WASHINGTON - The Kashmiri-American Council has called on the international community to help create conditions for a free and fair referendum for realization of the inalienable right pledged to them by the United Nations six decades ago. Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director of the Washington-based organization, told a seminar marking the Self-Determination Day that on January 5, 1949, the UN Commission for India and Pakistan championed the stand that the future status of Jammu and Kashmir must be ascertained in accordance with aspirations of the people of the territory. Commenting on the recent elections in Indian Occupied Kashmir, Fai said Kashmiris believe that their leadership and the future disposition of Kashmir must be determined through the democratic process. The people, he said would accept elections in Kashmir if they are a part of a process, conducted and monitored by international observers which would eventually lead to the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute. He emphasized that there is no doubt that the authority of any government can only derive from the will of the people as expressed in truly free and fair elections held in regular intervals on the basis of universal, equal and secret suffrage. Elections must meet legitimate standards based on internationally accepted and prescribed procedures for voter registration, election campaign and ballot secrecy. "But the recent elections in Kashmir were undertaken in an environment of forcible confinement of Kashmiri leadership, coercion and fear of the presence of 700,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces. The entire Hurriyet leadership, including Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah and Naeem Khan were imprisoned in contravention of Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Geelani were put under house arrest for over seven weeks. Furthermore, a series of Draconian Laws severely limit the ability of the people of Kashmir to exercise their free will. "Therefore, the elections in Kashmir do not meet this threshold and are not legitimate as a vehicle to move forward any talks even as a first step towards the resolution of Kashmir dispute." Even Omar Abdullah, the would-be Chief Minister of Kashmir, said during election rallies that elections are held to express desire for good governance and not a verdict on the future status of Kashmir, he pointed out. Dr Fai declared that "We should know that the Government of India's election plan has nothing to do with building a majority consensus in Kashmir; or to strengthen the peace process between India and Pakistan. It is designed to legitimate its illegitimate rule in the eyes of the international community." He affirmed that the real issue in Kashmir is not about elections, nor it is about the economic package or terrorism. "The real issue in Kashmir is about the political destiny of the 15 million people of Kashmir."