Asia - Pacific

'Pakistan to raise Kashmir issue at every world forum in 2020’

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Pakistani envoy Qazi said India reneged from commitment made at UN on Jan 5, 1949

Zehra Nur Düz   | 05.01.2020
'Pakistan to raise Kashmir issue at every world forum in 2020’ Pakistan's Ambassador to Turkey, Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi speaks during an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency in Ankara, Turkey on January 5, 2020. ( Fatih Kurt - Anadolu Agency )


Jammu and Kashmir remains one of the oldest unresolved international conflicts on the UN table.
On Dec 31, 1947, India sought the UN Security Council's (UNSC) intervention, complaining that Pakistan was aiding the invaders who had overrun the state. For 23 years (1948-1971) the UNSC adopted 23 resolutions, established organizations and appointed various officials to deal with the issue.  

Pakistan's envoy Qazi gives exclusive interview to Anadolu Agency

On Jan. 5, 1949, the UN Commission for India and Pakistan adopted a resolution calling for a free and impartial plebiscite to let the people of Jammu and Kashmir decide about accession to either India or Pakistan. Both countries accepted the principle but failed to agree due to differences in interpretation of the procedure. Seventy-one years down the line, Pakistan's Ambassador to Turkey, Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, explained whether this resolution is still relevant and the failure of the world body and parties involved in the implementation of the resolution.

Pakistan's envoy Qazi gives exclusive interview to Anadolu Agency

Anadolu Agency: The Kashmir dispute is the oldest unresolved international conflict in the world? Why is it hanging for so long?

Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi (MSSQ): There is always more than one party involved in a dispute. And in this case, neither Kashmiris nor the Pakistanis can be blamed for this delay. The blame lies principally, in fact, totally with India.

There are several statements of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on record stating that India has pledged the right of self-determination to the Kashmiris and the Kashmiris will decide their future themselves. But unfortunately, over time, Nehru himself and then subsequent Indian governments, under probably a very well thought out scheme have been retreating from the commitments and from what the international law requires them to do because, primarily, I think the objective all along was to take the territory of Jammu and Kashmir and they make it a part of the Indian union against the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The latest manifestation and the most blatant manifestation of it was seen on Aug. 5, 2019, when the special articles in the Indian constitution granted some amount of autonomy to the people of Kashmir and the territory of Jammu and Kashmir were also abrogated.

Q: India says and has been convincingly trying to tell the world that revocation of the special provision of the Indian constitution was an internal matter and it doesn't affect the larger issue. What exactly has changed after India's decision in diplomatic terms?

MSSQ: Nothing has changed in diplomatic terms. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute continues an international dispute. There are more than a dozen UN resolutions on Kashmir.

What has changed is the Indian mentality towards the issue. Now, feeling more brazen, thinking that with time the Kashmiris yearn for the right of self-determination will get diluted.

India can say whatever it says. The fact remains that Kashmir is an international dispute. The fact is that the people of Kashmir have not accepted first the Indian occupation and now the Indian annexation.  

Grateful to friends like Turkey

Q: Since India revoked special status on Aug. 5, we didn’t see many countries except Turkey, China, and Malaysia, coming forward so forthrightly, to support the cause of Kashmir or Pakistan. Why was it so?

MSSQ: There are two aspects to this issue. Firstly, we are grateful to our friends the Turks for standing up for what is right and having the moral courage to speak. We are also thankful to Iran and Malaysia that have also spoken up.

But what is much more important in many ways is also that there has been a groundswell of severe strong criticism of what India has done all across the world. There are political parties in the European Parliament, the British Labor Party, the UN, the U.S. Congress, ordinary citizens, NGOs, human rights activists, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, media agencies, who spoke out.

Sometimes the government will not be speaking, but the people have shown understanding and sympathy with the just cause of the Kashmiris and it has been a very heartening aspect of this unfortunate recent episode since India revoked special provisions.

We hope that this support will continue. And the governments that are the result of the wishes of the people all across the world will also have the courage to speak the truth about what is happening to Kashmir and what needs to be done to ameliorate their suffering.

Q: A key condition for the plebiscite was the withdrawal of Pakistan from the areas under its control and India withdrawing individuals who were not residents of the state. India has put blame on Pakistan for not fulfilling the condition of withdrawing its forces. What is Pakistan's position on this?

MSSQ: Well, if you look at the history of the Kashmir dispute it is a cascade of lies, misrepresentations, and abuse of the situation on the ground on part of India to just consolidate its occupation in Kashmir. This is just one way of trying to deflect attention from the broader, terrible Indian history of occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, of using all available means to consolidate its grip. If this was the fact why does India now have by our estimates 900,000 troops in Jammu and Kashmir?  

Outcome of UNSC discussions

Q: Earlier this year, it was the first time since 1971, when the UNSC discussed Kashmir. What was the outcome of these discussions?

MSSQ: The most important outcome was -- and this brings me back to your previous question also about India saying this is an internal matter -- it is not an internal matter as the UN Security Council is discussing this matter. It was a manifestation of the seriousness with which the world is beginning to view because Kashmir first and foremost is an issue of more than 8 million people being denied the right of self-determination by a power, which happens to call itself the world's biggest democracy.

But Kashmir is also a very serious issue that threatens the peace and stability of the whole region. I just draw your attention to what happened in February this year, when the two countries almost came to war, when India crossed the international border and bombed Pakistani territory without any provocation. We had to respond and, in the process, we destroyed Indian aircraft.

The two countries need to come and sit down together and have a meaningful discussion because, at the heart of it, people are suffering. There is a serious situation of peace and security in the region also.

Q: Is the plebiscite plan still relevant, when almost everybody in the world community is asking India and Pakistan to settle issues bilaterally?

MSSQ: It does not matter to us how the solution is achieved, bilaterally or multilaterally. Give diplomacy a chance, in which the intention on both sides is to address the situation. Give Kashmiris their voice. We are prepared to do that. Whether it is bilaterally or multilaterally. There is a saying in our national language, Urdu, what matters is eating the fruit of mangoes not counting the mangoes.

Our preference is to settle the issue through a plebiscite, where people have a say. India claims itself to be the world's largest democracy in the world, why is it afraid of giving the Kashmiris a voice under a democratic method of an impartial plebiscite administered by the UN Security Council?

Q: Why Pakistan has not been able to convince UNSC members to intervene and settle the dispute forever?

MSSQ: The UNSC meeting a few months ago, was a step in that direction. Unfortunately, as everybody is aware that sometimes what matters in the international community is not the writ of law but might. India probably is perceived as an emerging economic, military and political power. People, countries are afraid probably of speaking going against it.

Pakistan is not at least one of them. Turkey has proved that it can tell truth regardless of the situation. The UN Security Council has a very serious responsibility on its shoulder on behalf of the entire international community. It needs to live up to its promises that it made to the people of Kashmir and the international community, and it needs to develop the moral courage to uphold its own decisions because otherwise, the legitimacy of the Security Council itself is compromised. It is the Security Council by the way, ironically, of which India wants to become a member. How then is that acceptable?  

Road map for 2020

Q: What is the road map Pakistan is having in mind in 2020, to help resolution of Kashmir issue?

MSSQ: Pakistan will continue, as has been the case throughout history, of extending its moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir. We will avail the opportunity to bring to the attention of the people in the world and the governments and international organizations of the terrible situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir is a political, security, human rights, and a humanitarian problem. Pakistan will continue to raise these issues.

Pakistan at the same time is prepared to discuss this issue openly with an open heart for a meaningful discussion with the Indian side if it is prepared.

We hope that the multilateral institutions, primarily the UN Security Council also rise to their duties and responsibilities and address this issue. Do you think the international media is raising sufficient awareness about the plight of the Kashmiris?

MSSQ: You switch on the TV when you get up in the morning every day. You see news from all across the world. There are demonstrations in country X and there are demonstrations in country Y. Some of these countries and regions are supposed to be not according to the ideals of the West in terms of governments, but there are international media. They are covering these demonstrations. You are seeing people on the streets, on the roads, raising their voice for whatever they believe is their right.

The one place where you do not see this coverage and the people in one place which the world does not see on TV screens is Kashmir. It is a terrible irony and injustice to them. The people there still do not have internet. The mobile phones when they work are not allowed to send SMS messages. Kashmiris are still physically mostly confined to their homes. How is this acceptable to the world in this day and age? And why is it that the international media, international human rights organizations, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and its mechanisms, and the independent Human Rights Commission of the OIC are not allowed any access to these people?

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