MIRPUR (AJK)-Speakers at a seminar expressed serious concerns over the political and human rights situation in Indian-Held Kashmir, and stressed early settlement of the Kashmir dispute through grant of right to self-determination.

The seminar titled “Freedom Struggle vs Terrorism” was organised by Kashmir Institute of International Relations [KIIR] and attended among others by Kashmiri leaders hailing from both sides of the Line of Control including.

During interactive session, the panelists discussed the prevailing political and human rights situation in Kashmir with special reference to the changes sweeping across the region. Urging the international community to discharge its legal and moral obligations vis-à-vis the peaceful settlement of Kashmir dispute, the panelists said that world community must shun its policy of indifference and play a active role to settle the long-pending dispute. It happens to be the bone of contention between the two nuclear neighbors India and Pakistan, they said.

They said that Kashmiris have been fighting for their legitimate right guaranteed by the United Nations. Terming Kashmiris’ decades’ long struggle legitimate and indigenous freedom movement, they said that it was incumbent upon the world community to differentiate between legitimate freedom struggle and terrorist movements.

They said that Kashmiri issue is primarily a political dispute about the right of self-determination of the millions of Kashmiris. They observed that the globally accepted right to self determination happens to be the cardinal principle of the United Nations Charter.

The principle deemed as essence of the charter, they said, has been applied countless times to settle international disputes. Citing Indian rulers’ commitments, they said that it was India that took the issue of Kashmir to the United Nations. “History bears testimony to the fact that India after agreeing to hold plebiscite in Kashmir backtracked from his earlier commitments,” they said. They added that instead of paving a way for peaceful settlement of Kashmir, India has been conducting systematic, deliberate and targeted attacks on civilian population to break the will of Kashmiris who have lost generations after generations in fighting a battle against the occupying power.

“India’s direct and deliberate attacks on the Kashmiris civilian population and properties constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian and human rights law,” they said. They added that every word and every sentence of the UN Charter and Geneva Convention was being violated by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir by unleashing reign of terror. Kashmiris, they said, were the worst victims of state terrorism and systematic state sponsored terrorism. Citing the simmering situation in Kashmir, they said that India has turned the entire Kashmir valley into a virtual prison by imposing restrictions on the media and the movement of the people in the region.

They said that India which claims to be the world’s largest democracy has usurped the fundamental rights of Kashmiris and the legal status of Indian army in the disputed territory. In order to kill the voice of dissent in the region they said that occupation forces have wreaked havoc in the region by killing and blinding innocent protesters. “India has always tried to terrorise the peaceful struggle of Kashmiris,” they said.

India in collaboration with its allies was trying to malign Kashmiris’ freedom movement by labelling Kashmiri freedom fighters as terrorist, they noted. They said that there was dire need to counter India’s narrative at international level. “The Indian narrative is based on deceit and deception whereas Kashmiri people are engaged in the just and legitimate struggle, which is accepted and acknowledged by the international community as well as the governments of India and Pakistan”.

Present on the occasion were Sardar Amjad Yousuf, the director of KIIR, APHC leaders Altaf Hussain Wani, Kashmiri journalist Maqsood Muntazir, Lateef Ahmed Dar, Sheikh Badruddin Tahir, Shaista Safi, Sidra and Dr Kousar Ali.