Published On: Mon, Sep 4th, 2017

Conferences & Kashmir – Dubai

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nazir-gilani

Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani

Dialogue is the age old instrument used by all civilizations to settle disputes. It can’t be absented from Kashmir, which involves a dispute of two respective sovereign claims of India and Pakistan and the title of the people to self-determination. The dispute is between India and Pakistan, while as the people of Jammu and Kashmir, are contesting their title to self-determination.

An industry of benefit, involving non Kashmiris, people with remote interest and no immediacy in Kashmir tragedy, another section from amongst the people of Kashmir at all levels, have emerged with a pain for Kashmir. In fact these people are the pain in the neck for all of us who have a direct and immediate stake in Kashmir. We need to save the people of Kashmir from this secondary victimization. Every season after 1990 has seen its own characters. Politics and peace are the new brands that sell for a gainful engagement. The visitors to Geneva, Washington and London, from Srinagar both Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits during early 1990s and late 1990s have all evaporated in thin air. They seem to have resolved the dispute, or have reached the limits of their mandate.

People from everywhere and with no study or training of peace initiatives and of dialogue, turn up at these conferences to solve Kashmir issue for India and Pakistan. Sponsored by Government of India, Government of Pakistan or any other government, throughcredible NGOs, all that these people do during their stay in a hotel is to add a new confusion to a settled procedure on the settlement of Kashmir case. A similar confusion has been added to Kashmir dispute at a three day conference held from 31 July to 2 August 2017, organized by a UK based NGO Conciliation Resources and a group called Kashmir Initiative Group in Dubai. The first and foremost question is do we necessarily need to travel all the way to Dubai to solve Kashmir for India and Pakistan or seek relief for the people of Kashmir? The answer is no.

Do elected members of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, under oath to “uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India” andmembers of Azad Kashmir Assembly, under oath to “remain loyal to the cause of accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan”, journalists, civil society people from both sides of the cease fire line, need to by-pass an agreed UN mechanism on the resolution of Kashmir dispute?

What would be the legal merit of any proposal forwarded by a few people as against a proposal agreed under the UN Charter and owned by 194 countries, including India and Pakistan? Kashmiris, whose professional or other business interests are governed by Indian laws and favour, do not carry a convincing merit when we see them pushing different proposals, which are at variance to UN mechanism on Kashmir?

Members of Azad Kashmir Assembly do not own the accession with India. They subscribe their faith in the resolution of the dispute through a free and fair plebiscite as envisaged in UNCIP Resolutions and other UN Security Council Resolutions. There is a criticism of oath taken by these members of Azad Kashmir Assembly. It is a badly drafted oath and done for self-serving politics by local politicians, to appear more Pakistanis, than those who wrap themselves in Pakistani flags on the streets of Valley and are killed. Pakistan has a strong constituency in Kashmir. Article 257 of the Constitution of Pakistan would take effect, only when a UN supervised plebiscite takes place.

While as the members of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly remain under oath that “The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India”. Members of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly contest that the accession of J & K was limited only to the areas of Defence, External Affairs and Communication. The limit in their demand is the rehabilitation of internal autonomy. Indian Government for the last 17 years, has not given any importance to “The Report of the State Autonomy Committee” published in July 2000. Therefore, members of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, who have no nerve to stand for the dignity of their report, would hardly cut any ice with New Delhi, in pushing any proposal agreed at Dubai type conferences.

Such mismatch of oaths of assembly members from both sides and the habitat of interests of other participants fail to convince of any merit. Kashmir is not free for all. Every Kashmiri who is a State Subject, or has a direct and immediate interest in the people and habitat, needs to be watchful. We need to see that sufferings do not lose meaning at such conferences and NGOs like Conciliation Resources and Kashmir Initiative Group do not wrong our case by misdirecting their wisdom. It necessitates that we exercise our right to interference and disagree, if required in the interests of our case. We need to make our input and question them.

French representative at the 539th meeting of the UN Security Council held on 30 March 1951 has summarised the resolution of the Kashmir dispute as follows:

“The fact remains that the holding of a really just and impartial plebiscite – such as the two parties expressly wanted it to be and have undertaken to see that it should be, so far as it is in their power to do so – requires a previous fulfilment of one condition. That is that the territory, the inhabitants of which are called upon to vote, should be freed from any improper influence, such as that inevitably involved in the presence of occupation troops from outside belonging to one or other of the parties concerned. The plebiscite must therefore be preceded by the demilitarization of Jammu and Kashmir. It is surely not an impossible task – it should not even be a very difficult task -to draw up an equitable plan of demilitarization in accordance with the principles already accepted by the parties concerned. And two parties of good faith – and we do not doubt the good faith of the parties in this case, should be able to agree on such a plan of demilitarization.”

Dubai Conference has by passed the pending UN mechanism on Kashmir and has ignored the relief immediately needed by the common people. It came out with a consensus to “end militancy” and later revised it with to “end hostilities”. We have a UN brokered and an UNMOGIP supervised cease fire line since (LOC) 1949. It should be left to respective complaints filed by India and Pakistan with UNMOGIP rather than assigning the role to participants, who exist as long as the NGO is able to arrange their air ticket and stay in a hotel. Someone somewhere has an interest to land these participants in Dubai to discuss Kashmir at a time when death, arrest, disappearance and imprisonment has visited almost every house in the Valley. We have individuals who have committed serious crimes against the people.

I do not want to debate any further, except to point out that an array of opinions have genuinely surfaced in regard to Dubai conference. Author was the first person to express a dissent. It was followed by Hizb Chief Syed Salah Uddin, Hurriyat Chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a young dedicated Kashmiri journalist Athar Masood Wani from Islamabad and captured the interest of social media and other print media. The working journalists who participated in the Conference, did not report the views, but volunteered to clean the sludge of the Conference.

We need to encourage a dialogue between India and Pakistan. However, we need to keep our focus on the right to life and right to full regime of human rights in Kashmir, which includes a respectful reminder to India and Pakistan and the UN to arrange a UN supervised referendum in Kashmir. Friends of India and Pakistan and friends of the people of Kashmir, need to take the Kashmir issue, from the point where it has been left.

There is a need to carry forward all pieces of work done for peace between India and Pakistan and on the right of self-determination. Peace efforts started at the UN Annual Conference on “Regional Conflicts: Threats to World Peace and Progress” held at UN headquarters from 9-11 September 1992, at Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – CHOGM-93 held in Cyprus from 21-25 October 1993, at “The Third Global Structures Convocation on “Human Rights, Global Governance and Strengthening the United Nations” in Washington in February 1994, at the international seminar, “Next Step In Jammu and Kashmir : Give Peace A Chance” jointly organised byThe International Centre For Peace Initiatives, New Delhi and Institute of Regional Studies, Pakistan on November 25-26, 2000, in Gurgaon, Haryana, India, at thetwo day conference on “Jammu and Kashmir: Alternative Futures” organised by Institute for Conflict Management (ICM) from 18-19 May 2006 at Heritage Village Resort, Manesar, Gurgaon, Delhi.
These peace efforts should be fair, inclusive and without any hint of seeking a substitute for Hurriyat in the Valley. “Next Step In Jammu and Kashmir : Give Peace A Chance” jointly organised byThe International Centre For Peace Initiatives, New Delhi and Institute of Regional Studies, Pakistan on November 25-26, 2000, in Gurgaon, Haryana remains a lead example on substance and inclusiveness.

The dignity and equity of the conference, hit a convincing height when Prime Minister of India agreed to announce a major CBM and announced a unilateral cease fire on 19 November 2000. Hurriyat participated in the Conference and there was no hint of any foul play.

We should not play Iago with the sufferings of the people and need to remember that all those in power, or their sales agents, who accepted to distance from UN mechanism on Kashmir, had to suffer humiliation. We should not sell our souls to the Lucifer but try hard to act in accordance with the jurisprudence of Kashmir case. One does not turn into a Kashmir expert by attending a conference on either side of LOC or by writing a column.

You have to have an immediacy of interest in Kashmir, directness of purpose and a reliable understanding of the case. We need to support every peace effort, making sure that we remain focused on the rights movement of the people. We should not fall behind but exercise our right to interfere and question everything that impacts our today and tomorrow. Kashmir should not be used as a collateral for your business and interest.

The author is the President of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. He is on UN Register as an Expert in Peace Keeping, Humanitarian Operations and Election Monitoring Missions. Author could be reached at dr-nazirgilani@jkchr.com

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