The panel discussion on “Kashmir Day: Standing in Solidarity with the People of Jammu and Kashmir” was conducted on February 05, 2022 at Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR). The discussion deliberated upon the Kashmir issue, the unprecedented human rights violations and the options that Pakistan has in hand. The partition of the sub-continent in 1947 left the Kashmir issue as the unfinished agenda of the partition of British India. The dispute over Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) is now a matter of human rights violations threat to the regional peace and security. The tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated since India’s unilateral action of revoking Kashmir’s special status on August 5th, 2019.
Opening Remarks: Ms. Amna Munawar Awan (President, Center of Pakistan and International Relations)
Since the partition of British India, the resolution of Kashmir issue remains an unfinished agenda and the same has been a defining factor in the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. Kashmir is central to any peace and conflict situation between the two South Asian nuclear rivals due to geo-political and socio-economic dimensions. Tension between India and Pakistan has grown more perilous since India’s action of scrapping the autonomous status for Occupied Kashmir enshrined in Article 370 of (India’s) Constitution. A new wave of suppression was unleased in the runup as India imposed a curfew in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and deployed thousands of the troops in the valley. Human Rights violations are continually committed by Indian forces in Kashmir; non-combatant civilians and political leaders have been detained with charge, public meetings are banned, thousands of the security check posts have been established, and a communication blackout has been enforced. The current wave of indigenous uprising in Indian Occupied Kashmir against India’s forceful occupation and brutal treatment of Kashmiris not only reflect their resolve and determination to achieve the right to self-determination as promised by the UN Security Council.
Remarks by Lt. Gen. Naeem Khalid Lodhi (Former Defense Minister & Defense Secretary, Pakistan)
Gen. Naeem Lodhi started his remarks by troughing light on the Kashmir issue. He stated that the BJP government has unleashed a brutal wave in Occupied Kashmir. The Narendra Modi government imposed a communications blackout and a curfew post August 2019 move. He referred to the deteriorating situation in the valley after the Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi unilaterally stripped the region of its constitutional autonomy. He reiterated continued moral, political, and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their struggle for the right to self-determination against the state sponsored repression unleashed by the Indian security forces that is prevalent since several decades. He mentioned that India has engaged Pakistan in a low intensity conflict through the use of proxies and hostile elements that are creating instability in Balochistan particularly. He stressed that a UN supervised population census should be conducted in Jammu and Kashmir and Azad Jammu and Kashmir to uphold the status of Kashmiris as a Muslim majority state. He also called for an inclusive approach based on politics, diplomacy, military, economy, and lawfare for fruitful outcomes of Pakistan’s policy vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue.
Remarks by Dr. Saif ur Rehman Malik (Director India Study Center, Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, Pakistan)
Dr. Saif ur Rehman Malik highlighted that India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019 were in grave violation of the international obligations, UN resolutions, and bilateral arrangements between Pakistan and India. He drew attention towards strengthening efforts for highlighting the grave human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. He stated that the world needs to sensitize the world of the atrocities being committed by the Indian security forces. There is a need to synergize efforts for forcing India to repeal the repressive laws, investigating and accountability of the war crimes being committed. He stressed that the world must stop Modi’s government from the sponsoring the violence directed against the people of Kashmir. The world must stand for providing the inherent right of self-determination to the Kashmiris which is their legal and moral right as promised under the UNSC resolutions.
Remarks by Dr. Mujeeb Afzal (Assistant Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, QAU, Islamabad)
Dr. Mujeeb Afzal highlighted the realities of Hindu nationalism and its impacts on Kashmir and the region. India has been in a delusional state of misinterpreting its capabilities. He stated that two major concepts have been adding to India’s perpetual struggle to modernize itself; One is All India and Hindutva. India has been eyeing its security as a region. It has been focusing on the regional security vis a vis its security. The Hindutva view of Hindu Rashtra which is masculine in nature because it demands power projection. A hierarchical communal structure is another phenomenon in which Hindu community is placed at the top. Due to the reasons aforementioned, India has been in a delusional state to dilute the special status of Kashmir since 1952. Almost 12 amendments were made in the past apart from the revocation of Article 370. For the Hindu nationalists, Article 370 was anti-nationalist, part of the Muslim appeasement for the vote bank. The August 2019 move was a humiliation of the people of Kashmir. The statehood was dissolved by merging Kashmir with India. The Muslim majority state is now an Indian colony where through the abrogation of Article 35A, demographic change is being enforced. Indians are grabbing lands for future businesses. For the region, the world view of Hindutva combined with Ajit Doval’s doctrine has been ravaging havoc by interfering in the internal matters of the regional states, supporting terrorism and the use of proxies. He stated that the separate identity of the Muslims in Kashmir cannot be destroyed and any such attempt would have grave consequences for the Modi government.
Remarks by Ms. Reema Shaukat (Communication Strategist at the Institute of Regional Studies, Islamabad)
Ms. Reema expressed her views on the role of women in the freedom movement of Kashmir. While paying tribute to the Kashmiri women, she stated that they have made immense sacrifices and paid a heavy price in the decades-old Kashmir conflict. History is witness to such women who stood shoulder to shoulder in the face of the oppression. Kashmiri women are a victim of mass torture and rapes. Due to forced disappearances of the Kashmiri men, the concept of half widows has emerged in Kashmir which is unprecedented. However, the Kashmiri women have stood upright and have brought forth valiant men like Burhan Wani who fight against the oppressive forces. Ms. Reema stated that the Kashmir issue should become a human rights issue. There is a need to sensitize the world. We need to become the voice for Kashmir because it is the jugular vein of Pakistan. There is a need for a partial plebiscite in the region. Media should also play its important role and mitigate the western propaganda that favors Modi’s suppressive policies.
In concluding remarks, Syed Mushahid Hussain Naqvi stated that the effectiveness of our Kashmir policy must be judged by its results and only clarity and consistency about our strategic goals and policies in dealing with India and Kashmir to transcend our narratives to reality. Pakistan’s position over Kashmir must be grounded in realpolitik, excessive reliance on moral and legal arguments of our Kashmir case to the neglect of the demands of realpolitik. Therefore, it is imperative for our legal and moral arguments to be supported by sufficient national power so as to persuade India to subdue its coercion in Kashmir.
- There is a need for an inclusive approach based on politics, diplomacy, military, economy, and lawfare for fruitful outcomes of Pakistan’s policy vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue.
- The world must stand for providing the inherent right of self-determination to the Kashmiris which is their legal and moral right as promised under the UNSC resolutions.
- Pakistan’s position over Kashmir must be grounded in realpolitik, excessive reliance on moral and legal arguments of our Kashmir case.
- Aggressive diplomacy needs to be pursued to gain the support of international community. Delegations comprising members of all political parties should be sent to key capitals to highlight the grave situation in IIOK and also present Pakistan’s position. This will signal unanimous domestic political support in Pakistan to the issue of Kashmir.
- Pakistan should go extra mile in mobilizing Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora in the U.S.
- to honor the freedom struggle of Kashmiris, defend their right to self-determination, and ensure a just and peaceful world order. Pakistan must call for an end to Indian atrocities through the implementation of all relevant UN resolutions providing for the inalienable rights of Kashmiris including January 5, 1949, that provides the base for settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
- Pakistan’s message on Kashmir issue should be consistent: highlighting international community’s urgent intervention in Kashmir amid Human Rights violations.
- The global powers have a collective responsibility to protect human rights and initiate a dialogue between two nuclear powers to maintain peace and stability in the region. A realistic solution appears to be increase in pressure on India to implement the recommendations of United Nations Human Rights Commission’s (UNHRC) report.
- The United States, China and Russia must also play their part in ensuring that India implements the UNHRC recommendations.
- Pakistan should also emphatically demand implementation of United Nations resolutions (UNSCR) as self-determination is a legal and moral right of the people of Kashmir.