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'Litmus test for India to allow Kashmiris decide future democratically'

06:50 05 August 2021 Author :  

Pakistan’s top diplomat in Turkey said that a litmus test to Indian democracy was to conduct a democratic exercise to allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide their future.

On eve of the second anniversary of India’s actions of annexing the disputed region, Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi, Pakistan’s ambassador to Ankara, told Anadolu Agency that Aug. 5, 2019, will go down in the history of Jammu and Kashmir as a black day because India clearly conveyed to the world that it does not care about the wishes of the Kashmiris.

"India indulged in the same practice that all occupation powers have been doing throughout history, restriction on movement and internet closure of press, restriction on people coming out and going inside their houses, closure of schools, arrest of leaders. Everything that occupying powers do to deprive the people they have occupied and are oppressing any means of registering a protest,” he said.

Qazi said that India does not have any moral or legal argument to justify its actions in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and that the only thing propping India's position in Kashmir was not law, morality, or ethics, it was an only force.

He recalled that several UN Security Council resolutions as well as the 1972 Simla agreement have recognized Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory. He added that the UNSC resolution number 122 adopted in 1957 even bars Pakistan and India from taking any measure that would prejudice the future disposition of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

"The only people who have any right to make any change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir are the Kashmiris themselves, and they can do it through an UN-administered fair and impartial plebiscite to which both Pakistan, India and of course the UNSC agreed but unfortunately, India has now conveniently forgotten its own promise to the Kashmiris to the Pakistanis and the international community," said the Pakistani diplomat based in Ankara.

Global community needs to speak

He asked the international community to speak against the human rights violations while adding that it was not proper to pick and choose where to speak for.

"The international community must step forward and tell India that enough is enough. It needs to implement the plebiscite that was promised to the Kashmiris because it is India's own interest. And of course, at the same time, the long-suffering of the Kashmiri for the last 74 years, should come to an end," he said.

Qazi said if the situation becomes more serious, Pakistan as a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has a right to seek the assistance and support of its fellow members of the OIC and bring it to a higher forum- within the organization.

He said the Kashmir issue was related to the destiny of 10 million-plus people and the international community, India, and Pakistan, had all made a promise to them, that they will have the right to determine to decide their future, according to an UN-administered plebiscite.

Good opportunity for India, Pakistan

"This is the democratic, peaceful, decent, civilized way of addressing the dispute. The time has come that the promise made to the Kashmiris needs to be fulfilled. India claims to be the world's biggest democracy. Well, here is the litmus test for it. Let's have a democratic exercise in Kashmir to determine what the Kashmiris want and give them what they want,” said the envoy.

He said this is the way civilized and democratic nations should behave.

“This is a good opportunity for India and also Pakistan to establish their credentials as democracies, Pakistan is ready," he added.

Qazi also praised Turkey's consistent, principled position on the Kashmir issue saying that it has steadfastly stood with Pakistan, but more importantly, it has steadfastly stood with the Kashmiris and the process.

"Turkey promotes bilateral, meaningful dialogue, resolution of the situation resolution of the issue according to the UN resolutions, and also has offered its good offers to both Pakistan and India to help resolve this issue. We accept this offer heartedly and we hope that the Indian side will also accept it. Anything that will help end the misery of the Kashmiris is very welcome and, in this regard," he said.

Background of Kashmir dispute

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts but claimed by both in full. A small sliver of the region is also controlled by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought four wars -- in 1948, 1965, 1971, and a limited war in 1999 -- three of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

Already strained relations between the two neighbors further plummeted after India's controversial move last year.

On Aug. 5, 2019, the Indian government revoked Article 370 and other related provisions from its Constitution, scrapping the state with its autonomy. It was also split into two federally administered territories./aa

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