Afzal Hussain

The enslaved people of Indian Occupied Kashmir beseech the lovers of human rights, and democracy to actively participate in mobilizing the world opinion against human rights abuses committed in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). The State of Jammu and Kashmir is famous for its alluring beauty and natural landscape. It is a fascinating terrain. Interestingly, Kashmir is commonly acknowledged as paradise (metaphorically speaking) on earth. However, the inhabitants of this metaphorical paradise are still waiting to exercise their fundamental right as human beings. That is, to exercise the right of self-determination to decide their future through a free and fair plebiscite; this was guaranteed b y the United Nation resolutions nearly seven decades ago.

The innocent people of the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) have faced worst draconian laws, extra-judicial killings, illegal detentions, gang rapes, intimidations and unprecedented humiliations. The reality of the fake encounters conducted by Indian forces is not secret anymore. The Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) is a heart-breaking tale of tyranny, turmoil and misery; whereas, those who are living under the Indian oppression have to face misery and misfortune, and go through harrowing experience almost daily. The Indian occupied forces have turned the enthralling Kashmir valley into a burning paradise.

Since independence to February 2016, it has been almost seven decades but the objectives of the Kashmir Freedom Movement are not achieved yet. One basic reason of the failure in achieving the objectives of the Kashmir Freedom Movement is the lack of persistence in persuading the international community in general, and governing world bodies in particular. Pakistani diplomats have failed in correctly representing the Kashmir issue before the world. The inappropriate policies of the previous governments and the visionless and inefficient ruling elite of the Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) have added fuel to the burning of this paradise. The Indian occupation of the Kashmir led to three wars (excluding Kargil war) between India and Pakistan. Resultantly, Pakistan had been obligated to entirely focus on countering Indian nefarious designs. Pakistan’s foreign office had miserably failed to appropriately highlight the Indian sponsored terrorism in Pakistan. Pakistani diplomatic missions have hardly played any successful role in seeking support for Pakistan’s principle stance on Kashmir issue from Kashmiris and Pakistanis living abroad.

It seems to be that there is a need of Kashmir Information Desks (Kashmir public awareness section / Kashmir media cells) in every Pakistani Embassy or High Commission abroad with an aim to highlight human rights abuses committed by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir. The (proposed) Kashmir Information Desks should only consist of Kashmiri / Pakistani writers, journalists, professionals, lawyers and political workers (no civil servants). The Prime Minister of Pakistan may appoint suitable people in the (proposed) Kashmir Information Desks for three to five years (tenure should be subject to yearly satisfactory report) after having meaningful consultation with the Prime Minister and President of AJK.

Pakistan has a legitimate and lawful claim over Kashmir. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had declared Kashmir as Pakistan’s jugular vein. It exemplifies the significance of the Kashmir for Pakistan. Kashmir was and still is part and parcel of the agenda of partition of the Sub-continent.

There is a plethora of studious work based on practical findings prepared by independent and impartial organizations, which aim to highlight human rights abuses in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. For instance, the Indian forces stationed in occupied Kashmir are acting in absolute violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 - in particular Article 3 that “guarantees right to life, liberty and security”; Article 5 that states that “no one shall be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”; and Article 9 that prohibits “arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” The human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir are an actual test for leaders of those nations, who claim to be torchbearers of human rights and maintain their positions as champions of democracy and freedom.

However, it is unfortunate that most of the world is not even aware of the exact sufferings of the Kashmiris living under Indian occupation. The Kashmiri and Pakistani leaders must appropriately highlight the Kashmir issue as a matter of the protection of the human rights. For instance, the Palestinians are doing considerably fine in mobilizing the world opinion against Israel. Therefore, Kashmiris and Pakistanis should learn from Palestinians who have made their movement a family based campaign (men, women, children, old or young, everyone regularly speaks everywhere for Palestine including via twitter, facebook or other social media websites).

Therefore, we as a nation must seize every opportunity to highlight the Kashmir issue before the world. It is time to remind the world that Kashmir is a disputed territory in the light of the UN resolutions and the Kashmiris are awaiting a free and fair plebiscite. A key element of Pakistan's proactive involvement on the Kashmir issue should be on providing firm diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris. This can be done through enhancing the capacity of the Pakistani diplomatic missions abroad (establishment of Kashmir Information Desks with a mission to highlight human rights abuses in Indian Occupied Kashmir thus mobilize the world opinion in favor of a free and fair plebiscite).

It is most unfortunate that three generations of Kashmiris have only seen broken promises and brutal oppression. This is the most persistent failure of the United Nations (apparently world’s peace keeper), European Union (so-called champion of human rights) and the Organization of Islamic Countries (impotent brotherhood) that over 100,000 innocent Kashmiris have died in their struggle for self-determination.

Pakistan cannot obviously abandon Kashmir under any conditions particularly when Kashmir (metaphorical paradise on earth) is burning and its inhabitants are bleeding to death. Therefore, it is time to tell the Indian government and the world that Pakistan is committed to bilateral trade, visa relaxation policies, economic cooperation, mutual anti-terror efforts, peace, and stability in the South Asia but enduring peace is only possible, if Kashmir issue is resolved in the light of UN resolutions. That is, by holding a free and fair plebiscite in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

–(The writer is a Barrister based in I