Kashmiri protesters outside the UN building call for the liberation of Kashmir from Indian rule

NEW YORK: Azad Kashmir President Lawyer Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry has urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a special envoy in a decisive move to resolve the decades-old dispute over Kashmir based on UN Security Council resolutions that promised the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination.

He was addressing a large and noisy gathering of Kashmiris and Pakistanis outside the United Nations building to denounce India’s reign of terror in Kashmir, as India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday afternoon.

President Sultan Chaudhry, who was the guest of honour, denounced India’s ‘illegal’ measures of August 5, 2019 which revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, amid vehement anti-Indian slogans and several waved signs.

The placards read: “Modi: face of Indian Terrorism”, “Kashmiri Lives Matter Too”, “End the Occupation: Free Kashmir”, “Stand Up: Speak Up: Free Kashmir”, “India: Honor UN Resolutions”, “Freedom for all, Freedom for Kashmir”, “Indian forces: Out of Kashmir”, “Demilitarize Kashmir”, “UN: Wake up”, “No justice, no peace” and “India: Free Yasin Malik and d other political prisoners. ”

A number of Sikhs also joined the rally, with Dr Amarjit Singh, the head of the Washington-based Khalistan Affairs Center, expressing solidarity with the Kashmiri struggle for freedom from India.

“We stand with you against our common enemy,” he told the cheering crowd.

In his address, President Sultan Chaudhry said his tireless effort to internationalize the Kashmir issue will continue with full vigor. It was the duty of the governments of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan to shine the spotlight on the human rights violations which have now reached unprecedented proportions. He unequivocally condemned the heinous act of changing the demographic character of the region.

Sardar Haleem Khan, chairman of JKLF and main organizer of the rally, stressed that no Kashmir solution will be acceptable if it does not recognize the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. He deplored the life imprisonment handed down by an Indian special court in New Delhi against Muhammad Yasin Malik, one of Kashmir’s most prominent leaders and chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, President of the Global Forum for Peace and Justice, called for the application of international law not to be selective in the resolution of international conflicts. The Secretary-General has drawn attention to the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir caused by large-scale atrocities perpetrated by 900,000 Indian military and paramilitary personnel on unarmed men, women and children. He warned world powers that the status quo in Kashmir, if left unchanged, will only lead to further deterioration of the situation and can never be justified under international law.

Dr Imtiaz Khan, a professor at George Washington University Medical Center, said abuses against innocent people in Indian-occupied Kashmir continue unabated. After the revocation of Articles 370 and 35A, the laws that end Kashmir’s special status, more than 900,000 military and paramilitary occupying forces are holding the people hostage.

Daily crackdowns are routine and in the process civilians, especially young people, are targeted, he said. During search operations, under the pretext of flushing out militants, civilian homes were looted. All these measures are taken as part of a well-planned program so that Kashmiris are confined to ghettos, their job opportunities are scuttled and they are deprived of religious freedom.

“We call on the United Nations to take practical steps that will deter India from engaging in gross human rights abuses against the innocent Kashmiri people and urge them to participate in tripartite negotiations involving Pakistan and real leadership of Kashmir.

Sardar Sawar Khan, former adviser to the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, condemned the enactment of the Domicile Act which aims to change the demography of Kashmir and called for the start of negotiations.

Jennifer C. Burleigh