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London conference calls for Kashmir resolution

No Solution Within Indian Constitution: Mirwaiz

Conference ends on self-determination note

 

Centre for Kashmir Studies (CKS), Srinagar

 

London, Nov 30: The two-day international conference titled “Sixty years of the Kashmir dispute—a way forward,” held in the House of Commons, London  on November 28-29, ended here Thursday, with the participants urging early resolution of the Kashmir dispute for the interest of the people of the region.

Speaking at the plenary session of the conference organized by the Kashmir Centre London at Palace of West Minister, House of Commons, the UK MP and Secretary All Parties Parliamentary Group, Martin Salter stated that Kashmir was the longest outstanding issue which needs to be resolved. He said that the 60-year-old problem was the main cause of the tension in the South Asian region.

Welcoming the delegates the Executive Director of Kashmir Centre, Professor Nazir Ahmed Shawl said that the struggle of Kashmiris reveals that essential ingredient is the people’s empowerment for the restoration of their fundamental freedoms, their dignified identity and the freedom to end the political uncertainty, which surrounds them.  He said that Kashmiris are struggling for their right to self-determination.

President of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Raja Zulqarnain Khan, while appreciating India-Pakistan dialogue process urged the inclusion of Kashmiris in the talks process. He reminded Britain of its moral responsibility to address the sufferings of people of Jammu and Kashmir and help in bringing this traumatic situation to an end by facilitating a resolution.

The Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that no solution to the Kashmir dispute within Indian constitution or under the aegis of the Election Commission of India was acceptable to the people of Kashmir. He said elections cannot be construed as referendum as had been envisaged in the UN resolutions and cannot be taken as exercising of right to self-determination.  

He said, “It is historical reality that fraudulent elections were held in disputed territory to legitimise the occupation of Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir. Even the United Nations Security Council in its resolution of 1957 had in categorical terms stated that any election held in Jammu and Kashmir cannot be substituted for holding of plebiscite under the supervision of the United Nations. It is high time for the international community to know that holding of fraudulent elections in Kashmir can only vitiate the atmosphere required for taking forward the peace process towards the resolution of the problem.”

Mirwaiz called upon the international community to rise to the occasion and impress upon India to respond positively with the peace initiative. He said Pakistan has shown magnanimity and flexibility and so has the Kashmiri leadership.  He said the peace process between India and Pakistan has entered the fourth year but there has been no perceptible progress on Kashmir. “Nothing substantial has been done to find an amicable solution of the problem.”

He said till the Kashmir problem remains unresolved the peace and development in the region will remain a mirage. “It is in India’s own interest to resolve the Kashmir problem. It is in the interest of teeming millions in the sub-continent living below the poverty line to resolve this most outstanding problem.”

Mirwaiz called for allow free travel between the two parts of Kashmir as well as the free flow of trade and good between all the regions of the Kashmir. He said this arrangement could be an interim arrangement for a period of five years or ten years.

Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan High Commissioner to UK stated that there has been progress in ongoing Pak-India dialogue process since 2004 but more needs to be done to address the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. She said Line of Control is part of problem not a part of solution, adding that President Musharraf travelled extra mile, demonstrated flexibility while India is yet to reciprocate Pakistan’s proposals on Kashmir dispute. “The opportunity to resolve the dispute through peaceful dialogue exists. This is because after a long time, this dialogue is being conducted in a vastly improved environment of bilateral relations between Pakistan and India as well as a conducive international environment. We must seize the opportunity provided by these factors to negotiated settlements of Kashmir issue.”

The Kashmir issue, she said, has three interconnected dimensions including political, security and humanitarian “Our approach in pursuit of a peaceful settlement is one that seeks to address all these aspects,” Dr Lodhi added.

She pointed out that Pakistan has offered the ideas of demilitarization and self-governance as the basis of a possible interim solution, acceptable to all stake holders especially the people of Kashmir.

She further said Pakistan has also emphasized the need to involve and associate the Kashmiris in the peace process. She said Pakistan has called for withdrawal or reduction of Indian troops from towns and population centres, repeal of the repressive laws, release of political detainees and end to crackdowns and other operations and dismantling of bunkers and barricades.

Dr Lodhi also noted that a number of Kashmir related CBMs have been proposed and discussed and some agreed. “Their aim is to facilitate interaction among Kashmiris on both sides and encourage people to people contact, strengthen communication links and promote trade.”

The first technical session of the conference was presided over by Ambassador Arif Kamal. The panelists in this session were Dave Anderson, MP Paul Goodman, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director Kashmir American Centre, Washington, Zahid G Muhammad, a Srinagar-based columnist, and Nayeem Khan.

Dr Fai said the denial of the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir by India has made the lives of Kashmiri people miserable, adding that this principle was recognised by the United Nations and upheld by India and Pakistan and UN Security Council.

“The issue involves the life and future of the 14 million people of the State of Jammu & Kashmir,” he   said.

Dr Fai reiterated that the denial of this right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir has brought India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.  The issue was upheld equally by both India and Pakistan when the Kashmir dispute was brought before the Security Council in 1948. The international agreements were agreed upon by the United Nations and endorsed by the Security Council.

Dr Fai reminded the audience that the United States and Britain have traditionally been committed supporters of the plebiscite agreement as the only way to resolve this issue. They sponsored all of the Security Council resolutions which called for a plebiscite.

Their commitment was indicated by a personal appeal made by America’s President Harry Truman and Britain’s Prime Minister Clement Atlee that differences over demilitarization be submitted to arbitration by the Plebiscite Administrator, a distinguished American war hero: Admiral Chester Nimitz. India rejected this appeal and, later on, objected to an American acting as the Plebiscite Administrator.

The PaK Prime Minister Sardar Atique Ahmad Khan, speaking in the third and final session of the day on “The impediments of the Indo-Pakistan dialogue” said there was a need for a forward vision. He said South Asian region was clouded in danger because of the unresolved issue of Kashmir.

He called for frequent interaction between people of Kashmir living across the Line of Control to develop more confidence and understanding. He said open debates must be held in Srinagar and Muzaffarabad to freely discuss the various options on the Kashmir and allow consensus to develop.

Omar Abdullah, president National Conference, in his speech said flexibility and dialogue was must to move forward on the issue. There was a need to look for resolving this issue beyond the beaten track. He said the people of Kashmir must not ask for all but should know how much space was available to them. He said it was up to the Kashmir leadership to decide what they want. He claimed that the Indian leadership was moving forward but has been handicapped by the coalition government in the Centre, which does not allow Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh much room to manoeuvre.

British MP Paul Goodman pleaded that India cannot become a member of Security Council if it does not improve human rights record in Jammu and Kashmir.

Zahid G Muhammad urged the international community for facilitating the two countries to find out a solution of the Kashmir problem based on justice and fair play in tune with the UN charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Ex-MP John Cushnahan, MP Fabian Hamilton, and Majid Tramboo, Director Kashmir Centre Brussels, also spoke on the occasion and discussed the various aspects of Kashmir issue.

Resolutions:

The two-day Kashmir conference adopted a seven-point resolution stating that right to self-determination was the inalienable and non-negotiable right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The resolution demanding demilitarization of entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, facilitating travel of Kashmir leaders, allowing expatriate Kashmiris to visit their homeland, holding of all inclusive dialogue on Kashmir, release of all detainees and repeal of all draconian laws in vogue in the state was adopted in the plenary session chaired by Prime Minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan.

Those present in the closing plenary session were Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Senator Mushahid Hussain, Dr G N Fai, Farooq Siddique, Prof Nazir Ahmed Shawl, Z G Muhammad, Sardar Ali Shahnawaz Khan, Prof. Edgar Garcia, Mike Pennning, Paul Rowan, Brendan Maclaster, John Cushnan and Dr. Zulfikar Ali.

Dr. Zulfikar Ali read the resolution in the conference.

The text of resolution:

*Right to self-determination is an inalienable and non-negotiable right of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

*There should be complete demilitarization of entire state of Jammu and Kashmir as it stood on August 15, 1947.

*An international commission should be set up to look into human rights violation by all in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir should be declared as non-nuclear zone.

*All political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir should be allowed to  travel abroad freely and travel documents should be issued in favour  of all leaders, political activist, academicians, human rights workers and professionals who  have not this facility thus far. Kashmir expatriates living in different parts of the world should be allowed to visit their homeland for furthering amicable and peaceful resolution of Kashmir problem.

*The dialogue on Kashmir should be all inclusive and leaders of the armed resistance should be integral component of the peace initiatives for resolution of the Kashmir problem.

*All political prisoners languishing in different jails and interrogation centers in the state and in different parts of India should be released. Cases instituted against various political leaders of Kashmir should be withdrawn. The draconian laws in vogue in the state should be repealed.

Posted on September 27, 2007 by CKS, Srinagar.

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