Despite a lapse of over seven decades, no plebiscite has been held in the IIOK Jammu and Kashmir region. Aside from legal rigmaroles, there is a human-rights dimension to the dispute. Kashmir has been reduced to a prison.

Even Mehbooba Mufti, a former BJP ally, was compelled to call Kashmir a “Guantanamo Bay” style prison. She said, “Kashmiris feel that they are literally imprisoned in a cage from which almost all exit routes are barred save one, to India, which is also not without peril.” A.G. Noorani said, “Kashmiris are distrusted and treated poorly in many parts of India, whether as students or as traders.” (Kashmir, a prison, Dawn January 12, 2019).

International human rights law forbids a country from trampling human rights even in sovereign territories. Wolfgang Danspeck Gruber (ed.) says in the introduction of his book “The Self Determination of People”: “Sovereignty has experienced mounting challenges from increased public education about and awareness of basic human rights and global real-time information.” 

The right of a government to exert its power at home in unlimited fashion is coming under serious scrutiny. In fall 1999, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan questioned the right of any state to hide behind sovereignty while committing flagrant violations of human rights. He invoked “individual sovereignty”, namely the human rights and fundamental freedoms of each and every citizen. Annan also argued that “the state is now widely understood to be the servant of its people and not vice versa.”

Interestingly, in 1997, Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein presented a similar position in his expose “Democracy and Self-Determination”, where he argued that the state should principally offer services to its citizens. They, in turn, should have the right to “choose their states and citizenship freely in self-determination…”

India is bound to desist from human rights violations in IIOK  even under Article 42 of the Hague regulations 1907, Common Article 2 of the Geneva Conventions, Article 42-56 Geneva Convention-IV and Customary International Law.

AMJED JAAVED,

Rawalpindi.