BY DR. MAZHAR JAVED
RECENT wave of Indian Security Forces’ high handedness to suppress Jammu and Kashmir freedom struggle has once again challenged the world conscience; especially of those who champion or cherish the cause of human rights. The valley came under fire on 1st April with the brutal and indiscriminate use of force that resulted in the martyrdom of more than 20 innocent Kashmiris in Shopian and Anantnag districts of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
Given the gravity of the situation, Pakistan Government decided to observe 6 April 2018 as the Kashmir Solidarity Day, to express Pakistan’s solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in this hour of difficulty.
International media reports, to say the least, are worrisome. I quote Reuter’s report that Indian forces used pellet guns and opened fire to disperse the protestors. These protestors had took to streets in large numbers against the brutal use of force by the Indian forces. Aljazeera reported Medical Superintendent of one hospital near Srinagar, telling that 41 young men with‘pellet injuries in their eyes were being treated in that hospital. Pellet guns had been used by the Indian Forces against innocent civilians especially the youth. Hundreds had received eye injuries , dozens lost their eyes permanently in the ruthless handling of the protests in 2016. That such use of force against unarmed civilians, is against basic principles of human rights would be to state the obvious. To add to the misery, Indian Occupation forces blocked the flow of news from the affected areas. Reuters reported that internet services had been blocked in five districts. There can hardly be two opinions that hiding such gross human rights violations should not be possible in today’s information age. International community must take cognizance of these developments.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi asked international community to urge India to allow access to Fact finding UN Missions of the OHCHR (Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights) and OIC IPHRC (OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission) to IOK. He also called upon the UNSC Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative for Jammu & Kashmir
The incidents of the last week were far from being isolated happenings. They had a context that goes back to 1947, when the Indian Forces Occupied the IOK and several United Nations (UNSC) resolutions promised the people of Jammu and Kashmir their right to self-determination through a free and fair plebiscite.
Since then the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been struggling for this right that had been promised to them, both by the international community through the United Nations, and by India’s own apex leadership in their several public statements. Kashmiris’ struggle for freedom continues to-date, as an unfinished agenda of the partition of Sub-continent; a long story of wars between Pakistan and India and statements at the international fora; a freedom struggle that has been dealt with by a policy of brutal suppression; a seven decade long chapter in the Jammu and Kashmir history that has been written in blood. And notably a struggle that has only increased in its momentum with a resolve of the people of Kashmiri people that increased with every passing day; an ever growing conviction for the success of their struggle that defied Indian polices of brutal suppression.
All along, the struggle and uprising of the people of Jammu and Kashmir was met with the worst kind of human rights violations. More than a hundred thousand Kashmiris have been martyred since 1989 when the freedom struggle gained a new momentum; thousands of women were raped and over a hundred thousand houses and shops burnt since then. These brutalities have failed to silence the people of Jammu and Kashmir. On the contrary, they stand committed to their goal of freedom with a commendable commitment and resilience. A decade ago, in 2008, Kashmiris took to streets in rallies with record numbers to demand their right of self determination. Interestingly many of the protest rallies had been bigger than half a million people ; rallies that leave no doubt about the result of the UN promised referendum, if that were held today. The human rights violations and the discovery of mass unnamed graves in 2008 took the whole world by surprise with a wave of strong condemnation.
In 2016, the freedom struggle took a new turn with the martyrdom of young Kashmiri freedom fighter Burhan Wani. That added another painful chapter to the history of Kashmir freedom struggle. The use of pellet guns rendered hundreds of Kashmiri youth blind and caused serious injuries to others. The gravity and the scale of human rights violations shook the world conscience. Unfortunately, the use of pellet guns targeting the eyes of innocent Kashmiri youth continues. As,I have quoted last week’s report, pellet gun patients still fill the hospitals in Kashmir.
In old times, condemnation of such inhuman atrocities was limited to the statements of leaders and diplomats. That is no more the case. Social media has enabled everyone to express his views and sentiments to support what is right and to condemn what is wrong. That has put a responsibility on each one of us, every time we log into our social media accounts.
(The author is the Ambassador of Pakistan to Nepal.)
Jammu and Kashmir: Wake-up call for UN
BY DR. MAZHAR JAVED