Absence of a just settlement of Kashmir dispute threat to peace in the region: Ambassador Opeloyeru

IOK - Indian Occupied Kashmir Jammu & Kashmir

An engaging and captivating interactive session took place at the United Nations headquarters in Conference Room 6, on the subject of: “Challenges to the Realization of Right to Self-Determination in the Contemporary Global Context.” The main speakers who participated in the fascinating event included: Ms. Fionnuala d. NiAolain, Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-terrorism; Commissioner at International Court of Justice; and Professor at University of Minnesota; Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan; Ambassador M. Maged Abdelaziz, Permanent Observer Mission of the League of Arab States; Ambassador Hameed Ajibaiye Opeloyeru, Permanent Observer for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Chairman, World Forum for Peace & Justice. Others who participated in the general discussion included the Ambassador of Algeria, Ambassador of Eretria, Representatives from the embassy of India, Iran, Turkey, Venezuela, Morocco and Syria.

Ambassador Munir Akram who presided over the meeting warned that unresolved conflicts of Kashmir and Palestine pose a great threat to the international peace and security. The right of self-determination was the “bedrock” of the modern international system, the fundamental principle of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human rights. But, there were still examples where peoples continue to be denied the right of self-determination. “I would focus on the fact that we face two situations at least, where the right of self-determination is being flagrantly denied: One is Palestine and the second is Jammu and Kashmir,” Ambassador Akram emphasized.

Ambassador Akram added that the denial of self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir deserves the full attention of the international community, pointing out that massive violations of human rights were taking place there and that the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan is an ever-present threat to international peace and security.

“With regard to both the situations in Palestine and Kashmir, and I suspect elsewhere, where peoples are oppressed and occupied, a lesson of history has been that colonial power has never succeeded in suppressing the right of self-determination of a people who are determined to sacrifice all for their freedom and liberation from foreign occupation,” Ambassador Akram maintained.

The Kashmir tragedy, Amb. Akram said, has intensified after the unilateral measures taken on August 5, 2019 that ended the statehood of Kashmir with India using brutal measures to clamp down on the unrest in besieged Kashmir.

Ambassador Hameed Opeloyeru, OIC Permanent Observer to the UN said, “The OIC firmly supports the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people for the realization of their inalienable right to self-determination. OIC has always declared that the final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions is indispensable for a durable peace and security in South Asia.”

Ambassador Opeloyeru added that “With regard to the Jammu and Kashmir issue, the OIC would continue to work for the implementation of several OIC resolutions culminating in the recent resolution No. 8/49-POL on Jammu and Kashmir Dispute issued at the 49th CFM held in Mauritania on 16-17 March 2023. The OIC would continue to support the principles and objectives of UN Charter which would include recalling the numerous unimplemented UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, which declare that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people, expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite, conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.”

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Chairman, ‘World Forum for Peace Justice’ who came from Washington to attend the rally said, “What principles and instruments do Kashmiris invoke for the redress of the wrongs inflicted on them? Not any conceived and inspired solely by their religion. They call for adherence to principles which are recognized by the Charter as basic to a peaceful and stable world order. The self-determination of peoples which have a defined and recognized individuality and fulfillment of international agreements constitute the sum and substance of their claim. The documents the Kashmiris rely upon were composed by western hands in the Security Council of the United Nations. Yet they are being sidelined by those who believe in peace, justice and human dignity.”

“The posture of admitting no wrong which remains habitually Indian is receiving much encouragement from the very world powers that loudly swear a commitment to human rights, international law, universal principles and democratic values. The encouragement is afforded by the very potent means of studied silence over the violations being committed in Kashmir, no matter how rampant. Let me cite an example. Dr. Gregory Stanton, President, Genocide Watch warned the Biden Administration in January 2022 that Kashmir was at the brink of genocide. Have we heard a word, even a whisper from President Biden or Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, about gardens being turned into graveyards, about young women being raped and their mothers being forced to witness the atrocity, about young men being crippled and maimed for life, about the great numbers of fake disappearances which are continuing to this day in occupied Kashmir?”

Dr. Fai maintained “This respectful protection provided to the occupation regime in Kashmir by world powers is a most depressing example of the double standards that are maintained in upholding the values which were enshrined in the United Nations Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international covenants and treaties. One cannot successfully fight a war against extremism while fertilizing the sense of injustice that is one of the roots of extremism. One cannot overcome the religious extremism if one keeps supplying them proof that, for redressing injustice, peaceful secular processes are but a pretense or a trap.”

During her intervention, Ms. Suman Sonkar, the Indian delegate said that Kashmir was an integral part of India and will remain so; and that there is peace and development in Kashmir. In response to her statement, Dr. Fai raised two questions: one, India should ask Antonio Guterres why he insists that Kashmir conflict should be resolved under UN Charter and applicable UN Security Council resolutions, if it was an integral part of India; and second, given that there is peace and development in Kashmir, then why India needs to keep 900,000 of its military and paramilitary stationed in Kashmir?

Dr. Fai is also the Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum. He can be reached at: gnfai2003@yahoo.com