Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Fight against terrorism and rights of Kashmiri people

Fight against terrorism and rights of Kashmiri people

Speech delivered by Dr Shabir Choudhry in a seminar at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 11 March 2008. The Seminar was organised by Interfaith International and Co sponsored by JKCHR.

Topic of the Seminar was: The democratic transition in Pakistan, fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and its effects on the rights of the Kashmiri people.

Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues Aslamo alaykam

I am grateful to Dr Charles Graves for providing this opportunity to me to speak to you on this important topic: terrorism, human rights and right of self - determination.

In a way it has become political fashion to talk against terrorism and yet continue with the same policies that breed more violence and terrorism. Some of these people speak against violence and terrorism for political convenience and provide lip service to the cause of fighting 'terrorism'.

If you carefully analyse their policies which they pursue to eradicate terrorism, they are actually designed to promote violence and terrorism. Either they are not sincere with this cause or they believe that they can put out fire by use of petrol; and by indiscriminately killing innocent people which include women and children.

Similarly it has become fashion for some to talk about human rights and yet continue to deprive people of basic human rights. They like to come to Geneva and other international platforms and preach on importance of human rights and peoples rights of self - determination.

They also like to criticise other countries on issue of human rights but commit far worse atrocities in name of national security, national interest, establishing writ of government and fighting a war on terrorism. They change political vocabulary or terminology in order to fool people or to pursue their imperialist and anti democratic policies.

Unfortunately like some other countries our neighbouring country Pakistan has mastered this art as well. They can pursue imperialist policies in Kashmir and still call it Kashmiri peoples right of self- determination. They can interfere in neighbouring countries in name of jihad or self- determination of people; and train people to create chaos in name of national security, and 'strategic depth' in case of Afghanistan, and still claim to be champions of human rights and pursuing a 'principled' stand on issues.

With one stroke of pen they can expel their own Chief Justice and accuse him for cheating with car petrol claim. They can house arrest him and his children, deprive them of basic rights, stop him from even going to mosque for prayers, stop his children from going to schools and still they claim that they are doing it in order to promote democracy.

They can use brutal force on peaceful demonstrators or on those lawyers who wished to meet and give flowers to imprisoned Chief Justice. His government commit all these atrocities in name of promoting democracy and strengthening rule of law.

Pakistani officials have different standard of human rights then the rest of the world. One can say they are sincere in democracy and in providing Pakistani version of human rights to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. One can also say that they trained people to go to Kashmir with guns and hand grenades that people of Jammu and Kashmir could also be taught some lessons in their version of democracy and human rights.

One can also say that they are sincerely promoting peace and human rights in Gilgit and Baltistan by not allowing them to have their own constituent assembly and an independent judicial system to protect their civil liberties. Perhaps one should not criticise Pakistani governments for this: one can only export what they have. They have this kind of democracy and this standard of human rights, as we are virtually their colony, and at best this is what they can pass on to this. In their view, after all we are colonised people and do not even deserve to have what people of Pakistan have.

Now it up to us – Kashmiris- to accept Pakistani version of democracy and standard of human rights or reject it; and tell rulers of Pakistan that you cannot treat us like this anymore. We must tell them that you cannot nourish plant of democracy with guns and F16 fighters.

We need to tell them that people of Pakistan are also unhappy with their policies. Human rights abuse is taking place inside Sindh, Balochistan, Frontier and Punjab; and to peoples unrest and protests you have only bombs and helicopter gunships to offer. This policy is not going to work. Change your policies before it is too late.

People of Pakistan have given their verdict: they don't want continuation of these policies. They want to enjoy fruits of democracy. They want to have rule of law and no more invasion of their capital by the army which is supposed to protect borders and not trample human rights inside Pakistan and Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan.

Some reports suggest that General Musharaf feels uncomfortable in his civilian clothes. He dictated his terms in uniform, preached democracy while sitting in a tank and helicopter gunship. He is accustomed to that role where he made rules and changed them as it suited them.

Let us hope that this dictator in Islamabad accepts verdict of the people and Pakistani people enjoy democracy and basic human rights. Also I hope that the change of government in Pakistan will result in new era of friendship, peace and stability in South Asia; and we people of State of Jammu and Kashmir, including people of Gilgit and Baltistan will also benefit from this breath of fresh air, and benefit from fruits of democracy and rule of law.

I thank you Chair.

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