UNITED NATIONS, Aug 31 (APP):The UN Security Council has an obligation to resolve the decades-old Kashmir problem by implementing its own resolutions that pledged the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people to decide their destiny, a senior Pakistani diplomat said Friday, as she warned of a bigger humanitarian crisis in the curfew-bound disputed territory.
“The whole world subscribes to the principle of self-determination. Why should it be denied to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and, what we ask, are they denied because they are Muslims,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi posed the question in an interview with Al-Arabiya television as India’s military lockdown on Kashmir entered its 26 day.
“It is time for the international community to act; it is time for them to act before it is too late,” the Pakistani envoy said, pointing out that like the issue of Palestine, the issue of Kashmir has also been on the Security Council agenda.
The international community should respond to the fast deteriorating situation in occupied Kashmir because it posed a danger to peace and security of South Asian region, ambassador Lodhi said, adding that Pakistan believes it also endangered international peace, and that the 15-member Council should live up to its responsibility.
She called India’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status as “illegal and illegitimate”, saying the Security Council acknowledged the fact that it was an international dispute when the 15-member body met recently.
Replying to a question, Ambassador Lodhi said, “There has been human rights crisis for seven decades in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. What has happened more recently means that the human rights crisis has been further aggravated and exacerbated.
“There is a communication blackout, people cannot communicate with anybody, telephone lines are not working, the Internet has been suspended, people are not allowed to go out and pray,” she said.
“The anger and rage is there, it has been bottled up because as I said people have been imprisoned,” she said. “Once the curfew is lifted, after all no curfew can be imposed forever, naturally, this anger and rage will find an expression, in protest.”
About human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, the Pakistani envoy said such abuses have been fully documented by a number of organizations and the Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human rights has also issued two reports in this regard — the most recent one was in July.
“We have always wanted the international community to respond to the way that Human rights are being violated and as I said the situation is now worsened to the point that 14 million people of Jammu and Kashmir are being held as prisoners in their own land, in their own homes, it has become an armed cage,” Ambassador Lodhi said.
“Over 700,000 Indian troops have been deployed and an additional number of troops have also been sent to the valley. And the additional troops mean what? That an occupying power is using all instruments of repression, to subdue the people of Jammu and Kashmir and yet we also know from reports that we are receiving, and these are international media outlets receiving these reports, that over 500 protest demonstrations have already been held in the last 3 to 4 weeks, so people are resisting the kind of state terrorism that has been inflicted upon them.”
Pakistan has raised the grave situation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and at the Security Council. “What we are saying is: prevent a bigger crisis from erupting because already there is a human rights crisis and humanitarian crisis in Occupied Kashmir. This should not be allowed to turn or morph into something much bigger.”
“As far as my country is concerned,” Ambassador Lodhi said, “we would like to see a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute. We would like to see a negotiated settlement and we would also like to see the UN live up to its responsibility.”
Asked how could the Security Council stop demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir, she said there was a specific Council resolution, which prohibits any party to this dispute from bringing about any change, any material change on the ground. “So, already the intention to change the demographics of the State of Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian authorities is in flagrant violation of this Council resolution.”
About US president Donald Trump’s statement that India and Pakistan can solve Kashmir problem on their own, the Pakistani envoy said that New Delhi had suspended the bilateral dialogue over three years ago. “India refuses to talk to Pakistan and in any case, the bilateral track never limited Pakistan from raising the issue internationally because it is an international dispute and the Security Council has an obligation.”
Meanwhile, Ambassador Lodhi was asked by BBC to comment on an Indian spokesman’s statement that Pakistan should accept the ground realities in Kashmir. She said that it was India that should accept the ground realities. When the curfew is lifted in occupied Kashmir, the only voice the Indians would hear is, “India: Leave Jammu and Kashmir!”
“The people of Kashmir do not want the status quo — they want freedom”.
On Friday, officers of the Pakistan Mission to the UN and the Consulate General in New York, carrying the national and Kashmiri flags, observed “Kashmir Hour” to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people at this critical juncture.