Statement by Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, at the meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir

Honourable Chairman,

Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates,

I would like to convey my gratitude to the OIC Secretary General for extending his support for convening this meeting. Thank you Honourable Assistant Secretary General for chairing this meeting.

I am also grateful to all of you, Excellencies, for attending this important meeting. Your presence here demonstrates your country’s solidarity with the oppressed people of the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOK), who are under Indian occupation for the last seventy-one years.

At the outset, I condemn the dastardly and cowardly violation today by Indian aircraft of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan’s air space. The Pakistan Air Force has successfully repulsed this stealthy manoeuvre. The valiant and resolute people of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan are ready to foil such attempts and, while showing utmost restraint and responsibility, reserve their right to retaliate to defend themselves. Such acts of desperation highlight India’s illegal occupation of a part of Jammu and Kashmir and the threat it poses to international peace and security. The international community should step forward to stop the drums of war India is beating. Our message to India is:  stop crimes against humanity in Kashmir, evacuate the territory and stay away from our sacred homeland.

I would also like to underline that we are deeply disappointed to see India invited to the upcoming OIC CFM meeting. After the crimes that India has committed against the innocent people of Jammu & Kashmir, I find the invitation extended to the Indian Minister for External Affairs particularly provocative and galling to the Kashmiris. India has been consistently rejecting OIC’s resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir and denies access to OIC-IPHRC mission in IOK. No nation with a human rights record as dismal as India’s should be invited to an august assembly such as OIC-Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), and no matter of political or economic expediency should allow us to do so.

Today, as I speak on behalf of the people Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Occupied Kashmir has been literally set on fire by the occupation forces. In the wake of the Pulwama attack on February the 14th, there are clampdowns and crackdowns in towns and villages. Kashmiri leaders have been incarcerated. Political workers and their relatives have been picked at random. Over 400 people have been arbitrarily arrested. Gun-toting Indian occupation troops in riot gear are targeting young Kashmiris and gunning them down.

In IOK, which is already the most militarized region in the world, according to various media reports, massive barriers of steel barricades and razor-sharp concertina wires have been erected. The entire population of Kashmir is being intimidated. As if 700,000 troops already deployed in the IOK were not enough, additional 10,000 paramilitary troops have been rushed into the region.

To avenge the Pulwama attack, collective punishment is being meted out to the Kashmiri civilians and calls have been made for their genocide in the territory. Kashmiris studying, living or doing business in India have been attacked by mobs and have been forced to evacuate or flee their homes and workplaces. Kashmiris in their own homeland, particularly in Jammu, are being attacked by Hindutva mobsters who have plundered their homes and businesses and burnt their vehicles.

Ostensibly, 700,000 occupation troops are there to fight some 250 so-called militants, as India claims, but their actual purpose is to keep the entire population of IOK captive, whom they try to control by repression using live ammunition and pellet firing shotguns. In fact, India has practically been at war with the Kashmiri people for the past 71 years. The India occupation forces while targeting Kashmiris do not distinguish between militants and civilians, combatants and non-combatants. For them, all are fair game.

In the last two and half years, Indian occupation forces have killed over one thousand innocent Kashmiris and more than six thousand Kashmiris of all ages have been blinded either fully or partially. Civilians have been used as human shields. Since 1989, about a hundred thousand Kashmiris have been massacred, thousands of women have been raped, thousands have been forcibly disappeared, and the bodies of thousands more have been interred unceremoniously in mass and unmarked graves. Arbitrary detentions and torture in prisons are rampant. The youngest rape victim is an eight-year-old girl, Asifa, and the youngest pellet gun victim a 19-month-old baby-girl, Hiba Nisar.

Today human rights and humanitarian crisis in IOK is the most serious and egregious in the world today. Genocide unfolds every day in that land. This is a slow-moving holocaust. The root cause of this crisis is the rejection by the Kashmiris of the illegitimate Indian rule in Kashmir and denial of their right to self-determination mandated by the United Nations Security Council. And yet, India instead of agreeing to a referendum to ascertain the wishes of the Kashmiris has unleashed state terrorism against unarmed and defenceless civilians of Kashmir.

As I speak today, India is beating the drums of war against Kashmiris, Pakistan and its own Muslim population. India’s jingoists are threatening Pakistan with the use of force in violation of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter.

The ruling party in India is pushing the region to a nuclear precipice without realizing that this would be a double-edged sword which cuts both ways. The Indian ruling party and its militant affiliates – Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and Vishva Hindu Parishad – are whipping up incitement to hatred against Pakistan and Kashmiris to pave the way for electoral gains in the upcoming elections. This is the most irresponsible policy and posture.

India must be persuaded to walk back from the brink of war.

As a punitive measure, India is taking steps to change the demography of the Indian Occupied Kashmir through dubious judicial processes and is threatening to initiate constitutional amendments to undermine even cosmetic autonomy of Kashmir. In 1947, the population of Muslims in Jammu was 61 percent; today it has been reduced to 33 percent. India is now preparing to change the demography of the Valley of Kashmir through persecution, harassment, illegal settlements for Pundits and former Army personnel in Kashmir, and illicit transfer of population from India to the valley in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Additional Protocol I. This constitute a war crime. India wants to tinker with Articles 370 and 35(a) of its constitution which gives a semblance of autonomy to the region despite occupation.

India is practically writing a textbook of human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the occupied territory.

The reality is that India is the oppressor and Kashmiris are victims and this reality cannot be buried by false narratives in regard to Pulwama. This is the time to douse the flames of war and explore diplomacy to avert a catastrophe and give the Kashmiris their inherent rights. Instead of war-mongering, this is the time when we should collectively take steps to give Kashmiris their rights; and this would open ways for peace, security and cooperation in the region.

We fully endorse the affirmation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in his report released last year that India must respect the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir as protected under the international law

We are grateful to the OIC for passing resolutions year after year for the realization of the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people and an end to repression in IOK. We urge the OIC Contact Group on Kashmir to send a strong message through the upcoming conference of the OIC   Foreign Ministers to put pressure on India to discard its militaristic frenzy against Kashmiris and Pakistan and stop killing Kashmiris and violating their fundamental freedoms and inalienable human rights.

We would also request the OIC-Council of Foreign Ministers to:

a)    Urge the United Nations Security Council and the UN Secretary General to take a proactive role, through statesmanship and mediation under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter, to defuse the rising tensions and escalation created by India.

b)   Urge the UN Secretary General to appoint a Special Envoy on Kashmir.

c)    Demand that India stops forthwith its use of brute force, indiscriminate killings and violations of human rights of Kashmiris; and stem drift towards genocide in the IOK.

d)   Uphold the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir people in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

e)    Ask India to withdraw its occupation forces from IOK.

f)     Demand that India release detained Kashmiri leaders forthwith.

g)   Support the recommendations of the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir of the United Kingdom Parliament which calls on India to rescind two draconian laws – Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act – that foster a culture of impunity.

h)   Support the recommendation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry to directly assess the human rights situation in IOK.

i)     Implement recommendations of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) which, inter-alia, call for; (i) a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to put pressure on India to meet its human rights obligations; (ii) coordinate and collaborate with the Islamic Development Bank and Islamic Development Fund to initiate development projects in the IOK; and (iii) urge India to remove travel restrictions on Kashmiri leaders and facilitate their free movement abroad.

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