Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Human Rights situation in Pakistan and Kashmir, speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in Geneva during 25th Session of the UN Human Rights session

Human Rights situation in Pakistan and Kashmir, speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in Geneva during 25th Session of the UN Human Rights session           17 March 2014

In name of Almighty I begin

Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues Aslamo alaikam and very good afternoon

Islamic Republic of Pakistan is in deep crises. Although there is an elected government and the country has a large army with nuclear weapons, but people of Pakistan have no sense of security. Pakistan is virtually in middle of a deadly religious war which is made worse by parties and groups fighting regional and sub national battles. So because of multiple reasons and wrong policies with no sense of directions Pakistanis face death and destruction and no one feels safe.

First responsibility of a government is to save life, property and dignity of people; and provide justice to all citizens. Respective Pakistani governments have miserably failed to provide this. People are killed and they don’t know why they have been killed. Even the political leaders, senior government officials and the men in uniform don’t feel safe. Despite this state of affairs Pakistani government and their officials urge us to join their country. They think we don’t deserve to enjoy fruits of independence.

Pakistan is a neighbouring country of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Perhaps you don’t know how difficult life becomes when you have a bad neighbour. Jammu and Kashmir is a Muslim majority State, especially in 1947, Muslims had majority in all three provinces. The Maharajah of Kashmir thought this new Muslim country - Pakistan will care for Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir, and entered in to a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan giving a special status to this country.

Pakistani rulers had no intention of helping Jammu and Kashmir or Muslims there. They violated the Standstill Agreement and arranged a tribal invasion of Jammu and Kashmir on 22 October 1947, which resulted in killing of tens of thousands of innocent people and division of our country between India and Pakistan. The contest between India and Pakistan to get Jammu and Kashmir hurts us and aggravate the situation. I can give lengthy details what both India and Pakistan have done and how human rights abuses have taken place, but topic of the seminar is human rights situation in Pakistan.

However, Pakistani governments, their security agencies and media make us believe that Pakistan is a friend and well wisher of people of Jammu and Kashmir. Reality is somewhat different. Pakistan had imperial aims, and just like India they wanted to get Jammu and Kashmir because of its strategic location and abundant natural resources.

One can easily prove that Pakistani governments have imperial designs on Kashmir, and no imperialist power could be kind to its colony and the colonised people; and Pakistan is not different. They have worked hard to make a mess of the Kashmir dispute. They took a lead in ensuring that people of Jammu and Kashmir are denied a right of self determination.

How ironic that those Kashmiris who promote a Pakistani agenda on Kashmir, which will result either in a division of the State, or a loss of national identity and sovereignty are called patriots and are promoted as leaders of Kashmiris; but those Kashmiris who advance a Kashmiri agenda, promote peace, equality, national identity, democratic values and oppose extremism, violence, and religious hatred are castigated as anti Pakistan and anti struggle and pro India.

Mr Chairman

Because of time constraint I will not give more details of what damage Pakistan has done to our cause; however, it will be appropriate to give the following details to demonstrate that Pakistani governments exploit us and that they are not our friends.

Pakistan sells Kashmiri property
The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir purchased commercial, residential and agricultural land and properties in the areas which now forms part of Pakistan. Up till 1947, the Maharaja received rent and other benefits for his investement; but since the creation of Pakistan all this property is under the control of Pakistan.

This huge amount of property belonging to the State of Jammu and Kashmir is totally controlled and exploited by Pakistan. The property is worth billions of Rupees. The so called Azad Kashmir government has no control or even knowledge what Pakistan does to that property consisting of thousands of acres of agricultural, residential and commercial proeprty.

Pakistani government has been receiving benefits of this Kashmiri properties since 1947; and they do not have this courtsey even to tell the Azad Kashmir government that they have received so much since 1947. Azad Kashmiri government does not have courage to even enquire about this important issue. Any citizen of Kashmir who dares to ask question is labelled as anti Pakistan and pro India; and fearing this castigation people prefer to remain quiet.

A few days ago one Azad Kashmiri newspaper called Daily Kashmir Express published details of the property which was recently sold by the government of Pakistan. The Chief Editor of this paper, Zahid Tabassam was told to keep his mouth shut. I was conatcted and given details of this. I was told that I should speak against this exploitation of Kashmiri resources and politics of fear and intimidation.

When we speak against this exploitation and injustice we are told you people are anti Pakistan and pro India; as we create problems for Pakistan. If speaking for our rights and protecting our interests is tanatamount to being anti Pakistan than I cannot help this. I have every right to speak and protect my rights and rights of people of Jammua nd Kashmir.

Mr Chairman

Details of the property are as follows:
Commercial property consist of 1048 Kanals
Agricultural land 2426 acres
Agricultural land in cities is 580 Kanals
Property sold:
  1. 468 Kanals land sold from cities;
  2. 452 acres from agricultural land;
  3. 32.5 Kanals or commercial property from Haveli Dayaal Singh;
  4. Nearly 33 Kanals from Sarahe Mian Sultan;
  5. Total land of Kashmir House Lahore which is more than 100 Kanals;
  6. Nolakha Goods 1.6 kanal;
  7. Poonch House Lahore, 36 kanals, no one knows about the remaining 176 Kanals there;
  8. Poonch Housing Scheme, Lahore, 174.6 Kanals;
  9. In district Gujanwala, nearly 5 Kanals;
  10. Some unknown acres of land from Sialkot was given to the army;
  11. From district Jhelum 51.6 Kanals;
  12. Pindi Hazara Transport, 17.6 Kanals;
  13. Sarahi Gand Singh, 4.5 Kanals;
  14. In Raja Bazar Rawalpindi, which is like Oxford Street of Pakistan, 17 shops;
  15. Poonch House, Mardaan, 15 Kanal;
  16. Sheikhupoora, 1353.5 kanals;
  17. Sultanpoor Lahore, 234.8 Kanals;
  18. Unknown acres of the Kashmiri property was used to contrusct BRB canal in Lahore;

After listening to these details people can decide if government of Pakistan can be called a friend and a well wisher of Kashmir. If people of Jammu and Kashmir remain quiet on this exploitation and injustice then they are called good Kashmiris; and those who speak against this are called bad Kashmiris – just like a good Taliban and a bad Taliban. In view of this, I rather be called a bad Kashmiri than a good Kashmiri, because my priority is to fight against injustice and inequality, and what exploiters and ocupiers say does not trouble me.

Mr Chairman, Thank you for your patience.

India is also responsible for human rights abuses
Geneva       17 March 2014

After the speeches of experts an interactive dialogue ensued in a seminar held during the UN Human Rights session in Geneva. Dr Shabir Choudhry who was chairing the seminar, in a reply to a question said:

To us presence of India and Pakistan in various parts of Jammu and Kashmir State is against the law and against our wishes. However, it is strange that those who speak against the Indian wrong doings in Kashmir are promoted as patriots and leaders; and those who speak for all the citizens of the entire divided Princely State and advance pro people and pro peace policies are castigated as not loyal, and anti Kashmiri struggle.

I agree that India has failed to fulfil its responsibilities assumed under the Provisional Accession and the UNCIP Resolutions. Prime responsibility of every government is to protect life, liberty and property of its citizens. Although Jammu and Kashmir is not legally part of India, but India has responsibility to ensure that innocent people do not become victims of inequality, injustice and oppression.

India’s claim to be the biggest democracy is tarnished when people of Jammu and Kashmir continue to suffer and human rights abuses are still taking place? We don’t know the exact number of people killed since the start of the Pakistani sponsored militancy in 1988; and how many of them were militants, and how many were innocent civilians.

In any case, it is responsibility of the rulers to maintain law and order, and ensure that innocent people do not suffer; and where innocent citizens are victims the offenders must be made accountable for their actions. Human rights abuses, no matter where they take place should be opposed and condemned.

In this interactive dialogue the following people took active part: KNP Chairman Abbas Butt, UKPNP Chairman Shaukat Kashmiri, JKDLP leader Junaid Qureshi, Human rights defenders Jamil Maqsood, Altaf Wani, Amjad Yousaf, Bilal Baloch and Mr Jacob.
Dr Shabir Choudhry replying to a question during interactive dialogue; Mr Abbas Butt is on his left and Mr Maurice Katala on the right.

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