Statement by Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs (Islamabad, January 5-6, 2017) at International Parliamentary Seminar on Jammu and Kashmir
Honorable Prime Minister,
Honorable Speaker National Assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq,
Honorable Masood Khan,
Honorable Farooq Haider,
Asslam o Alaikum,
It is a privilege to address this august gathering.
At the outset, let me place on record, the appreciation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the initiative taken by the Young Parliamentarians Forum to organize this seminar. May I also welcome all participants and specially those from abroad and wish them productive deliberations on this important subject.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Jammu and Kashmir dispute is a stigma on the international conscience. Alongwith Palestine, these two issues are the longest unresolved items on the UN agenda.
The heart of this dispute is the aspiration of (nearly 20 million) Kashmiri people for a life of peace, freedom and dignity. The sequence of tragedies is compounded, by India's denial of a free and impartial plebiscite, promised to Kashmiris not only by the international community through Security Council Resolutions but also by the founding fathers of India.
For the last seventy years, three successive generations of Kashmiri people have held aloft the aspirations for Azadi with zeal and commitment. Throughout this period, this relentless struggle has continued despite the harshest measures adopted by India.
The presence of more than 700,000 occupation forces for around 12 million people in the IOK is a clear manifestation of the Indian policy to use state-terrorism as a tool to suppress the just struggle of the Kashmiri people. The ratio of civilian to armed forces personnel is the highest in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
8 July 2016, which marks the extra judicial murder of young Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani at the hands of Indian occupying forces has proven to be a pivotal turning point for the Kashmir freedom movement. 200,000 people who attended his funeral inspired the entire population of IOK to recalibrate their march towards Azadi, despite a reign of terror unleashed by Indian occupation forces.
Since then, Indian forces have used live ammunition and pellet guns on the unarmed Kashmiri civilians with impunity, leading to scores of deaths and injuries. Due to pellet injuries, thousands of people have sustained severe eye injuries, leading to partial or permanent blindness.
The post- July second Intifada in IOK is unprecedented in at least four aspects.
There is unanimity, even in India, that the present wave of uprising is indigenous and cannot be brought under the convenient label of so called "cross border terrorism". Former Indian NSA M.K Narayanan wrote in The Hindu on October 10th 2016 that Kashmir freedom movement is "home grown and cannot be blamed on Pakistan or outsiders".
Secondly, the educated and tech savvy, youth of Kashmir are leading this uprising. This new leadership effectively uses social media and information technology in a peaceful manner. The Indian Express notes that "a new generation", mostly from prosperous families, is increasingly taking centre stage of the Kashmiri uprising.
Thirdly, the movement has sustained itself for 5 long months, despite unprecedented coercion by Indian forces. The "protest calendar" issued by Hurriyat leadership is earnestly followed with constant hartals and boycotts.
Finally, there is growing realization in India on the nature and the scale of draconian measures adopted by the Indian Government in IOK. Pictures of blinded youth have touched everyone. One Indian expert calls it "extreme suppression of civil liberties", which has united Kashmiri public as" nothing unites people like shared persecution". Another notes that "each death, of a protestor, has become a celebration of this defiance, triggering more protests, adding more grievances and increasing the alienation" of India.
A deeply worrying aspect of Indian actions in IOK is the attempt to change the demography of Kashmir and convert its Muslim majority into a minority. Recent reports of issuance of Kashmiri citizenship to non-state subjects have led to protests and clashes in the IOK. Equally disturbing are reports of extension of SARFAESI Act to IOK, whereby Indian Banks can seize property of Kashmiri people and sell them to non-state subjects.
We condemn such measures as complete violation of international law and Security Council Resolutions and call upon India to desist from taking any action that could alter the demography of IOK.
The Kashmir dispute remains the core issue between India and Pakistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the United Nations General Assembly last September said "Peace and normalization between Pakistan and India cannot be achieved without a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. This is an objective evaluation, not a partisan position". Unquote
Both Houses of Pakistan's Parliament have extensively debated Jammu and Kashmir in recent months. These parliamentary deliberations and resolutions guide us in policymaking and implementation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pakistan is utilizing all possible avenues to project the cause of Kashmir and to find its lasting settlement in accordance with the wishes of the people.
Let there be no doubt that Pakistan will continue to extend its steadfast support to the Kashmiri people The UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu & Kashmir offer the only plausible, peaceful and democratic solution to the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. The international community, and above all India, must fulfill their promises made to the people of Jammu & Kashmir people for the exercise of their inalienable right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations.
Pakistan is committed to extending all moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their historic struggle for their right to self-determination.