Kashmir Burns Once Again, People Victims of Worst Indian Terrorism

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Statement by Sardar Mohammad Masood Khan

Sardar Mohammad Masood Khan is the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He spoke at the joint session of the Legislative Assembly and Jammu and Kashmir Council.

Muzaffarabad:

First of all I thank Allah Almighty who, as a result of the sacrifices given by the people of this area and the leadership of our founding fathers, have given us this free land called Azad Jammu and Kashmir. This land was established in its present form with an elaborate state apparatus to serve as the launching pad for the cause of Jammu and Kashmir and to accomplish the unfinished business of the realization of their right to self-determination.

I thank the Legislative Assembly and the Jammu and Kashmir Council for electing me the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. It is therefore a privilege for me to address the two august houses on a pressing and tragic issue of our times. In fact, freedom of Kashmir is an existential issue for our state.

Today, as we gather here, Kashmir is burning once again. Once again the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir are victims of worst form Indian terrorism. IOK is passing through one of its worst crises in history. Kashmiris, young and old, men and women, in their own land are being killed, maimed, blinded, tortured, and hounded by the occupying forces. In IOK peaceful demonstrations are a crime, political meetings are banned, true Kashmiri leaders have been incarcerated. Free speech is a crime, movement is a crime, voicing aspirations for the right to self-determination is felony and treason. There is a gag order for the whole of Kashmir, with mobile telephony and Internet blackouts in place. Indian occupation forces in the territory hunt down innocent citizens in pursuit of illicit, draconian, black laws. Since July 8, when young Burhan Wani was martyred, more than 90 people have been mowed down mercilessly, more than a hundred have lost their eyesight, and up to 10,000 are injured. With beaten and broken bodies, Kashmiris ask: where is justice? Where is the international community? Where is the world conscience?

Masood Khan.
Sardar Mohammad Masood Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

India’s narrative on the situation in Kashmir is false and fabricated. There is no terrorism from the people of Kashmir going on in IOK. The only terrorism is being perpetrated by Indian occupation forces. There is a legitimate demand for the right to self-determination. Let me quote Martin Luther King who said: “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” Kashmiris are today’s Hungarians.

We condemn all the dastardly crimes in IOK committed by India and call on the international community to hold India accountable for them.

Let this be stated as self-evident truth that the right to self determination is the inherent and inalienable right recognized as jus cogens in International law. It is enshrined in Article 1 on the UN Charter and further elaborated in common Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights. The Article states: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” In is also accepted in the opinions of the International Court of Justice and incorporated in the doctrine and practice of international law.

The right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir was embedded in the Indian Independence Act of 1947 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. So far, this right thus acquired has been neither exercised nor renounced. The so-called accession by the Mahrajah remains void and invalid. The United Nations Security Council, through a series of resolutions from 1948 to 1957, explicitly recognized the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir by prescribing that the “future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people”“through the democratic method of free and impartial plebiscite” to be conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. The subsequent steps by India to perpetuate its occupation, including insertion of Article 370 in its Constitution or periodic unrepresentative elections, neither subvert nor substitute the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. This was also the ruling of the UN Security Council Resolutions 91 and 122, which categorically stated that any action by the so-called Constituent Assembly or any elections in IOK would not constitute an expression of the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir through free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices. The right to self-determination and the mandate to execute through a plebiscite remains as alive today as it was in 1947. Let there be no doubt on this count. Let this message go to friends and foes alike.

Over the decades and since July 2016, India has contravened the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the UN Charter, the two Covenants, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which cumulatively uphold the right to life and the right to security of the person.

In addition, India is guilty of flagrantly violating international human rights law. International humanitarian law is applicable to all international and non-international armed conflicts. India, as an occupying power in the territory of IOK, is flouting all four Geneva conventions, specifically their common Article 3 which explicitly prohibits “Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; taking hostages; and outrages upon personal dignity.” Even if there was any a state of armed resistance in IOK, India was bound by the laws of war which posit the fundamental principles of distinction between combatants and non-combatants, proportionality and precaution. India is in breach of all these principles.

I do not say it lightly that the military campaigns of Indian occupying forces in IOK constitute crimes against humanity; and the frequent mass killings as well as “destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity” form a pattern of genocide.

We reject India’s false claim that IOK is an integral part of India. It never was and it never will be, I believe, because of the policy of brutalization that they are following there. The Jammu and Kashmir issue is unfinished agenda of the partition of Pakistan and India. Freedom is the aspiration of the people of Kashmir passing from generation to generation. This flame would not be quenched by Indian brutalities.

We repudiate India’s propaganda and lies suggesting that Kashmir is wracked by terrorism by Kashmiris backed by Pakistan. Yes, there is terrorism in IOK but the one planned and executed by India’s occupation forces. Such propaganda will not hide India’s abhorrent crimes.

Make no mistake. India is solely responsible for the brutalization of Kashmir. The UN has been ready for a plebiscite. Pakistan is ready for plebiscite; and the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been ready for exercising their will. India was not and is not prepared to take that both initial and final step.

We express our deep dismay at the lukewarm response of the international community to the recent killings and acts of persecution and gross and consistent violations of human rights. The reactions that have come forth are laced with expediency and driven by realpolitik. Major powers are prone to appeasing India to advance their own strategic and economic interests. At best they are doing a fine balancing act between India and Pakistan that emboldens India in its impunity.

On this day, I want to remember our founding fathers – Ghazi-i-Millat Sardar Mohammad Ibrahim Khan, the founding president; Raees-ul-Ahrar Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, Mujahid-i-Awwal Sardar Mohammad Abdul Qayyum Khan, and Khushid-i-Millat K.H.Khurshid – who designed and shaped the edifice of our state. I also pay tribute to our Kashmiri leaders – Syed Ali Shah Gilani, Mir Waiz Umer Farooq, Shabir Shah and Yasin Malik, who along with their associates are bearing the brunt of Indian persecution and yet holding the emblem of liberty high.

We are thankful to Pakistan which has remained steadfast on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute despite intimidation and blandishments. One part of its state was brutally severed as an act of chastisement by the enemy and threats were hurled against it to finish it off. But the valiant people of Pakistan stood their ground and developed a credible nuclear deterrent capability. Today India cannot think of attacking Pakistan but it sends spies, agents provocateurs, moles and terrorists to Pakistan to pulverize it from within. India will not succeed in its malicious designs because Pakistan is ready to counter the whole array of threats.

We are grateful to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, for his principled and robust stand on Kashmir in the wake of recent killings and in the United Nations in the past three years. The Prime Minister has written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take action in regard to the deteriorating situation in IOK. We also welcome the decision of the Prime Minister to send special parliamentary envoys to key capitals to highlight the plight of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the issue itself.

We thank the armed forces of Pakistan who have ensured security of Azad Kashmir. We feel pride in the fact that jawans from Azad Kashmir are part of Pakistan Armed Forces and some of the officers from our area have reached the highest ranks. We also congratulate the armed forces on the success of the Zarb-i-Azb Operation.

The people of IOK are facing murders, extermination and enslavement; but the people of Azad Kashmir are free; and Pakistan is a strong state. In the weeks and months to come, we will use all the ingenuity to raise the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at the international level.

Let me mention some of the actions that we would take.

One, as we go along, we will forge unity in Azad Kashmir. We will close our ranks because our goals are the same. The cause of Kashmir transcends all other priorities.

Two, we will increase the number of allies in our struggle. In our quest, we will leverage the strengths of our staunchest ally, Pakistan, which has been the most ardent advocate of the rights of Kashmiris and has a vast and sophisticated diplomatic network in place. Where necessary, we will give the necessary counsel to Pakistan for making its outreach on Kashmir more effective.

Three, we shall go the United Nations and all its organs and bodies, especially the Security Council, the General Assembly and Human Rights Council to seek justice for the people of Kashmiris. We will do so in the form of communications, visits and meetings.

Four, we believe that the response of the UN to the recent killings and atrocities in IOK is inadequate . We welcome the offer of the Secretary General to use his good offices on Kashmir, but we request him to start his diplomacy without waiting for the concurrence of India. He should in fact appoint a Special Representative on Kashmir who should regularly monitor the situation and prepare for the plebiscite.

Five, we call on the UN Office of Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs, UNHCR and ICRC to establish a humanitarian corridor in IOK to give assistance to the trapped Kashmiris.

Six, we are beholden to the 56-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation for its consistent support to the Kashmiris right to self-determination. We would cultivate it more closely.

Seven, we will use the growing influence of the Kashmiri and Pakistani diaspora communities in North America, Europe and the Gulf region to muster support for our cause so that they on real time basis reach our to their interlocutors in governments, parliaments, think tanks, universities and other opinion making bodies.

Eight, we are approaching national, regional and international media and think tanks to project our stance.

Nine, we demand that bilateral talks be not allowed to be used by India as a hoax and a mirage. We demand structured, substantive, sustained, result-oriented and comprehensive talks on Kashmir. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute should not be buried in a cluttered agenda.

Ten, our demands from India to:

  1. Stop forthwith the use of pellet guns or other lethal substitutes targeting civilians;
  2. Abrogate immediately the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and other draconian laws which has have called by known Indian jurists and judges as “a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handed mess.”
  3. Stop forthwith human rights abuses including mass killings, enforced disappearance, illegal detentions, torture, rapes and sexual molestation.
  4. Withdraw the bulk of its forces from IOK which have unleashed a reign of terror on its residents.

The question in the minds of the the people of Jammu and Kashmir is whether we will succeed. What we can say at this stage is that we will do our best, spare no effort, and keep moving. Let’s pray that Allah will crown our mission with fulfillment.

Statement by Sardar Mohammad Masood Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, at the joint session of Legislative Assembly and Jammu and Kashmir Council

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