OP-ED WION Global Summit — are we losing focus on Kashmir?

Dr Syed Nazir Gilani,

India has aggressed and re-occupied the part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, previously outsourced to it, under an international arrangement, to hold a free, fair and secure Plebiscite on the right of self-determination. De facto after 31 October 2019, India has annexed the part administered by it. De jure it is a violation of UN resolutions on Kashmir, in particular UN Security Council resolution of 30 March 1951, makes Indian action unlawful and an aggression.

There is no doubt that Pakistan has put up strenuous efforts to expose Indian actions in Kashmir. India has been further exposed, after the present Hindutva Government, took a calculated risk to go after the Muslims of India and other minorities. The scenes of atrocities committed against Muslim men, women and children in Delhi and in other parts of India, are a replay of atrocities, committed against Muslims in the Valley of Kashmir.

It appears that Government and Opposition in Pakistan and the Government of Azad Kashmir, in aggregate, are lost in the wilderness of a confusion and the euphoria on Kashmir situation has started to sag. We do not seem to have perfected a template to take our concerns and help for the Kashmiris to another secure and satisfactory level. Even the various Kashmiri representations working in Islamabad seem to have gone for a quiet. People are running mad for indoor seminars on Kashmir, which do not sell a dime, in the international market. It is waste of money and resurrection of a new culture, which has no immediate relevance to the gravity of aggression committed by India.

Government of India seems to have other ideas. WION (World Is One News) an International news channel owned by Zee Media, hosted the 3rd WION Global Summit in Dubai on Thursday 5 March 2020 on,”India and the Emerging World: Nationalism, Multilateralism and Creative Diplomacy.” It is interesting that the first agenda item in the first session was “India’s geographically significant move – Kashmir an Internal Matter.”

The panellists in the session that were to consider Kashmir, included Ram Madhav, National General Secretary, Bharatiya Janata Party & Member, Board of Governors, India Foundation, General Joginder Jaswant Singh, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC, former Chief of the Army Staff, India, Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik, PVSM, VSM, former Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force and Manoj Ladwa, Founder & CEO @India Inc.

The three Pakistan’s who were invited to the summit, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Former Foreign Minister, Pakistan, Salman Bashir, Former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan and Reham Khan, Journalist, Commentator and Broadcasterwere not part of this very important panel. In other words they were very cleverly inducted in the summit, as panellists in the 3rd session on “Balancing and Recalibrating Pakistan’s Diplomatic Strategy: Economy, Security and Internal Political Stability”.

The 3rd session was further sub divided into seven sections. It appeared as if the first session was designed to legitimise Indian action in Kashmir and load Pakistan in the 3rd session to explain its position on seven issues. The organisers succeeded to revive a reference to terrorism by introducing a sub section titled “Pakistan’s Fight against Terror Funding- Creating an Overarching Strategic Stability Regime”.

Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Former Foreign Minister, Pakistan, although a thorough gentleman, yet does not have gained any credits on Kashmir, during his tenure. On the contrary, he and many others, are lurking in the corridors of interest, were architects of Musharraf’s four point formula on Kashmir. This formula has led to the Indian re-occupation of Kashmir on 5 August 2019 and dismembering the State from 31 October 2019.

India has continued to weaken the Kashmir case by engaging retired and other people (Pakistanis and Kashmiris alike) from Pakistan, in track II diplomacy and by facilitating them at such summits. The beginning for Indian action, was made at the Washington Kashmir Conference of July 2006, when the final declaration, dropped any reference to UN Resolutions on Kashmir and to Right of Self Determination. These people and this mind set seems to be resurfacing and may be instrumental in legitimising the Indian action of 5 August and 31 October 2019.

It is very offensive and painful to hear from Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri that Pakistan and India were almost about to ink an agreement on Kashmir, during President Musharraf’s time, when we as Kashmiris do not have an iota of knowledge as to how we were going to be transferred to a new control and how it would have been different from the British sale of Kashmir, when they ‘made over Kashmir to Maharaja for a price of Rupees 75 lakh.” Without any disrespect, we have an issue with Kasuri’s sense of ‘equality’ and ‘dignity’ of people. His claim discredits him as a democrat and as one who has any understanding of UN jurisprudence of Kashmir case and any understanding of article 257 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

This is the beginning of a demographic change and a serious means to humble the Muslim majority character of politics on the Indian side of the cease fire line

Prime Minister Rao of India had offered “sky is the limit” to Kashmiris in 1994. Kashmiris rejected the offer. We are not nomads of any manner, to be counted for a trade over. Each one of us has a beautiful ‘home’ on the river bank or surrounded by lush green fields. Even then we toil on and endure the pain of the loss of our home.

Khurshid Kasuri and others facilitated by Indian outlets at these summits should not run mad to sell us. It is even more offensive and painful, when he says that all Kashmiris except Syed Ali Shah Gilani were on board in inking the so called final ‘agreement’ on Kashmir.If Kashmiri leaders had sold their soul to LUFIFER, they have ended up in Tihar jail. We hope, it is not true that Kashmiri leaders had decided to betray their people, after taking a generation to graves.

On the one hand India is using its outlets at the international level to float such summits to legitimise its action in Kashmir as an internal matter and keeps the Pakistani participants, in the close proximity of third session and on the other it continues with its efforts to consolidate its action of 31 October 2019. The Ministry of Law and Justice in New Delhi, through a notification on 6 March 2020 has constituted, the Delimitation Commission for the purpose of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir is now a Union Territory), to delimit the constituencies “of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the provisions of part V of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 (34 of 2019) and the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 2002 (33 of 2002).

This is the beginning of a demographic change and a serious means to humble the Muslim majority character of politics on the Indian side of the cease fire line. It is surprising that Pakistan Government has not been able to see the Indian methodology aimed at seeking tacit agreement to its actions in Kashmir through Pakistani presence at the WION Global Summit and the next day constitute a Delimitation Commission, to engineer demographic changes in Muslim majority character of Kashmiri politics. Azad Kashmir Government has not done that well before and would not be able to do any better, unless their parent political parties in Pakistan, wake up to a fair sense of duty to the cause of Kashmir.

It is time that Azad Kashmir Government, Government of Pakistan and the Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, perfect a template of sustained action and better their performances. Pakistani Media Houses, should also take a cue from Zee Media and float SUMMITS on Kashmir and help civil society institutions working on the rights movement of the people of Kashmir. It would be helpful, if politicians like Kasuri and his Kashmiri ‘associates’ keep out of negotiating with India. If Kashmiris need to negotiate, they have a just case and jurisprudence to rely upon. We do not need to be ‘made over’ as we were by British in March 1846. Kindly respect the trust of the people of Kashmir.

(The writer is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations)

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