Foreign Minister Billawal Bhutto Zardari Address to the Legislative Assembly of Azad Jammu and Kashmir(22 May 2023)
Deputy Speaker Legislative Assembly, Mr. Riaz Gujjar,
Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Chaudhary Anwar-ul-Haq,
Members of the Legislative Assembly,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’m here today to express solidarity with you solidarity with the people of Kashmir at this critical juncture.
Mr. Speaker, Jammu and Kashmir dispute is the unfinished agenda of the partition of the subcontinent. The rights and aspirations of the Kashmiri people were trampled upon by machinations and intrigue. The territory of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, where we congregate today was liberated at the cost of enormous sweat and blood.
We have not forgotten the massacre of Muslims in Jammu region in 1947. They were among the first martyrs of your movement.
Mr. Speaker, history cannot be changed. Ironically, today as India deviously tries to convince the world that Jammu and Kashmir is but an undisputed part of her territory. But history remembers that it was India that took the Jammu and Kashmir, the Jammu and Kashmir dispute to the Security Council as a dispute yet to be resolved. There, the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir was internationally recognized, and it was decided that the final disposition of the state shall be made through a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices. For more than seven decades now. The Kashmiri people have been denied their inalienable right.
Today, I asked the world if a country can be allowed to renege on its solemn commitments to the United Nations, break its own promises and blatantly violate international law just because they want to. I must emphasize here that the commitments under the UN Security Council resolutions are sacrosanct. They are neither surveilled to the whims of a jingoistic political party, nor diluted by the passage of time. India’s continued denial of the rights of the Kashmiri people is wrongful illegal act no amount of diplomatic duplicity, or Indian state perpetrated terror can change this fact. India will have to fulfill its obligations to the Security Council by granting the Kashmiri people their lawful right to self-determination.
Mr. Speaker, today in occupied Kashmir has become an open prison. A prison with Kashmiri Muslims are forced to breed fear 1000s of them killed disappeared or blinded their lands grabbed their properties confiscated or bulldoze, that culture disintegrated. Their media muzzled, the occupying Indian forces run rampant with arbitrary detentions, torture, extrajudicial killings of Kashmiri Muslims. This mayhem continues under draconian laws, allowing complete impunity for the Indian occupying forces. This wretched perpetual and systemic Indian barbarism not just violate international law, it makes a mockery of the accepted norms of fundamental human rights. I asked those who champion the rules based international order and place a premium on protecting and promoting human rights. How can they turn a blind eye to this savagery? It is indeed, not wise to sacrifice these timeless principles for short term interests. One cannot wax lyrical about international law and the United Nations Security Council resolutions in Europe in the European context, and then turn a blind eye to the violation of the same international law in the Kashmiri context.
Mr. Speaker, India’s unilateral and illegal actions of August 5 2019 opened a new chapter of oppression India’s ultimate aim is to convert Kashmiris into a dispossessed and disempowered minority in their own land, the fresh delimitations domicile certificates to millions of outsiders, and addition of millions of temporary residents to the voters list are part of a well thought out strategy to change Kashmir’s demography and its political landscape. Pakistan outrightly rejects these unilateral and illegal steps. How can the world be a silent bystander when a large country usurps the rights guaranteed by the Security Council, and instead use brute force to suppress those rights? Isn’t it the same world that is upholding these principles elsewhere, while remaining completely oblivious to them in Kashmir?
Mr. Speaker, as we speak, India is hosting the meeting of a tourism Working Group in Srinagar meetings of a consultative Forum on Youth Affairs, why 20 has already been held in Jammu, Leh and Srinagar in the past few weeks. This is yet another display of India’s arrogance on the world stage, Indian occupation of a territory that is recognized as disputed under international law. India is misusing its position as chair of the G-20. A forum created to address global financial and economic issues with utter disregard for the Security Council resolution, the UN Charter and its principle India’s facade of normalcy in Kashmir is met by the harsh reality that occupied Kashmir remains one of the most militarized zones on the planet.
Mr. Speaker, normal areas are not under siege by millions of troops. Normal areas are not operated under the so-called governance rule. Normal areas do not have unidentified graves and half windows. In normal areas people are allowed to travel abroad, and journalists are free to report how can India possibly claim that normalcy has returned to Kashmir? I wish to remind the Indian leaders that unilateral steps in Jammu and Kashmir can neither record legitimacy to their occupation, nor suppress the true sentiments of the Kashmiri people. Gimmickry cannot replace legitimacy. If India wants to be a superpower, Mr. Speaker, then India must be acting like a superpower. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Affairs speaks clearly on the Srinagar meeting and claims that India is providing “a veneer of support to a facade of normalcy”. Pointing out the blatant human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, he has drawn an apt conclusion that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir should be “decried and condemned, not pushed under the rug and ignored”.
Mr. Speaker, I remind the world that there are two reports on the situation in occupied Kashmir by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued in 2018 and 2019. Those of us who are interested in upholding human rights are morally bound to pay attention to these reports.
Mr. Speaker, the word Pakistan is incomplete without Kashmir, the people of Pakistan and the people of Kashmir have a unique affinity based on geographical proximity, shared history, commonality of religion, we have shared joy shared sorrows, we share the same hopes the same dreams our hearts beat is one. Pakistan cannot ignore what happens in Jammu and Kashmir. It is a party to the dispute. For us, it is not a matter of choice. We are duty bound to play our role in the just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the people of Kashmir.
Mr. Speaker, my presence here today is a testimony of our nation’s intergenerational support and lasting commitment to the Kashmir Cause. We want good relations with our neighbors including India. However, good relations can only be achieved through dispute resolution, and not through dispute denialism. durable peace in South Asia remains contingent upon the settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Despite our consistent advocacy for constructive engagement and result orientated dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. India, unabatedly remains hostile. It’s regressive actions have in fact, further vitiated the environment and the onus therefore, remains on India to take the necessary steps to create an enabling environment conducive for a meaningful and result oriented dialogue. During my recent visit, to GOA to attend the SCO meeting, I repeatedly said that India would have to revert to the situation on the fourth of August 2019 to work out a way forward.
Mr. Speaker, India has also been trying to use the terrorism bogeyman to mass the indigenous Kashmiri struggle for the legitimate rights to self-determination. It uses the same bogey to blame Pakistan and justify its brutal repression of the Kashmiri people. This is a complete travesty of justice. There is a clear distinction between terrorism and a people’s genuine quest for freedom. Terrorism cannot be and should not be used as an excuse to deny the Kashmiri people their fundamental rights and their fundamental freedoms.
Mr. Speaker, I also want to emphasize that the biliterate Indian statements about Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan should be raising alarm bells across the world. These are not isolated statements. They epitomize a political party that nurtures and holds fascist, majoritarianism and religious jingoism. If a billion people are economically and politically incentivized into hate mongering, the results can be disastrous. We could be sleepwalking towards South Asia’s Armageddon. Notwithstanding India’s military and political rhetoric, Pakistan has exercised maximum restraint. Pakistan does not want another conflict. However, it has the will and capacity to respond forcefully and effectively and defend resolutely against any act of aggression.
Mr. Speaker, Justice delayed is justice denied. I appeal to all men and women of conscious across the world to urge the occupying forces of India to:
One, Rescind its unilateral and illegal actions of the fifth of August 2019 and the subsequent steps;
Two, Implement fully the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and allow the Kashmiri people to freely exercise their right to self-determination through a UN supervised plebiscite;
Three, To provide solemn assurances that it will not change the occupied territories demographic composition and not allow non-Kashmiris to acquire property or residency in Jammu and Kashmir;
Four, To halt its human rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Five, To repeal its draconian emergency laws, withdraw its heavy military presence through Kashmiri cities, towns and villages;
Six, To provide unhindered access to UN OHCHR, OIC and human rights organizations and international media to investigate report on the situation in occupied Kashmir.
I salute the courage of the Kashmiri people and I pay rich tribute to the martyrs. I offer my sincere sympathies to the population living close to the Line of Control, who have suffered enormously. I assure the Kashmiri people of Pakistan’s unstinted moral, diplomatic and political support. We have stood by them for decades, and I assure you that we will stand for as long as it takes our Kashmiri brethren to achieve their legitimate rights. We wish to see a day where people across the Line of Control enjoy the same rights and freedoms as are being enjoyed by the rest of the world. I thank you for affording me this opportunity to speak May peace be with you.