Kashmir Issue Has Come Alive: Qureshi23 September 2010
New York: A panel of Islamic Foreign Ministers on Wednesday deplored the ongoing violence against people in Indian-occupied Kashmir and urged New Delhi to take steps to settle the decades-old Indo-Pak conflict. The Organization of the Islamic Conference’s Contact Group on Kashmir also asked India to stop human rights violations, while reaffirming their support for the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi renewed Islamabad’s support for the inalienable rights of the Kashmiri people, which have been denied by India. “The peaceful, widespread and indigenous uprising of the oppressed Kashmiri people has once again demonstrated that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is alive,” he said in a speech, referring to massive anti-India protests in the disputed territory. “It cannot be wished away,” he said. The meeting, held under the chairmanship of OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, was attended by Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Niger. The US media, meanwhile, criticised India for being indifferent to aspirations of the Kashmiris. “For more than 100 days, in which Indian security officers have killed more than 100 Kashmiri civilians, the Indian government has seemed paralysed, or even indifferent, as this disputed Himalayan region has plunged into one of the gravest crisis of its tortured history,” The New York Times observed in a front-paged dispatch from Srinagar. The OIC panel met a day after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon led expression of international concern over the deteriorating situation in the occupied valley, which remains under a state of relentless curfews. The use of force by Indian security personnel against stone-pelting young protestors has again pushed the disputed Himalayan region into a state of turmoil, as has been the case on several occasions over the last six decades. The UN Chief, in his statement, had called for immediate end to violence and urged calm and restraint. At the meeting held at the UN Headquarters, the OIC Secretary General and other members expressed their continued backing for efforts towards a just settlement of the UN-recognized dispute. “I have followed with concern the situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir and consistently expressed my disappointment at the use of force and violence against the Kashmiri people by the Indian forces,” Ihsanoglu said. “I have also repeatedly stated that a peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute would serve not only the people of India and Pakistan but also the overall interests of the region,” he added. The delegates urged India to “respect the will and rights of the people in order to help improve the security situation in the region.” The foreign ministers of OIC countries will hold a full ministerial meeting in the next few days, where they are slated to adopt a document on all issues concerning the Islamic world. The recent spate of violence in Kashmir has also belied New Delhi’s propaganda that Pakistan has always been behind the crisis in the valley, as duly noted by the New York Times. “India often views Kashmir through its rivalry with Pakistan, with both countries controlling portions of the region and each claiming its entirety. Yet Indian officials concede that this latest unrest is different, a domestic Kashmiri revolt against Indian rule, unlike past insurgencies sponsored by Pakistan,” the report said. In his remarks, Foreign Minister Qureshi expressed appreciation for the OIC’s strong and consistent support to the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people for the right to self-determination. He focused on the peaceful and non-violent struggle of the Kashmiri people and underlined Pakistan’s diplomatic, political and moral support to the Kashmir cause. Speaking on the occasion, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan dwelt on the sacrifices rendered by the Kashmiri people. He urged India to reciprocate Pakistan’s sincere efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue. Speaking at the meeting, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, a Washington-based Kashmiri scholar, thanked Foreign Minister Qureshi for coming out with a forceful voice for the Kashmiris’ rights. He gave an update on the ongoing situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir. He stressed that the Kashmiri leadership including Syed Ali Geelani, Mir Waiz Omar Farooq and Yasin Malik remain under house arrest in Indian Occupied Kashmir. As a result, Mir Waiz Omar Faooq could not come to New York to attend the meeting of the Contact Group. He emphasised that need for continued support of the international community to the peaceful and unarmed struggle of the Kashmiri people. Later, the true representative presented a memorandum on Kashmir to the OIC Secretary General.