Sunday, 13 March 2016
Assuaging the complexities of the Kashmir Issue by freezing it! Junaid Qureshi
Before starting with my speech, I would like to congratulate the organizers for hosting such an important and successful event at this epitome of diplomacy. I am thankful to you for inviting me once again to share my views and become part of your endeavours. I am hopeful that going forward, you and I can together strive to provide more space to the youth of Jammu & Kashmir, in order to enable them to share their views in such august gatherings.
Being a Kashmiri Muslim from the Valley of Kashmir, makes me worry about the injustice and human right violations there. At the same time, I - as a Kashmiri - am equally concerned about the fate of the Kashmiris living in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan Administered Kashmir, Jammu & Ladakh.
For me, the State of Jammu & Kashmir comprises much more than the Kashmir Valley only.
I am here as a representative of the whole state of Jammu & Kashmir. A state which belongs to all State Subjects, irrespective of their religion, caste, creed or colour. A state which is equally mine as it is of Dogras, Kashmiri Pandits, Bakarwals, Dards, Baltis, Ladakhis, Pushwaris, Gujjars and all other ethnicities.
It is with the utmost respect and with the utmost pain as well, that I have to conclude that the international community of Human Rights defenders along with the United Nations has failed us Kashmiris.
It couldn’t stop Pakistan from proposing changes to the clauses of the UN resolutions on Jammu & Kashmir and thereby allowed the issue to transform into a mere territorial dispute between India and Pakistan.
Since the dawn of the 22nd of October, 1947, it has also failed in freeing my land from invading forces.
It could not prevent Pakistan from gifting more than 5000sq miles of Jammu & Kashmir to China under the pretext of their Border Agreement of 1963.
It failed again when the issue of 20 million Kashmiris was further marginalized into a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan when they both signed the Shimla Agreement.
It failed to act when a proxy war was started by the Pakistani military establishment in the Kashmir Valley, whereby it used innocent young Kashmiris as sacrificial lambs.
It also, did not react when human right violations were committed by the Indian Security Forces.
It silently watched when ethnic cleansing of my Kashmiri Pandit brethren took place by the hands of fundamentalists.
And currently, it is silently silent when Pakistan is undertaking steps to formally annex Gilgit Baltistan, while China is aiming to cement its stake in the Kashmir-issue by building an illegal economic corridor through this part of Jammu & Kashmir.
Both these actions of Pakistan and China are deliberate attempts to further exacerbate the complexities of the Kashmir-Issue and jeopardize any kind of solution while totally negating the interests of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
The Kashmir-issue along with its many interrelated layers like proxy warfare, political and historical sensitivities and the contention over water resources remains the biggest threat to peace and development in South-Asia. Sadly, we Kashmiris continue to suffer the heaviest losses because of the hostility between India and Pakistan.
Let’s face it, ladies and gentlemen.
We all have failed in solving the Kashmir-Issue and liberating the Kashmiri people and the common people of India and Pakistan from uncertainty and hostility.
Yet, my longing for peace has not been extinguished. It is because of this deep desire for peace that I have come here again.
With a wish.
A wish to stop the bloodshed and the destruction of my generation.
A wish of peace.
Peace, which should be superior to anyone’s ideology or stated positions. We Kashmiris are fed-up with this violence. This borrowed gun has brought us to the edge of destruction. It has looted us from our dignity and snatched our identity. It has corrupted our pillars of secularism, brotherhood, tolerance and Kashmiriyat.
It must stop before it obliterates our very existence.
The Kashmir-Issue undoubtedly requires a political solution, but first the people of Kashmir, India and Pakistan are in urgent need of liberation from fear and uncertainty.
Maybe solving the Kashmir-Issue is a task too great for our generation. Perhaps we should be compelled to conclude from the past 70 odd years that solutions can only be found in an atmosphere of tranquillity, which we have failed to conceive.
Based on that, I think that we all should try to establish that atmosphere of tranquillity, so that the next generation might have a much more realistic chance to solve this deadlock.
I have come here to make an appeal to the International Community, the United Nations and the human rights defenders present here; We Kashmiris need your help in facilitating an atmosphere of tranquillity, mutual trust and dialogue between India and Pakistan which could pave the way for an alternative narrative in the future. A solution oriented narrative, which can only be followed if a harmonious environment is created.
I believe that we should formally freeze the Kashmir-issue for the next 20 years in order to de-freeze it.
During these twenty years, India and Pakistan should solve all other outstanding issues which will ensure economic and political interdependency among both the countries, demolish the erected walls of hatred and eventually assuage the complexities of this conflict.
While freezing the Kashmir-issue, both countries should demonstrate the utmost flexibility by giving something back to us Kashmiris. This will pave the way of satisfying our genuine demands, create a tangible sense of hope and at the same time address our intangible, yet undeniable yearning of regaining our lost dignity.
Total withdrawal of armed forces in both parts of Jammu & Kashmir, revocation of laws like PPO, AFSPA and PSA, immediate halt to terrorism and religious extremism sponsored by rogue elements in the Pakistani military establishment and extremist religious parties, release of all political prisoners in Indian- and Pakistani Administered Kashmir, establishment of judicial enquiry commissions on disappearances and political killings like the one of Arif Shahid in 2013, rejection of violence and displays thereof by all stakeholders without any selectiveness, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits according to their wishes, dispensation of justice and opening up of the borders in order to facilitate people-to-people interaction, are immediate steps which could provide some relief to the Kashmiri people and at the same time address the growing trust deficit.
The de facto border, LOC, should be made irrelevant and free movement of goods, persons, services and capital should be guaranteed. Pakistan should ensure that no further attempts will be made to disassemble Gilgit Baltistan from Jammu & Kashmir.
A sustainable economy consisting of models for industrial, agricultural and touristic developments should be encouraged and invested upon by both countries.
Full autonomy should be given to the Kashmiri people on both sides by constituting regional assemblies in all the five regions and only the portfolios of Defence, Foreign affairs and Currency should be managed by India and Pakistan respectively in their current administered parts of J&K.
Simultaneously, an institutionalized Intra-Kashmir dialogue should be facilitated in all the 5 regions of Jammu & Kashmir, in order to enable us Kashmiris to create a genuine consensus regarding our future.
I firmly believe that an everlasting solution to the Kashmir-issue will naturally follow this freezing period. When both countries will have solved all other outstanding issues and Kashmiris would have liberated themselves from violence, religious extremism and proxy warfare, none of the parties would be willing, NOT to solve this entanglement.
The interrelated stakes, collective appetite for peace, economic progress and the respective introspection among all stakeholders would necessitate a solution based on the principles of give-and-take.
The interdependency will inevitably make giving less painful, while it will diminish the urge of taking.
It has already taken too much from us Kashmiris.
We cannot afford to give anything, anymore.
Speech of Junaid Qureshi during a Side-event seminar, ‘Human Rights situation in South Asia’, at the 31st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on the 10th of March 2016.