New York: (Special Correspondent) Pakistan’s forceful and determined campaign to highlight the grave situation in the curfew-bound Indian occupied Kashmir has led to the revival of the decades-old dispute at the United Nations, Ambassador Munir Akram told a large gathering in New York on Thursday.
“For the first time in 50 years, the Jammu Kashmir issue is now fully alive at the UN,” he said in a spirited speech at the meeting arranged by Pakistan’s Consulate General to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day.
“The entire world has seen how the nation has come together to raise voice for our Kashmir brethren after the illegal actions taken by India on August 5,” Ambassador Akram, who is Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, said, referring to the fateful day when India annexed the disputed state, placed it under lockdown and carried out thousands of arrests of Kashmiris under a communications blockade.
As a result of the efforts of Pakistan Mission’s efforts, the Pakistani envoy said, the UN Security Council has discussed the Kashmir dispute three times in less than six months. In its last meeting on Jan. 15, he said all 15 members voiced extreme concern over the human rights violations in occupied Kashmir and called for an end to those abuses.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and other high-ranking UN officials and independent human rights rapporteurs had condemned the Indian actions and reiterated Jammu and Kashmir’s disputed status and that it should be resolved according to the UNSC resolutions that pledged the right to self-determination to the Kashmiri people.
“Kashmir is now our number one priority,” the Pakistani envoy said, while urging the cheering Pakistani and Kashmiri community members to work together and become ambassadors of Kashmir and the voice of its people.
He said India’s strategy was to instill fear among the people of Kashmir by unleashing a reign of terror through hundreds and thousands of Indian troops to force them to abandon their struggle for freedom.
But, he said, Prime Minister Imran Khan, backed by the people of Pakistan, would stand by the people of Kashmir and not allow India to break the will of Kashmiris.
He said the prime minister’s momentous speech to the UN General Assembly in September last years made a positive impact on the international community as he spoke from his heart to voice his determination to pursue a peaceful settlement of Kashmir dispute.
At the UN, Ambassador Akram said that Pakistan was now working on a three-track approach to further advance the case on Kashmir.
The tracks are: Highlighting dire human rights situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir; Reaffirming the legitimacy of the freedom struggle of Kashmiri people based on their UN-pledged right to self-determination; and to reassert that Pakistan stood for peace and sought a political settlement, not through use of force.
Pakistan, he said, was also exposing the rise of fascist and supremacist ideology that has engulfed India, a serious development that could have a detrimental impact on the peace and security of the region.
“Whatever is happening in Kashmir and in rest of India is manifestation of this hate-filled exclusionary ideology,” the Pakistani envoy said.
Underscoring that the community also has a critical role in exposing this mindset, he noted that the image of India has taken a serious hit and “we need to utilize this to our advantage.”
“We all need to be sure that we are on the right side of history and we have a strong moral as well as legal case,” Ambassador Akram said. But India, he said, was now on the wrong side of history.
At the outset, the ambassador underscored the significance of the day, saying, “February 5 is just a symbol, for us every day is a day of solidarity with the people of Kashmir.”
During the event, messages were from President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan conveying Pakistan’s full moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmiri people until the realization of their legitimate right to self-determination were read out.
The president’s message was delivered by Consul General Ayesha Ali while the prime minister’s message was read out by Muhammad Aamir Khan, deputy permanent representative to the UN.
The meeting was also address by Kashmiri activist Ghazala Habib and Salam Ravala, a Kashmiri lawyer, on the political, social and legal aspects of Kashmir, saying Pakistan’s case was legally and morally strong.
Sardar Sawar Khan, a former member of Azad Kashmir Council, profusely thanked Pakistan for its consistent support to the Kashmir cause. He also made a case for Pakistan to pull out of the 1972 Simla agreement as no progress has been made towards a resolution of the Kashmir dispute in the course of bilateral talks.