiri people and a violation of international law.
India has threatened to impose a war on Azad Jammu and Kashmir - the state I represent - and Pakistan; and has signalled that it would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons in such a war. Its ruling elite whips up war hysteria and incites hatred against Kashmiris and Pakistan. The clouds of war are becoming darker and thicker.
The occupation soldiers frequently target, kill and disable civilians in Azad Kashmir living along the Line of Control; and destroy houses and infrastructure. They have used cluster munitions that have taken lives of children. With more than 50 civilians killed and 300 seriously injured, this has been the worst year for the 540,000 civilians living on this side of the LOC.
Indian regime’s posture is irresponsible, aggravating and aggressive.
The irony is that while Indian government’s brutalities have sparked criticism across international political spectrum, the Hindu violent extremists are cheering the brutalities in Kashmir with macabre triumphalism. And the lips of the most powerful nations, who are the self-proclaimed custodians and guardians on the rule-based world order, are sealed. Kashmiris are caged, stuck and impaled, as they are caught in the crossfire of geopolitics.
Except for holding one formal session at the request of Pakistan, the UN Security Council has not convened any other meeting on Kashmir, which it is bound to do under the Charter, to stop the carnage in Kashmir and remove the threat to peace and security in the region.
I ask what is the use of the corpus of international law, that we invoke so fondly and frequently, if it cannot save Kashmiris who are being killed in front of our eyes? Will the world continue to reward India while it is on a killing spree? Will India get away with murder because of the ‘new normal’ of “exceptionalism” and “exemptionalism” for the big tyrannical countries, with whom the strategic and economic ties of the arbiters of war and peace are tied? Will our fluid world order founder on realpolitik, while it abandons the cardinal purposes and principles of the UN Charter wantonly?
Is this pandering to India today in the face of what is happening in Kashmir not reminiscent of the culture of appeasement in the last century that led to the rise of Nazism, fascism, a devastating world war and a holocaust? While India is allowed to upend the world order, are we now bracing for a Kashmir holocaust and would atone for it later when the evil deed would have been done ? Are Kashmiri Muslims’ lives expendable? Are they not citizens of this planet? Are Kashmiris orphans of the global family? Do they not have right to defend themselves? Do they not have the right to self-defence which all the peoples of the world?
Today, in this hour of darkness, we look towards Turkey, the symbol of vibrancy and renaissance. We respect your strong commitment to the tenets of justice, dignity and liberty. You are the standard bearer of humanitarianism; and humanitarian diplomacy has become the central plank of your foreign policy.
You are taking a new constructive role in the emerging multipolar order where principles and the rule of law matter; and you are leading the world to move beyond the realism-idealism balancing act. And because of you, Mogadishu and Moroland are better places now.
We too are seeking diplomacy for resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. But it takes two to tango. Kashmiris and Pakistan, so keen on peaceful means to resolve the conflict, cannot have a diplomatic monologue by themselves. The bilateral regime right now is broken; the UN Security Council is inactive. There is no diplomatic playing field for Kashmiris or for Pakistan. We need to set up peace tables to gather all the parties for a dialogue. The best venue is the Security Council’s shoehorn. If it stays silent, that would be dereliction of duty.
In the meantime, we will welcome your humanitarian diplomacy in one form or the other. We have faith and trust in you. Turkey can be a channel of communication, a facilitator, a conciliator, a negotiator or a mediator. Why not?
We appeal to countries that have clout with India to persuade it to stop repression in IOJK; and we appeal to the global citizens to mount pressure on the international forums to make a transition from awareness-raising to action to decisions on Kashmir. Turkey can be a powerful catalyst for these processes.
My key messages to you are:
Save Kashmiris from genocide and collective annihilation. That is an absolute priority.
Build pressure on India to reverse the illegal steps it took on August 5 and October 31 to annex and colonise the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Work with the Human Rights Council to constitute a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the horrendous human rights violations in IOJK.
Prepare ground for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor for the Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Urge the UN Security Council to meet and intervene in Kashmir to save people from carnage and to stem a drift towards war in the region that could spiral to the nuclear level with dire consequences - instant death of hundreds of millions of people, slow, painful deaths by radiation, global recession, crop failures, and refugees movements. Let’s save the world from a a nuclear winter, a nuclear apocalypse.
Help us repulse the rising tide of Hindutva, the most pernicious form of violent extremism in our times, that threatens not only Muslims in Kashmir, Pakistan and South Asia, but Muslims and human beings all over the world.
Finally, despite Indian extremists’ jingoism and irredentism, let us persevere in our quest for a political and diplomatic solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Kashmiris have been striving for their freedom for the past 200 years. They have vowed that they would break the chains of subjugation and exercise their right to self-determination despite India’s recent aggression against them. No power on earth will stop them from achieving this goal. Make no mistake we will fight back; we are fighting back.
And the people of Pakistan are determined to defend every inch of their homeland by all means against any threat. Any miscalculation by India will be costly for it, for the region and the world.
Cruelty against Kashmiris is cruelty against all mankind; and injustice against Kashmiris is injustice against humanity. Don’t leave us alone. We are confident, you won’t.
As the dark forces have stormed Kashmir, let Turkey, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir, as well as the international community, work together to appeal to the better angels to staunch and stave off the catastrophe in Kashmir.
And I invite you to visit Azad Kashmir, the free part of Jammu and Kashmir, where we have nothing to hide and lots to showcase, where you would be able to see how we are promoting the rule of law and good governance, and where we are focusing on sustainable economic development and empowerment of all segments of society, especially the girl child and women. And I promise you, when you return from Azad Kashmir you would say: this too is paradise on earth!