Ladies and Gentlemen,
As-salam-o-alakum, Namaste and Good Morning
It is my privilege and honour to address this exclusive gathering of Nepalese intellectuals, thinkers and media representatives.
In my discourse today, I shall be sharing my views on the subject of Resolution of Regional Disputes for Greater Peace and Prosperity in South Asia.
South Asia is one of world’s most important regions. It is home to one fifth of the world’s population. Besides, South Asia is also cradle of major world civilizations, rich in history, culture and natural as well as human endowment. However, today the region is marred by widespread poverty, inequality, unemployment, environmental degradation, and many other challenges.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For Pakistan, our vision is of a strong, democratic, progressive state that provides peace, prosperity and security to its people. The Prime Minister of Pakistan’s vision of a peaceful neighborhood, in our view, is a prerequisite for stability and sustainable development of the region.
Pakistan enjoys a pivotal geo – strategic location. Located at the cross– roads of three vital regions– South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia, Pakistan can be a bridgehead for multi-sectoral cooperation between these regions. Pakistan’s geographical location, straddling these important regions makes it a natural choice for a regional economic hub. It remains only a matter of time. Pakistan is already building trade, energy and communication corridors within the country as well as linking the regions; West Asia, Central Asia and China.
Our region possesses enormous resilience and capacity to transform its challenges into opportunities. We are convinced that South Asia has the potential to become a region of economic and social prosperity. However, this can only be possible if we are able to resolve the disputes that afflict our region. Prudence demands that for the sake of our future generations we move towards durable peace and prosperity which requires the resolution of regional disputes.
The biggest dispute that has impeded development in our region is Jammu and Kashmir. Its effects and repercussions are felt in the entire region, as well as the world at large. It is essentially an issue of the inalienable right to self-determination with a strong human rights dimension.
Kashmiris were promised their right of self determination by the international community through several UN Resolutions beginning in 1948. Today, nearly seven decades down the line, these commitments remain unfulfilled. This is an obvious question mark and a burden on world consciousness. Durable peace would continue to elude South Asia till the people of Jammu and Kashmir get their right of self determination. All these decades, which were marked by oppression and human rights violations against the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have remained steadfast in their struggle for their right of self determination.
5th February, the Kashmir Solidarity Day, is commemorated as a day when Pakistani populace, across the world, renews its pledge to support the peaceful struggle of freedom of their Kashmiri brethren. This day renews the pledge for those millions of Kashmiris who have been engaged in the struggle to win their right to self determination. The day, observed since 1991, highlights their right to choose their fate themselves, as guaranteed by UN resolutions. This right must be given to them.
The human rights dimension of Jammu and Kashmir dispute is both important and painful. Since 1989, 0ver 94,000 people have been killed, more than 10,000 women raped and well over one hundred thousand houses destroyed.
These tragic human rights violations have not gone unnoticed by the international community. UN High Commissioner Ms. Navi Pillay during her press conference on 18 October 2012 in Geneva, referred to the Human Right situation. Ms. Pillay said,
“The discovery of 1,730 bodies in unmarked mass graves was confirmed in a 2011 report by the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission which stated that 574 of the bodies had been identified as disappeared local people. The Commission said it believed there is “every probability” that the mass graves may also “contain the dead bodies of (persons subject to) enforced disappearances”. The report called for immediate DNA sampling and other forensic tests to see whether or not any of the bodies matched the next of kin of people who have disappeared, but I understand the State government has recently said it will not proceed with the forensic identification of the unidentified bodies. I urge the Indian authorities to fully investigate past killings and disappearances and bring the perpetrators to justice, as well as to ensure protection of witnesses and families of the missing and provide them with redress.”.
European Union in its July 10, 2008 Resolution on unnamed graves in IOK, has mentioned discovering of hundreds of unnamed graves in IOK. It has also termed IOK as the most beautiful prison of the world.
Now I would recount a few historical facts:
5th February also makes us recall the basic facts that revolve round the UN Security Council resolutions on the dispute. Some of the important facts of the matter are:
- The issue of Kashmir was taken to the UN Security Council by India.
- The UN Security Council rejected India’s claim that Kashmir is legally Indian territory.
- The UN resolutions established self – determination as the governing principal for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute. This is the world body’s commitment to the people of Kashmir.
- The resolutions endorsed a binding agreement between India and Pakistan, reached through the mediation of UN Commission for India and Pakistan, that a plebiscite would be held, under agreed and specified conditions.
- The people of Kashmir still await the implementation of the resolution.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
5th of February, also translates into an act of promise in which the people of Pakistan vow to uphold the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to self determination.
Here, I would like to remind you that Indian leadership on several occasions made public commitments to the Kashmiris right of self-determination. The list is long, I will quote only a few of them.
- Ghandi, during a speech, at a Prayer Meeting on 26 October 1947 had said, “If the people of Kashmir are in favour of opting for Pakistan, no power on earth can stop them from doing so. They should be left free to decide for themselves”.
- Also allow me to quote a few statements made by the Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru in the Indian Parliament. He said and I quote:
- “We have taken the issue to the United Nations and given our word of honour for a peaceful solution. As a great nation, we cannot go back on it. We have left the question for final solution to the people of Kashmir and we are determined to abide by their decision” (2 January 1952).
- “If, after a proper plebiscite, the people of Kashmir said, ‘We do not want to be with India’, we are committed to accept that, we will accept it though it might pain us. We will not send any army against them. We will accept that, however, hurt we might feel about it, we will change the Constitution, if necessary” (26 June 1952).
The above quoted statements of Mr. Nehru were made in the Indian parliament and for the media.
Today the Kashmiris in Indian occupied Kashmir are unfurling Pakistani flags in their rallies and on the occasions of Indian independence days. These acts of Kashmiris carry some very strong messages for the world community.Pakistan has continuously endeavored to settle this unfinished agenda of partition. However, Indian Security Forces continue to unleash reign of terror through extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances, rapes and humiliation of innocent Kashmiris irrespective of age and gender.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pakistan would continue to vigorously pursue a peaceful solution, based on the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people. We have no doubt that ultimately, Kashmiris would be the final arbiters of their destiny and no plan would succeed that does not reflect this reality. 5th February is also a reminder to the international stake holders that they should employ reason and solve this dispute which has massive human proportions. The supreme sacrifices of the Kashmiri’s must not go unheard and waste.
The way to everlasting peace in the region, Ladies and Gentlemen, lies in the resolution of Kashmir issue, as per aspirations of the Kashmiris. This would no doubt bring about regional peace and greater prosperity in South Asia.
(Speech delivered by Deputy Chief of Mission of Embassy of Pakistan in Kathmandu Mr. Javed Ahmed Umrani on February 5, 2016 while observing the Kashmir Solidarity Day)