Written by: Umair Pervez Khan
Last week, world leaders gathered at New York for the opening of the annual session of United Nations General Assembly. It was the 74th session of the forum and was attended by maximum country heads of the world. The session was being looked upon by Pakistanis and particularly Kashmiris as an opportunity where their unprecedented miseries and genuine concerns would be voiced as earlier this month Prime Minister Khan addressing to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Law makers in Muzaffarabad called himself as an “ambassador of Kashmir” and had assured the people of whole Jammu and Kashmir that he would be raising the voice of Kashmir like never had been raised before UN. The expectations of curfewed Kashmiris with their “ambassador” were even more high this time. Has he been really successful in keeping his words?
Mr. Khan remained very busy in his week-long trip to America. He was seen active in different forums, meeting different heads of the states and discussing the international and regional issues in length. Anyhow, his focus remained Kashmir due to which after many years Turkey and China along with Malaysia, in UNGA referred to the resolution of Kashmir conflict immediately.
The eloquent address of the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyab Erdogan, two days earlier before Mr. Khan’s address in UNGA, had set the stage for confident, optimistic and prepared Pakistani premier.
Mr. Khan started his speech in UNGA by discussing the sensitive issue of climate change and urged UN to play its part in restricting the countries responsible for green house gas emissions. Further, he deliberated about the critical issue of Islamophobia being faced by Muslims in the world specially after 9/11. His logics were being absorbed by the participants of the forum as they were constantly applauding him. He rightfully pointed out role of western leaders in portraying Islam as a radical religion and accepting the failure of Muslim leaders to make west understand that Muslim cultures also have radical people as any other society of the world may have. He precisely gave the example of Tamil suiciders being Hindu, but no one blamed their religion. This was one of the rare occasions when any Muslim leader had so effectively explained the phenomenon of extremism to western world in their language of understanding at highest diplomatic forum.
Prime Ministers approximately fifty minutes long “lecture” had 26 minutes dedicated to Kashmir conflict. PM Khan logically tried to convince the western leaders that inhumane curfew imposed by Modi in occupied Kashmir, of now 55 days is a brutal violation of the UN Human rights charter and all human rights existing in the world. He exposed Modi as an RSS lifetime member and rightfully equated him with fascist Hitler and Mossilini. The embarrassment of the Indian representative at UNGA was obvious when PM Khan told the world community that by revoking article 370 of India’s constitution, Modi has violated 11 UN resolutions on Kashmir and even its own constitution. Moreover, Khan made President of the UN remember that, you are the organization which has given Kashmiris their right to self-determination and they are suffering for it. He warned world community to play its part now or the consequences will be far beyond the borders of sub-continent if two nuclear states would come face to face as they did earlier this year in February.
Mr. Khan’s address is being praised at home and abroad. However, the whole story is not of achievements for Mr. Khan as an ambassador of Kashmir. Pakistan has failed to garner support from other countries particularly Muslim states who could have referred to early settlement of Kashmir conflict according to UN resolutions in their addresses at General Assembly which could have substantiated Pakistan’s stance in international arena.
Regrettably, Pakistan also remained unsuccessful in introducing a resolution in UNHRC which needed only support of 15 countries out of 47 member countries of the council. Despite of the fact that 15 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are full members of the UNHRC, Pakistan could not manage the votes.
Therefore, as Kashmiris are praising PM Khan for his efforts made at different forums for the cause they also hope that Pakistan would “Do more” on the issue and would practically hold India accountable at different diplomatic forums through its active diplomacy. The need of the hour is to follow up and keep mounting the pressure so that India could be compelled to lift the curfew in first place and then work for the Kashmiris right to choose.
As a Kashmiri, author would like to suggest few practical steps that could help Pakistan diplomatically.
• Trust Kashmiris! Send scholars, politicians and historians from Kashmir to international capitals to plead their own case. i.e. recognize Azad Jammu and Kashmir as true base camp for the liberation struggle of Kashmir.
• Reinstate state subject rule in Gilgit Baltistan to mount pressure on Modi and to satisfy the concerns of Kashmiris across cease fire line.
• Practically make a special committee/ desk on Kashmir in FO that should consist of academicians and competent politicians. Under its umbrella every important foreign mission should have a sub desk to lobby for Kashmir. take input from Kashmiris in it.
• Be active in using the UN mechanisms and lodging complaints.
• Must produce massive literature projecting the dispute on legal grounds and showing the atrocities in Occupied Kashmir. This literature must be distributed in every possible international forum by Kashmiri activists like Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) did in early years of Palestinian movement.
• Get engage international Scholars.
• Engage international media.
• Actively work for engagement of international Human Rights organization into the conflict. Make original stories of occupied Kashmir to reach them.
• Facilitate diaspora working effectively for the cause.
The writer is an International Relations, PhD scholar at Seljuck University, Turkey.