Kashmir Conflict

Topic started by Omar (@ mail.waldorf.edu) on Sat Nov 2 23:18:01 .
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Statement by Member of Pakistan Delegation on Agenda Item 112 (b-e): "Human Rights Questions" in the Third Committee of the 52nd Session of the General Assembly on 19 November 1997.

Mr. Chairman,

On behalf of my delegation, I would like to welcome the appointment of Ms. Mary Robinson as the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. We assure her of our full cooperation in the discharge of her onerous responsibilities. We would also like to thank Mr. Ayala Lasso, the former High Commissioner for Human Rights for his efforts in the promotion and protection of the human rights in complex situations.

Respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms is the cardinal principle of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, considerable progress has been achieved in the promotion and protection of human rights. The 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action reaffirmed and strengthened these principles. The United Nations, the international community, NGOs and other actors of civil society have played an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights.

However, despite all these efforts, human rights violations continue to occur in many parts of the world. In Bosnia and Herzegovina we have witnessed the cruelest manifestation of human rights violations in the recent past. We fully support the Dayton Peace Agreement of December 1995 and hope that its implementation would, to a large extent, mitigate sufferings of innocent people who had suffered at the hands of Serbian racists. The human rights crisis in the Great Lakes region in Africa is also a matter of serious concern for the international community.

Mr. Chairman,

In South Asia, the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir has been facing a serious human rights crisis for the last eight years. In the late 1989, the people of Jammu and Kashmir, inspired by the wave of freedom and democracy in the Eastern Europe rose to demand their inalienable right to self-determination which was promised to them by the international community through a number of Security Council resolutions and the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan resolutions of 13 August 1948 and 5 January 1949. Every day thousands of Kashmiri men, women and children would march up to the UN Observers Office in Srinagar and present memoranda reminding the international community of its commitments with the Kashmiri people.

India responded to this peaceful movement by massive deployment of security forces, imposition of draconian laws like TADA, Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act. As on 30 June 1997, there were about 665,875 Indian military and para-military troops in Kashmir. There is practically one Indian soldier for every two able bodied persons in Kashmir. The sole purpose of this intimidatory deployment is to terrorize Kashmiri people and perpetuate Indian occupation. India has violated all and every human rights covenant and instrument in Kashmir. During the past eight years, over 60,000 men, women and children have been killed. Thousands more have been maimed and disabled for life at the hands of Indian security forces.

Today there is not a single family in Kashmir who has not lost either a son or a brother or a father in the unabated human rights crisis. Indian troops arrest and summarily kill innocent civilians and then declare them militants. Custodial deaths, extrajudicial killings and summary executions have become a daily occurrences. During 1996 alone 3289 extra-judicial killings were reported in the state. Besides this, over 32,000 Kashmiri political activists are languishing in jails. In many cases the government is unwilling to release these activists despite clear court instructions.

In June this year, a diary recovered from a police officer in Kashmir disclosed that at least 22 fake encounters were conducted by him on the directions of his seniors. This reflects only tip of an iceberg. There are hundreds of other police officers who have performed dirty jobs on specific instructions. The International Human Rights Organizations like Amnesty International and Asia Watch have extensively catalogued harrowing human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. The Institute of Kashmir Studies, a Srinagar based research institution, has recently published a report captioned "Trials and Tribulations in Kashmir". This report contains hair raising details of human rights violations in the state. Indian barbarity in Kashmir has reached such extremes that even puppet Chief Minister of the disputed state has complained, in a formal letter to the Union Home Minister, about human rights violations by central forces in Kashmir.

Women and girls have been a special target of Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Rape has been used as an instrument of war to punish and humiliate Kashmiri pride. In many cases incidents of rape and molestation occur during infamous "cordon and search operations". In July this year, a four member Women's Fact Finding team visited Kashmir valley to investigate allegations of gang rape of six women, including minor girls by Indian troops in Rangreat area of Wavoosa. In its report captioned "Wounded Valley ...Shattered Souls" the team has recorded horrifying details of army atrocities against women in Kashmir. The team observed that "Rashtriya Riffles (RR) is synonymous with 'rape and raid' (RR) in Kashmir Valley". It lamented that ruling elite was totally insensitive to the plight of Kashmiri women. It described government's callous attitude towards this "serious matter" as a "tragedy".

Mr. Chairman,

In order to deflect international attention from human rights violations India claims that the problem in Jammu and Kashmir is of external instigation and material support to militancy from across the border. No doubt Kashmiris were inspired by the wave of freedom and democratization which swept the Eastern Europe and Central Asia in late 1980s. However, the content of Kashmiri movement has been exclusively indigenous which is reflected from the large number of sacrifices Kashmiri people have offered in the past eight years. As regards accusations of material support from across the border, the LOC in Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most heavily militarized zone in the world. Therefore, it is inconceivable that anything can move across the LOC without attracting Indian army's attention. In any case for the past five years Pakistan has been proposing stationing of neutral international observers or an increase in the number of existing U.N. Observers along the LOC to verify all such allegations. India has been reluctant to accept this proposal.

India also accuses Kashmiri freedom fighters of terrorism. In fact, it is Kashmiris who are victims of state-sponsored terrorism at the hands of Indian occupation forces in Kashmir. India has created cadres of mercenaries commonly described as "renegades" who are out to teach Kashmiris a lesson. Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, leader of the Congress Party in occupied Kashmir in an interview with weekly Sunday of 26 October-1 November 1997, has lamented that "there is no check on the atrocities committed by the security forces and the surrendered militants. They have been given license to go to any length." The Women's Fact Finding Team has also confirmed that renegades were picking up and raping Kashmiri women and girls with complete impunity.

Mr. Chairman,

The human rights crisis in Jammu and Kashmir is directly and inescapably linked to the denial of Kashmiri peoples inalienable right to self-determination. The persisting human rights crisis in the disputed state is a legitimate concern of the international community. The international community must use its influence with India to immediately cease its gross human rights violations in Kashmir and to redeem its pledges with Kashmiri people for the implementation of the relevant UN resolutions. We must guard that values of universal human rights are not sacrificed at the altar of political, economic or commercial considerations in South Asia. Appeasement of gross and systematic violations of human rights in Kashmir would raise questions about our commitment to this noble cause. It would derail our collective quest to close this century on a note of triumph and ascendancy of the human spirit and to achieve the ideals of dignity, freedom and equality for all human persons.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

For further information please contact:
Pakistan Mission, 8 East 65th Street, New York NY 10021.
Tel: (212) 879.8600 or E-Mail: pakistan@undp.org

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