Kashmir Conference fails to even mention UN resolutions
26 February 2005
The Daily Times
New York: The Kashmir Conference ended on a disappointing note on Friday when it failed to even mention the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir that have been seen for over half a century as epitomising the principle of self-determination.The so-called 'New York Declaration' issued by the Conference also failed to mention the words 'self-determination'. A five-member drafting committee, containing two Indians, was appointed without the approval of the general body by the organisers to produce a declaration. The draft produced by this committee, about whose constitution and membership nothing had been said earlier, was distributed among those who turned up for the second day's proceedings, a 'roundtable' at which a large number of people spoke though none or little of what they said was reflected in the 'Declaration'. After the draft was handed out, a Pakistani journalist rose to ask if there was any special reason for the omission of a reference to the Security Council resolutions on Kashmir, which have always been described as the bedrock of Pakistan's stand on Kashmir.The drafting committee consisted of Mushahid Hussain, Dilip Padgoanker of the Times of India, Dr Vijay Sazawal, president of the Indo-American Kashmir Forum, a Washington-based group upholding the rights of Kashmiri Pandits, Barrister Majid Tramboo, executive director of the Kashmir Centre, Brussels, and Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai of the Kashmiri American Council.One of the participants, Akram Dar, a Kashmiri resident in the United States, in an emotional intervention wanted to know why the Declaration contained no reference to the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. He urged the Conference not to 'abandon' those resolutions and not to come up instead with any 'ludicrous scenarios'. He said if the Conference was not even prepared to mention of the UN resolutions, one would like to ask whether 100,000 Kashmiris had died in vain. He reminded the participants that 10,000 Kashmiris had disappeared without trace and thousands of women had been raped. 'And you are not even prepared to mention the UN resolutions that uphold the Kashmiri people's right of self- determination.'The wording in the first draft to which exception was taken read as follows 'The Conference notes with satisfaction that such confidence-building measures - a reference to the Srinagar- Muzaffarabad bus service - will create an atmosphere that ultimately leads to a fair and lasting settlement of the Kashmir issue.'The 'drafting committee', it was then announced, would look at the draft and see what rewording was necessary. The second draft was distributed at the end of the roundtable as the final document. The new wording was, 'The Conference hopes with satisfaction that such confidence-building measures will create an atmosphere that ultimately leads to a fair and lasting settlement of the Kashmir issue according to the wishes and aspirations of 14 million people of Jammu and Kashmir.' The revised Declaration welcomed the bus service, and hoped that the Indian and Pakistani governments would realise that without the 'active and full participation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir living on both sides of the Ceasefire Line as well as those belonging to the Kashmiri diaspora', there can be no negotiated or other settlement of Kashmir. It regretted that Kashmiri leaders from the Valley had not attended 'ostensibly because the necessary travel documents were not made available to them on time'. It asked the Indian government to grant visas to members of the 'India-Pakistan-Kashmir Steering Committee to visit New Delhi so that the global discourse on Kashmir proceeds forward as scheduled'. It also called for the protection of minority rights 'at all costs' and the right of return for people displaced from the Valley since 1947. Whether by design or omission, it made no mention of those who were displaced from other parts of the former princely state. It expressed 'grave concern over continued violations of human rights by state and non-state actors in Jammu and Kashmir' and urged all 'stakeholders to ensure that human rights are upheld in full measure,' while calling for the release of political prisoners.The conference was organised by the International Educational Development, an NGO, and the Kashmiri American Council.