The IOJ&K has a history of bloodshed and violence. Kashmiri people at the hands of Indian security forces have been subjected to inhumane treatment comparable or even a shade higher than Apartheid South Africa and Palestine. The death toll is on the rise each year. according to a renowned Indian author Dr Happymon Jacob, “early trends on violence in 2020 show that the levels of violence will indeed cross those of 2019.” As of 2020, over 110 Kashmiris have been martyred including women and children. Reprehensible actions, such as continuing restrictions, excruciating military crackdown, arbitrary detentions, extra-judicial killings, and incarcerations are some of the grave human rights violations being perpetrated in Kashmir. The recent action by the extremist BJP Government of revoking Article 370 is aimed at changing the demographic structure of IOJ&K thus taking the wind out of Pakistan’s stance in the long run.

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting conducted a seminar on “International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in IOJ&K” on 26th June, 2020 at the Information Services Academy. The seminar was aimed at highlighting the gross violations of fundamental human rights in Kashmir, and to provide a roadmap to resolve the Kashmir Dispute.

The event was chaired by Minister of Information Mr Shibli Faraz and the panel consisted of enlightened luminaries from the Pakistani academia, activists from Pakistan and Kashmir Valley, diplomats and other highly qualified professionals. The seminar was informative and illuminating, highlighting the importance of raising the Kashmir dispute across all international forums and to provide both diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris living under a tyrannical and oppressive state.  

After the opening remarks by the Secretary Ministry of Information, a short documentary was presented which gave the viewers an insight into the situation in Kashmir Valley. The documentary was not only informative but the graphic images of Kashmiris being beaten on the streets and interviews of Kashmiri people who had undergone extensive torture at the hands of the state had a significant impact upon the audience and people were appalled at the heinous acts of torture and violence conducted by Indian security agencies. It is important to show such documentaries to both national and international audiences in order to prevent the voice of the people of Kashmir from being subdued.

Ambassador Asif Durrani, at the seminar, gave an insight on how national interests of states determine their foreign policies. He spoke about the history of Indo-Pak conflict and how Kashmir has been the focal point for all major conflicts. He criticised Prime Minister Modi’s actions on Kashmir and emphasised the need for national resolve to fight for the Kashmir dispute and to continue this struggle for freedom of our Kashmiri brethren. Indian state has used the COVID-19 pandemic to further its agenda on Kashmir. There are repeated ceasefire violations along the LOC and even possibility of a false flag operation cannot be ruled out to distract the attention of Indian domestic audience from the Indo-China standoff at LAC. There is a need to show the true face of India to the world.

Pakistan’s standpoint on IOJ&K is morally, diplomatically and legally much superior than Indian position. However, we lack in projecting our stance to the world community in a persuasive manner. Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a veteran practitioner suggested that lawfare be employed to promote Pakistan’s narrative on Kashmir. Pakistan should remind the world about its obligations to help resolve Kashmir. There is an earnest need to readjust legal lens over IOJ&K. As a long term strategy, Pakistan’s case on IOJ&K should continue to rest on UNSC resolutions. He was of the view that Modi Government is providing ample opportunities to strengthen our legal case. Modi’s utterances and politically motivated threats hurled at Pakistan during his political rallies are violation of Article 2(4) of UN Charter.

President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, delivered his address through a recorded video message, wherein, he highlighted the grotesque human rights violations taking place under Indian Occupied Kashmir. He highlighted multiple cases of sexual molestation, murder and forced disappearances occurring in Kashmir. He called for the international community to condemn and take action against the heinous human rights violations being perpetrated in Kashmir Valley. Indian state is attempting to instil futility of resistance in the minds of Kashmiris and the Pakistan government and its people.

Mrs. Mushal Khan and Advocate Pervaiz Ahmed of the Hurriyet Conference provided a rare insight into the plight of the Kashmiri people now living under the lockdown. Mrs. Mushal Khan cited multiple cases of women and children being subjected to rape and torture by the Indian state. She thanked Pakistan for support on the Kashmir dispute and urged the international community to condemn India for its actions in Kashmir. Such voices should be provided these platforms in order to show both to the domestic and global audiences the true face of the Indian state.

The seminar on “International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in IOJ&K” by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting despite Covid-19 pandemic threat is a commendable effort. Such efforts must continue both at domestic and international level to keep the issue alive and brainstorm new ways at projecting gross human rights violations in IOJ&K.

The writer is pursuing BS International Relations at National Defense University, Islamabad.