Saturday, 14 March 2015

Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a seminar during 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council - March 2015. SEMINAR ARRANGED BY AIPD-GL (ACTION INTERNATIONALE POUR LA PAIX ET LE DEVELOPPEMENT DANS LA REGION DES GRANDS LACS)

Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a seminar during 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council - March 2015. SEMINAR ARRANGED BY AIPD-GL (ACTION INTERNATIONALE POUR LA PAIX ET LE DEVELOPPEMENT DANS LA REGION DES GRANDS LACS)

Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues aslamo alaikam and very good morning to you all.
In the short time allocated to me, it won’t be possible to encompass all aspects of human rights abuses in South Asia; however, I will try to highlight some of the problems we face in so called Azad Kashmir. Like Gilgit Baltistan, this area is also legally part of the former State of Jammu and Kashmir; and does not belong to India or Pakistan.

We people living in areas of the State occupied by Pakistan are still deprived of fundamental human rights. How sad that despite being a member of the United Nations and a signatory to different declarations on human rights, Pakistani officials openly defy all their obligations on human rights.

I acknowledge that even people of Pakistan are denied various rights, and some groups in Pakistan are systematically targeted and killed because of ethnic and religious reasons. There are some people who try to tacitly justify Pakistani crimes in Jammu and Kashmir by saying that Pakistan has some serious problems and even Pakistani people are suffering. These people forget that Pakistan’s problems are because of their illogical and wrong policies; and we people of Jammu and Kashmir should not be punished for their follies.
Mr Chairman
Right of expression is a fundamental human right; and no society can make progress by suppressing this right. We in Pakistani Occupied Kashmir cannot even complain that we are occupied or expose Pakistani abuses and exploitation of our resources.

Two years ago Mr Arif Shahid was killed in Rawalpindi. We demanded that his killers should be found and punished. Sadly, our pleas and demands fell on deaf ears. Last year I wrote a book called:

Why Arif Shahid was killed? This book was banned by puppet government of Azad Kashmir on instructions from Islamabad. Office of the publisher of the book, Mr Rafiq Khawaja, who is also President of Kashmir National Party for Mirpur district, was raided. His staff was harassed and all the books confiscated. We are taking them to court, but we know the outcome of this petition.

Abdul Hakeem, President of Kashmir National Party Muzaffarabad district, wrote a book on Kashmir last year. This book was also banned on orders of Islamic Republic of Pakistan which claims to speak for people of Jammu and Kashmir and believes in democracy – one can say this is a Pakistani democracy, which is designed to oppress people.

Another Kashmiri writer and a researcher Mohammed Saeed Asad wrote a book called: ‘Book of knowledge on Kashmir’. This book was also banned. He published a map of the former State of Jammu and Kashmir, showing exactly what area is occupied by which country. This map was also banned last month.

A lady called Farzana Yaqoob, who is a daughter of President of this Pakistani colony; and lives in Switzerland, and holds a ministerial post in so called Azad Kashmir. A few days ago she summoned Saeed Asad in her office and reprimanded him for publishing the map. This genius lady has reported to have said, since you live in Azad Kashmir and work in Azad Kashmir, you should only publish maps about Azad Kashmir and not other parts of Jammu and Kashmir State.

It looks that Farzana Yaqoob has not learnt anything from a democratic and civilised society of Switzerland. She has not learnt that you cannot deny people their fundamental right to hold an opinion and express it. When she comes to the UN Human Rights session, she is more interested about rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir on the other side of the divide; and least concerned about the plight of the people living under Pakistani control.

That shows she is not a true human rights defender; but a defender of interests of Islamabad at the cost of Kashmiri interests. All those who serve interests of Islamabad need to wake up and understand that the country has very bleak future; and the ruling elite of that country knows it well, and that is why they have all economic interests outside in other countries.

They know the country has no respect in comity of nations. They stand alone in the entire world on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir because of their erroneous policies and out of date strategies. Other countries know Pakistan is also an occupier. They know Pakistan is not a well wisher of people of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite that some people of Jammu and Kashmir either because of economic interests or misplaced loyalty protect and promote the interest of Islamabad.

These ministers and so called Azad Kashmir government is controlled by Pakistani officials known as Lent Officers, namely Chief Secretary, IG Police, Finance Secretary and Accountant General. Further control is exerted through Ministry of Kashmir Affairs; and Azad Kashmir government officials find themselves at their mercy. Apart from that more than 20 secret agencies operate in these areas to ensure that no one tries to expose Pakistan’s Kashmir policy.

Moreover, Kashmir Council which is chaired by Prime Minister of Pakistan and Pakistani Ministers control everything of importance. Azad Kashmiri government cannot take any decision or challenge decisions of the Kashmir Council on 52 important policy areas. This in practise means they are in worse position politically and administratively than Kashmir under the occupation of India.

Despite these bitter facts, some people of Jammu and Kashmir propagate that areas under Pakistani control, namely Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir are not under occupation. Many people think they have either strong economic and political interests with Pakistan, or they are unable to distinguish between occupation and independence.

One can say this is a modern form of ghulami or slavery, where an enslaved person does not feel he is enslaved, if anything he takes pride in his status in order to be in good books of his political masters. We people of Jammu and Kashmiri must call spade a spade and struggle against all those who occupy us and deny us right to independence.

Mr Chairman, I thank you.

Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir 

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