Revisiting Kashmir Policy: Recommendations and Way Forward

COPAIR organized a webinar on International Human Rights Day to commemorate the sacrifices of citizens of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir in last 70 years and to highlight the grave violations of human rights by the Indian occupational forces in the region. The webinar hosted a number of international scholars, journalists, human rights activists joined the webinar to shed light on the subject, and President COPAIR, Amna Malik concluded the event by proposing a thorough set of recommendations. She was of view that for the resolution of Kashmir conundrum and putting an end to the transgression of basic human rights guaranteed to all humans under the UN declaration of Human Rights, there is a need to revisit our national policy, engage all stakeholders for their input and adopt a sustainable approach. Kashmir is predominately Muslim-majority state and the incumbent Hindutva regime is trying to alter its demography through coercive political (Article 370 and Article 35-A) and martial means (AFSPA and heavily militarizing the disputed region). Indian repression on Muslims of Occupied Kashmir clearly narrates the fact that the dispute is not merely a territorial one but it has taken a religious lateral at this juncture. In order to put this to halt and resolve the prolonged humanitarian crisis, the following recommendations were laid forth:

  1. Upholding the Global Commitment of “Responsibility to Protect”

Responsibility to Protect doctrine is a global principle and commitment endorsed by all members of the UN in the UN World Summit in 2005. This norm ensures that the international community will never fail again to prevent the crimes of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. It confers a responsibility of the international community to prevent the mass atrocities while the case of Kashmir is the biggest question on the efficacy of this doctrine because of the preferential standing of the global community on the Indian occupied region. Kashmiris are forceful subjects in an occupied territory rather than rightful citizens and the doctrine of R2P becomes even more important and relevant because of the grave human rights violations and war crimes carried out consistently and systematically by Indian forces. Their citizenship is subject to contestation because under the International Law, India does not hold a legal title to Jammu and Kashmir. The R2P doctrine is neglected by India when the belligerent state attempted to revoke the special status of Kashmir unilaterally, which is a violation of the terms of a bilateral agreement with Pakistan. Secondly, it is against the will of Kashmiri people as their consent was not taken and their political leadership was put under house arrest while enforcing this decision. Lastly, Indian authorities are suppressing the indigenous people through the use of excessive force and compromising the norms of humanity mentioned in the UNDHR. This is the reason that R2P doctrine demands international attention and rapid response in case of Kashmir. Given the current circumstances, the global community and stakeholders must engage in compliance to the R2P doctrine to address the concerns of the humanitarian crisis in the disputed region.

  1. Patronage of the International Community and Diplomatic Community

People of Indian occupied Kashmir are deprived of their fundamental rights guaranteed by the UN Declaration of human rights 1948. For the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue and the humanitarian crisis, the Government of Pakistan should pursue uncompromising diplomacy and advocacy and for this, the government should revisit its previous diplomatic initiatives on the subject. It was recommended in the conference that the government should devise a mechanism to move forward on the issue through employing its diplomatic muscle for the solution of Kashmir. A revamped or revised diplomatic policy and lobbying can prove to be effective and on the lines, that international law is not uniformly applied to the case of Kashmir. Involvement of the UN is imperative because abrogation of domestic legal framework does not change the internationally recognized legal position of the Kashmir issue. While highlighting the role of supranational organizations, the constructive role of OIC was also highlighted which helped in addressing the gross humanitarian crisis carried out by the Indian armed forces and fact-finding missions of OIC is a leap in this regard. Engagement of all diplomatic actors and multilateral approaches including the UN, the Commonwealth and regional organizations is essential for the resolution of Kashmir.

  1. Lawfare over Warfare

The UNSC resolution of 1948 accredited the state of Kashmir as a disputed territory and repeated that the eternal status of the state would be determined by a neutral plebiscite; however, the event of August 5th, 2019 to subsume the territory has converted this occupation into an unlawful annexation. The UNSC resolution of 1951 concerning the demilitarization of Kashmir asked both parties to reduce the number of troops, which was abided by Pakistan but India rejected it without any reason. The UN also announced the territory under the control of India and Pakistan as the ceasefire line following the Simla Agreement (the Agreement) of 1972. The Agreement prohibits unilateral action to alter the status of the state whereas India neglected the agreement and unilaterally altered the status of the disputed region. With this milieu, Pakistan can pursue Kashmir’s case before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) with a strong lawfare suit to hold Indian political and military administration responsible for violations of international law and human rights.

  1. Urging European Counterparts for the Resolution of Kashmir Dispute

European parliament can play a constructive role in mediating the conflict between the contending parties. European Parliament, European Council, and the European Union have an influence on India, therefore they can use this authority to mediate. At least, they can force India to lift the communication blackout in the valley and provision of Human rights to the people of Kashmir. These authorities should think beyond their economic interests with India and should focus on the much-obliged norms of human rights. The gravity of the situation in Kashmir should be the focus of the international community.

  1. Mobilizing Pakistani Diaspora

Pakistan has a large diaspora in foreign countries, especially those countries having a say in the multilateral forum and by leveraging the Pakistani diaspora, developing new coalitions among various diaspora organizations, Pakistan can put the Kashmir crisis in the international spotlight and gather global support for its solution. All we need is to develop effective communication channels with the international community, including international media, prominent think tanks and important politicians, focusing on internationalizing the Kashmir issue and prevalent humanitarian crisis in the region. Diaspora could play an important role in raising awareness about the Jammu and Kashmir dispute at the international level and projecting a unified stance with legal and historical accuracy.

  1. Channelling the Civil Society for Gaining Traction

Other minorities should also be taken on board for putting a counterweight on India since they are also subject to oppression within India. A collective effort, combining all suppressed minorities of India, can further the agenda of freedom and rights of Indian minorities and it will ultimately add to the Kashmir cause and its solution. Along with this, there is an urgent need to engage civil society and political parties – apart from the Hindu chauvinist ones – to take up the cause of minorities and highlight human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir. Involvement of civil society can create pressure on the incumbent regime for putting an end to the humanitarian crisis. Foreign human rights organizations, especially those already working on the said matter, should be taken on board.

  1. Unravelling the Kashmir Knot by Media and Academia

Academia is the backbone of policymaking, politics and discourses. By engaging international scholars, academia and researchers, we can collectively work to highlight the human rights violations in IIOJK and demand an urgent resolution of this crisis. Independent media organization are also detrimental for raising the voice of Kashmiris through writings, public speaking, and creating a narrative against Indian radicalization and suppression on Kashmiris which can alter the public opinion being persuaded by the nationalist and culturally intolerant regime of India.

  1. Mapping of Track-II Diplomacy and Bifurcation of Kashmir

Pakistan should also focus on the Track-II diplomacy for the resolution of Kashmir’s humanitarian crisis. The intermediary role of international and regional organizations is equally critical in this regard and involvement of non-governmental and informal contacts can be considered a tool of statecraft. Since Pakistan and India, both are member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), SAARC and other multilateral forums, the issue of Kashmir can be discussed on the sidelines of annual meetings. Similar to this, agenda could be taken up to the forums like Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs for the initiation of the peace process. This will lead to the confidence building, inclusion of third party arbitration and persuade India to halt its excessive use of force. Various stakeholders like South Asian Media Net (SAMN), Free Media Foundation (FMF), and South Asian Parliament (SAFMA) can also pave the path for the confidence-building between both parties.

  1. Kashmir Demands a Long-lasting and Sustainable Resolution

Kashmir conflict needs a sustainable resolution. The international community is responsible for sustaining the world peace and resolving conflicts between the states, thus, succumbs to influence India for a peaceful resolution of Kashmir conflict and the underlying rationale should be the development of people of Kashmir and guarantee of this basic social, economic and political rights.

  1. Digital Media and Digital Activism as a GameChanger

Currently, the people of Kashmir are living under the digital darkness but the use of digital platforms by Pakistan and its allies to highlight the atrocities of Indian forces in IIOJK can prove effective. This is the digital age and in order to influence more people in less time many digital platforms particularly the use of social media can play a significant role. The prolonged crisis of Kashmir, systematic violence and repression of India on them to evade their basic rights and shadow their sacrifices should be propagated through these digital platforms. This will lead to global public awareness about the plight of Kashmiris and add to their demand for the basic right of self-determination.

 

 

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Amna Malik
About Amna Malik 46 Articles
Author is the President, Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) and Editor-in-Chief of ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’ and ‘ The Asian Telegraph’.