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JahanAra Wattoo submits a white paper in House of Commons on human rights abuses in Kashmir

The issue of Kashmir and gross human rights violation by the Indian Army has echoed in the UK’s House of Commons on Thursday afternoon when JahanAra M Wattoo, a provincial leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party has highlighted gross Human rights violations by the Indian Army in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

She has also today submitted a ‘White Paper’ to the UK Government, which fully supports the Kashmiri people’s right of self-determination.

Speaking at the UK parliament she told that the Indian security forces are attacking innocent unarmed Kashmiris, who are struggling for independence with pellet guns. She also pointed out that India was governing the occupied valley through black laws.

She has quoted Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who had stated:

“The brutal occupation of Kashmir proves that had the world listened to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had the world listened to Benazir Bhutto and had the world listened to Pakistan, today world peace would be more than just a dream.”: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

The following is the text of the ‘White Paper’:

  1. Kashmir unfinished agenda of partition

The Kashmir issue has always been the main obstacle in the way of peaceful and brotherly relations between Pakistan and India. In 1947, at the time of India and Pakistan’s independence from Great Britain, Kashmir was a predominantly Muslim state under the rule of Hindu Maharaja., it was free to accede to either country.  Though he wanted to stay independent, he was convinced to join India against the wishes of the local population. Since then, India and Pakistan have fought two wars (1947-48 and 1965) over the disputed territory. Both countries have been involved in major border skirmishes, including the most recent reported incidents of the violation of the Line of Control by Indian Army.

The issue is also one of the oldest items on the agenda of the United Nations as well. For Pakistan, the Kashmir issue is not a territorial problem; rather, it is a human issue, it is an issue of self-determination, relating to more than 13 million Kashmiris. Owing to its human dimension, the issue warrants an early resolution, so that the Kashmiri people can breathe a sigh of relief.

On October 27, 1947, Indian forces invaded Kashmir in violation of the partition plan of the Subcontinent and since then Indian forces have forcefully occupied the territory and  killed more than 100,000 innocent Kashmiris and turned Kashmir-The Paradise on Earth, into one of the most militarized and dangerous zones in the world.

The State of Jammu & Kashmir was one of the 584 princely States of the Indian Sub-Continent. At the time of independence in 1947, Rulers of these states were advised by the then Viceroy to either join India or Pakistan, keeping in the wishes of their peoples and the geographical location. The Kashmiri Muslims had two strong reasons to join Pakistan: their numerical preponderance (80% of the population) and geographical contiguity. However, the Indian leaders coerced the Non-Muslim Ruler of the State to accede to India. The Kashmiri Muslims revolted, liberating a large tract of the State and established Azad (free) Government of Jammu & Kashmir. India ran to the United Nations for intervention, which rejected the Indian claim on the State and passed various resolutions, supporting the Kashmiris’ right of self-determination. The resolution of January 5, 1949 reads:

“The question of accession of the State of Jammu & Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite”.

The UN Security Council reiterated the right of self-determination of Kashmiris in various resolutions, including of 1951 and 1957, as reproduced below:-

“Observing that the Governments of India and Pakistan have accepted the provisions of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan resolutions of 13 August, 1948, and 5 January, 1949, and have reaffirmed their desire that the future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nation.

“……. the convening of a Constituent Assembly as recommended by the General Council of the “All Jammu & Kashmir National Conference” and any action that Assembly might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire State or any part thereof would not constitute a disposition of the State in accordance with the above principles”. (No: 91 – March 30, 1951)

“The final disposition of the State of Jammu & Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations”. (No: 122 – January 24, 1957)

India agreed to hold plebiscite in the State and its leaders made commitments on many occasions. However, they just wanted to gain time and were not sincere in this regard. They started talks on Kashmir whenever pressure was put on India and that again as a dilatory tactic. Pakistan and India fought three wars on the issue and in the wake of each, India promised to resolve the issue, but did nothing on the ground.

Under the Simla Pact ceasefire, the line was changed into line of control. It does not say Kashmir dispute is solved or self-determination kept on hold. A further clause of Simla agreement says – That the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between India and Pakistan . This keeps UN resolutions on Kashmir live.

In 1948, the United Nations Security Council decided that the issue of Kashmir’s future should be determined by a plebiscite. That resolution states that Pakistani forces must withdraw from the province and, upon the withdrawal, Kashmiris could decide whether to accede to India or Pakistan. UN Security Council resolutions are international law and, as this resolution has not been withdrawn, Kashmir’s future should be decided by its terms.

Kashmir’s right of self-determination and is intact, genuine and legal in the eyes of international law. There is striking resemblance between UN Resolutions of 13 August 1948 and in Text of Mountbatten’s conditional acceptance of doubtful instrument of Accession of Hari Singh.

Resolution of 13th August 1948 said that the “future status of the state shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people. The letter of Mountbatten dated 26 October says special circumstances mentioned by your Highness my Government have decided to accept the accession of Kashmir State to the Dominion of India. Consistently with their policy that in the case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question if accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State.

India always tries to drag Pakistan in different problems starting from territorial problems to terrorism. The Indian leadership had not accepted Pakistan since its creation and time and again, Indian government keeps on propagating against Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister himself confessed that Indian forces helped Mukti Bahinis in creating Bangladesh. Mukti Bahini comprised of thousands of Bengali origin military officers, soldiers and civilians that were trained by the Indian army and RAW officers in guerrilla warfare techniques. Mukti Bahini killed innocent Biharis as they were in favour of One Pakistan.

In this context, Egbert Jahn in his book, “Kashmir: Flashpoint for a Nuclear War or Even a Third

World War?” has pointed out, “The Kashmir conflict is embedded in the wider conflict over the incomplete creation of nations and states on the Indian subcontinent, which during the east-west conflict even threatened at times to escalate into a nuclear world war between Pakistan and the USA on the one side and India and the USSR on the other. Until now, there have been three wars between India and Pakistan over the Jammu and Kashmir: in 1947–49, 1965 and 1999… finally, the Indo-Chinese border war of 1962…after these wars…and could unexpectedly again lead to a regional and under certain circumstances…even a major nuclear war or a Third World War.”

2.                Human rights violations at the hands of the Indian Army

For decades, the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir have suffered persistent human rights violations at the hands of the Indian authorities and the Army. Over the years, numerous leading human rights groups like Amnesty International have been heavily critical of India. Media stories/reports are featured here.

India presents itself in international forums as a model of democracy and world’s biggest democracy but practically Indian Army is humiliating and killing the Muslims in occupied Kashmir.

Since 1947, Kashmir has often been framed as a region contested between India and Pakistan. However this framing leaves little consideration for the voices and demands of the Kashmiri people. Since 1990, India, which aggressively controls the most populous region of Kashmir, has deployed close to 700,000 armed forces there. Indian forces have been given protection under laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which  grants them effective immunity from prosecution for human rights abuses, including murder, rape, and torture. While tens of thousands of Kashmiris have been killed in the violent counterinsurgency campaigns, no serious prosecution of Indian military personnel has ever taken place.

Independent human rights organizations have confirmed the existence of over 6,000 unnamed mass graves in India-held Kashmir. On 23rd February 1991, Indian soldiers of 4 Rajputana Rifles entered Kunan Poshpora village, arrested all the men, and tortured them physically and emotionally. All the women of that village were raped irrespective of their age. According to Amnesty International, the youngest victim of this barbaric crime was a girl of 13 named Misra and the oldest victim Jana, was aged 80.

International media is now exposing the violation of human rights by Indian security forces in Kashmir. In the recent past, more than 200 Indian writers, authors, scientists, artists, filmmakers decided to return their national awards in protest to rising Hindu extremism, while more than 100 persons have returned their rewards.

A report by the International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) has identified more than 900 individuals whom it blames for a range of human rights abuses carried out by Indian security forces between 1990 and 2014. They include 150 officers of the rank of major or above. Rights groups say 150 top officers among Indian security forces accused of killings, abductions, torture and sexual violence in disputed region: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/12/indian-forces-kashmir-accused-human-rights-abuses-coverup

Human Rights Watch has demanded that the Indian authorities should credibly and impartially investigate police use of force during violent protests in Jammu and Kashmir state that have killed more than 30 people and injured hundred:

Since the killing of Burhan Wani and two other Hizb-ul-Mujahedin militants in an armed exchange with government forces on July 8, 2016, demonstrations have occurred in various parts of the state in which protesters have hurled rocks. State security forces have responded by firing pellet guns, teargas, and live ammunition.

“Rock-throwing at demonstrations is serious but does not provide police a free pass to use force against protesters,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Indian authorities need to send a clear message that lethal force is only an option when a life is at imminent risk, and those misusing force will be held accountable.”

While law enforcement officials have a duty to protect lives and property, they should use nonviolent means as far as possible, only use force when unavoidable and in a proportionate manner, and use lethal force only when absolutely necessary to save lives, Human Rights Watch said.

Wani, 22, had a large following among Muslim Kashmiris who shared his demands for secession and an end to abuses by government security forces. After his death, thousands attended his funeral. The protests started soon after, and the government ordered a curfew and blocked the Internet in some places.

The Indian Express reported that hospitals were packed with injured protesters. One ophthalmology ward said that doctors had performed nearly 100 eye surgeries on people with pellet gun injuries. Indian security forces have been using pellet guns as a nonlethal option for crowd control after nearly 120 people were killed during weeks of protests in 2010. The use of pellet guns since 2010 has reportedly resulted in at least 300 hospitalizations in Srinagar, including 16 cases in which the patient lost their sight completely.

The Indian government should publicly order the security forces to abide by the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, Human Rights Watch said. The Basic Principles state that security forces shall “apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms,” and that “whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall: (a) Exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved; (b) Minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life.” Furthermore, “intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”

The Basic Principles further provide that, “[i]n cases of death and serious injury or other grave consequences, a detailed report shall be sent promptly to the competent authorities.” The authorities should not only investigate the use of firearms that resulted in death and injury, but also the use of pellet guns, which can cause serious injury when fired at close range or at an individual’s eyes. The findings of the investigation should be public and result in appropriate disciplinary action or prosecution. Past lack of accountability for serious human rights violations has been a driving force in the protests.

Indian officials have called for restraint and calm by all sides. Security forces have said that they are exercising restraint to disperse protesters. They reported that 110 security personnel have also been injured in the protests and that one police official drowned when protesters pushed his vehicle into a river. Protest organizers should take steps to deter supporters from engaging in violence, including attacks on law enforcement officers, Human Rights Watch said.

“A major grievance of those protesting in Kashmir is the failure of authorities to respect basic human rights,” Ganguly said. “Ensuring that rights are protected and prosecuting those responsible for abuses would be an important first step.”

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/07/12/india-investigate-use-lethal-force-kashmir

On the contrary India has rejected UNHRC request to visit Kashmir to probe mass human rights abuses.

Human rights violations in India-held Kashmir are not an internal matter of the Indian state, said Iyad Amin Madani, secretary-general of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The head of the world’s largest bloc of Muslim countries has expressed concern over human rights violations in India-held Kashmir, which has seen weeks of deadly clashes between Muslim protesters and police.

Madani said that the situation in Kashmir was deteriorating and urged the international community to act, saying the situation should be resolved at the political level.

“The international community should raise its voice against the atrocities in India-held Kashmir.

“Unfortunately, very few voices have come out against Indian tyranny,” said Madani.

“The situation in Kashmir is heading towards a referendum. No one should be afraid of a referendum and the solution should be through the United Nations resolutions in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. The human rights violations in India-held Kashmir are not internal matter of the Indian state.”

The secretary general said the OIC is eager that the Kashmir issue is resolved and fully supports Pakistan. “The OIC has a dedicated special advisor on Kashmir and a liaison group that will meet at the UN General Assembly session in the United States.”

“Just statements alone are not enough when it comes to occupied Kashmir but the issue cannot be raised at the political level with silence.”

http://www.dawn.com/news/1278824

In April 2016, a US report stated “There were few investigations and prosecutions of human rights violations arising from internal conflicts.”  The abuses range from mass killings, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. Nothing has been done about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which is used to kill innocent civilians without trial or judgment. India cannot continue to hide behind the AFSPA anymore. Thousands of lives have been lost.

Civilians are brutally punished if they are seen to challenge or campaign against the oppressive occupation. Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India has taken to shutting off internet services intermittently, so that civilians cannot communicate with the outside world.

In September 2016, after the death of more than 90 Kashmiri civilians and thousands more injured, the UN human rights chief has said that a probe into the atrocities has become necessary. Speaking at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), he said that due to conflicting reports from both sides of the line of control there has to be an “independent, impartial and international” mission that has “free and complete access”.

It is for all these reasons that India must be held accountable for these human rights violations. Civilians have suffered since the 1990s without any assistance from international bodies. We would therefore like the Human Rights Council to take account of the evidence with a view to mounting an investigation into the serious oppression and human rights violations suffered by the people of Kashmir.

In its 34th session of the National Assembly, Pakistan’s parliament has unanimously passed a resolution, condemning the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir and demanding the UN Human Rights Commission to send a fact finding mission to the Valley to investigate it.

On the contrary India has rejected UNHRC request to visit Kashmir to probe gross human rights violations by Indian forces.

I am submitting this white paper in solidarity with the people of Kashmir who have been living under one of the densest military occupations in the world, where for every 15 Kashmiri civilians there is an armed Indian soldier. Me and my party express support for the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination by highlighting and opposing the repression of political dissent in Kashmir through military violence and illegal detentions. We centrally demand the release of all Kashmiri political prisoners – including leaders of the resistance kept under illegal indefinite house arrest and hundreds of children and teenagers detained under brutal conditions – and an end to the state culture of harassment and intimidation through spurious court cases against peaceful political dissenters.

The movement for Kashmiri self-determination and liberation from the Indian military occupation has overwhelmingly expressed itself via peaceful protests and vigorous mass mobilizations since 2008. The Indian government has responded to this renewed struggle through brutal killings, debilitating injuries (including the use of pellet guns and empty tear-gas canisters to blind and maim), and mass detentions of Kashmiris. Under harsh laws like Public Safety Act (PSA), state authorities have imprisoned thousands of Kashmiri youth and activists. Over 5,000 Kashmiris were arrested in the summer of 2008 alone. Since then, more than 15,000 Kashmiris have spent some time in prison at one point or the other. Amnesty International has called PSA a ‘lawless law,’ under which Kashmiris are arrested through executive orders without charge or trial. Even when some Kashmiri prisoners are released over time, the government keeps most of these cases open specifically for punitive and preëmptive purposes – using them to re-arrest activists, especially before publicly announced civil society demonstrations, and to extract monetary bribes and “espionage work” via threats and torture.

Moreover, Pakistani security forces recently arrested a serving Indian Naval Officer who confessed that RAW is promoting terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi.

The following figures tell the story of widespread human rights violations in Kashmir during 2016 by Indian security forces: 

  1. 7000 arrested, 600 under draconian Public Safety Act.
  2. 92 civilians mostly youth dead in four months.
  3. Continues shutdown since 110 days, second longest in Human History
  4. 13000 civilian injured.
  5. 1000 eyes damaged by pellet gun
  6. 100 complete blind by pellets
  7. No Friday prayers in many mosques since 17 Fridays
  8. Schools closed since four months
  9. All resistance leadership arrested
  10. Daily newspaper English kashmir reader banned
  11. Mobile internet banned since four months
  12. Hundreds Government employees terminated from services for participation in Pro freedom activities.
  13. World known human rights defender Khurram Parvez too arrested under PSA

3.           PPP and Kashmir

“Much of the ensuing hostility in the subcontinent is due to the festering dispute of Kashmir,”: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has traced South Asia’s dangerous descent into conflict and instability to the festering dispute of Kashmir. The PPP has always  been the emissary of the Kashmiris’ struggle for independence and self determination and has always expressed solidarity with them and highlighted Indian atrocities at the international level.

On different forums; national and international he has been asserted the UN’s demand for “a referendum must be held to decide the fate of Kashmir.”

The PPP leadership has never compromised and wavered from its principled stand on the issue of Kashmir.

Earlier her mother Benazir Bhutto, the first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim world had also always maintained close contact with the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference and during her meetings with them in her exile days extended full support to the Kashmir cause. She not only raised a voice for the Kashmiris but also kept the independence movement of Kashmir alive.

As the Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto during her first stint of premiership way back on 5th February1990, she had declared the 5th of February – as a Day of Solidarity with the Kashmiri people by ever since Kashmir solidarity day is observed every year on 5th of February throughout Pakistan and in all over the world.

During a press conference in New Delhi in 2001, Benazir Bhutto announced that the PPP’s policy is that is the sole representative of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. And during her visit to Delhi in 2003, she demanded the Kashmir issue be resolved according to UN resolutions.

“I believe that the Jammu and Kashmir issue is the main obstacle in the way of better relations between our two countries and that its solution must be based on the aspirations and legitimate rights of the Kashmiri people. Kashmir has a special importance and symbolism for Pakistan and its people. We believe that such disputes must be settled through peaceful negotiations”. – Benazir Bhutto

The historical speech of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the UN is the hallmark of the Kashmiris’ struggle for self determination. ZAB gave a strike call on February 5 against Indian Occupation in Kashmir.

In 1972, the Simla Agreement was signed in Simla, India, by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the President of Pakistan, and Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India.

  1. Plebiscite only solution

Plebiscite under auspices of the United Nations is the only solution to the long standing Kashmir dispute. Now, even the Indian intellectuals are accusing Indian authorities and asking their government that the movement inside Kashmir was indigenous and Kashmiris are proving from their struggle that the movement is not being fought on behest of someone, in India political parties, civil society organizations have recently protested on recent brutalities in Kashmir.

Kashmir is divided by a Line of Control (LOC) established by the Simla Agreement in 1972 when both sides agreed to respect its course until a final negotiated solution could be found. But India has done nothing to resolve the issue in the last 44 years; rather it has rebuffed all the overtures made by Pakistan to this effect. Moreover, the Agreement neither alters the disputed status of Kashmir nor precludes the role of the United Nations, as explained below:-

Para 1 (i) of the Agreement – states that the UN Charter shall govern relations between the parties.

Para 1 (ii) – does not exclude the UN for a peaceful settlement.

Para 1 (iv) – refers to the Kashmir issue as the basic issue and cause of conflict between the two nations.

Para 5 (ii) – protects the recognized positions of both Pakistan and India and differentiates the “Line of Control” from the international borders.

Para 7 – describes the Kashmir dispute as one of the outstanding issues.

Articles 34 and 35 of the UN Charter – empower the Security Council to investigate any dispute, without subservience to any bilateral agreement.

Article 103 – obligations under the Charter take precedence over obligations under a bilateral agreement.

Pakistan has been always ready for meaningful talks on Kashmir issue but it is India which always backtracked from talks, it usually make devious statements to hoodwink the international community. Some time the Indian leaders accuse Kashmiris of terrorism but, reality is totally opposite and in fact, the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and other UN declarations permit people to fight for their right of self-determination. Therefore, the freedom movement of Kashmiris can’t be dubbed as terrorism. As far as the allegation of the cross border terrorism is concerned, Pakistan has repeatedly proposed to enhance the role of the UN Observers on the Line of Control (LOC), but India didn’t agree.

Independence is the fundamental right of every person and Kashmiris do not want to live under the occupation of Indian army. They raise Pakistani flags during protest and rallies which is manifestation of their aspirations.

The struggle of Kashmiri people may seem to be long but the day is not far when they will be free from the cages of slavery and Kashmir Issue will be resolved as per aspirations of Kashmiris. This will also bring lasting peace in the region. The issue is on the UN agenda.

The world community should also recognize and admit its responsibility under the UN Charter to resolve the Kashmir issue. If the UN resolutions on Iraq, Kosovo and East Timor can be implemented, why not the resolutions on Kashmir?

The Kashmiris have been demanding the right for self determination as mandated by the United Nations resolutions. There appears to be a dictatorship as opposed to a democracy at present. The Indian government continues to suppress the freedoms of opposition parties.

Kashmiris have consistently called upon international agencies to press for a democratic solution to the Kashmir question, a solution that would allow Kashmiris the primary role in deciding their political future – as also promised in various UN Resolutions.

Moreover, there are many Kashmiris who have been languishing in Indian jails over several years, some without trial — an overwhelming majority of whom are denied a fair chance to defend themselves in court.

We are urging the world community to play its role in the resolution of the long standing dispute on the UN agenda. The world community should not ignore the plight of the Kashmiris, who are struggling for their right to self determination. It should come forward and stop the injustice meted out to them at the hands of the Indians authority and the Indian Army.

“The brutal occupation of Kashmir proves that had the world listened to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had the world listened to Benazir Bhutto and had the world listened to Pakistan, today world peace would be more than just a dream.”: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

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