PM’s bold stand on Kashmir in UN hailed by experts, Pakistani Americans

By Iftikhar Ali

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 21 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday demanded an independent inquiry into the extra-judicial killings, and a UN fact finding mission to investigate brutalities perpetrated by Indian occupying forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) to punish those  found guilty.

In a strong speech to the UN General Assembly, Nawaz
Sharif called on the Security Council to urgently implement
its resolutions calling for the exercise of right to  self-determination by Kashmiri people to pave the way for
peace and stability in South Asia.

Highlighting the gross human rights violations in the
Indian Occupied Kashmir, the Prime Minister said, “We demand the immediate release of all Kashmiri political prisoners; an end to the curfew; freedom for the Kashmiris to demonstrate peacefully; urgent medical help for the injured; and abrogation of India’s draconian `laws’.”


At the same time, the Pakistani leader warned the
international community against ignoring the dangers of
the current Indo-Pakistan tensions, saying Pakistan will
soon open consultations with the members of 15-nation Council to explore the modalities for implementation of the
Security Council resolutions on Kashmir.

In his wide ranging address, the prime minister also
spoke about Pakistan’s commitment to eliminate terrorism, the  Afghan peace process, the Palestinian people’s right
to self-determination, disarmament, but he kept his focus on
the situation in Kashmir. He was loudly applauded at the end
of his 20-minute address.

“The people of Kashmir have waited 70 years for implementation of this promise (right to self-determination),” he said as he called for an end to Indian brutalities and oppression as well as curfews.

The prime minister also called for an independent
inquiry into the extra-judicial killings in occupied Kashmir,
and a UN fact-finding mission to investigate brutalities
perpetrated by the Indian occupying forces.

“The Security Council must honour its commitments by
implementing its own decisions,” the prime minister said in
his speech that centered on Kashmir.

“This General Assembly must demand that India deliver on
the commitments its leaders solemnly made on many occasions,” he said, while welcoming UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s offer of good offices to help resolve outstanding issues between India and Pakistan.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked following the
recent attack on Indian troops in the Uri sector of occupied
Kashmir amid a popular uprising by Kashmiri people for freedom with New Delhi’s security forces using brutal methods to crush it.

In this regard, the prime minister called for steps by the United Nations to de-militarize Jammu and Kashmir and
undertake consultations with India, Pakistan and the true
representatives of the Kashmiri people to implement the
resolutions of the Security Council.

“Peace and normalization between Pakistan and India
cannot be achieved without a resolution of the Kashmir
dispute,” he told world leaders present in the spacious hall
of the General Assembly. “This is an objective evaluation, not a partisan position.”

The prime minister said, “Our predictions have now been
confirmed by events. A new generation of Kashmiris has
risen spontaneously against India’s illegal occupation –
demanding freedom from occupation.

Burhan Wani, the young leader murdered by Indian forces,
has emerged as the symbol of the latest Kashmiri ‘Intifada’,
a popular and peaceful freedom movement, led by Kashmiris, young and old, men and women, armed only with an undying faith in the legitimacy of their cause, and a hunger for freedom in their hearts.

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“This indigenous uprising of the Kashmiris has been met,
as usual, with brutal repression by India’s occupation force
of over half a million soldiers. Over a hundred Kashmiris have
been killed, hundreds, including children and infants, blinded
by shotgun pellets and over six thousand unarmed civilians injured over the past two months.”

These Indian brutalities, he said, were well documented.

“I would like to inform the General Assembly that Pakistan
will share with the Secretary General a dossier containing
detailed information and evidence of the gross and systematic violations of human rights committed by Indian forces in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”

These brutalities, the prime minister said, would not
suppress the spirit of the Kashmiris, rather it would only
intensify their anger and fortify their determination to see
India end its occupation of Kashmir. “From Srinagar to Sopore, the men, women and children come out each day, defying curfew, to demand freedom,” he said.

“On behalf of the Kashmiri people; on behalf of the
mothers, wives, sisters, and fathers of the innocent Kashmiri
children, women and men who have been killed, blinded and
injured; on behalf of the Pakistani nation, I demand an
independent inquiry into the extra-judicial killings, and a UN
fact finding mission to investigate brutalities perpetrated by
the Indian occupying forces, so that those guilty of these
atrocities are punished,” the Prime Minister said.

For its part, the prime minister told world leaders,
Pakistan was committed to the establishment of strategic
stability in the region and does not want an arms race with India,  saying, “But we cannot ignore our neighbour’s unprecedented arms  build up and will take whatever measures are necessary to  maintain credible deterrence.”

He said, “We have consistently urged the conclusion of
bilateral arms control and disarmament measures between Pakistan  and India to prevent conflict and avoid wasteful
military expenditures.”

“We are open to discussing all measures of restraint
and responsibility with India, in any forum or format and
without any condition.”

Expressing Pakistan’s readiness to agree on a bilateral nuclear  test ban treaty, he went on to say, “Today, from this rostrum, I  would also like to reiterate our offer to India to enter into a  serious and sustained dialogue for the peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, especially Jammu and Kashmir. ”

As a responsible nuclear weapon state, he said, Pakistan
will continue to cooperate with all international efforts that
seek to promote fair and equitable solutions to disarmament and non-proliferation challenges.

“We have introduced ‘state-of-the-art’ measures to strengthen  the safety and security of our nuclear materials and facilities.

We have adopted a comprehensive export control regime that  is fully consistent with international standards,” the prime  minister said.

“Judged on the basis of objective criteria, and without
discrimination, Pakistan is fully eligible for membership of
the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group.”

On terrorism, teh prime minister said Pakistan’s priority goal of economic development requires internal peace and stability.

“My  country has been the principal victim of terrorism including  that supported, sponsored and financed from abroad,” he told the  193-member Assembly.

“We will not allow externally sponsored terrorism and
threats of destabilization to cause turbulence in Pakistan,”
pointing out that tens of thousands of our citizens and thousands  of our security personnel have been killed, or injured in  terrorist attacks.

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“This has only reinforced our resolve to eliminate the
scourge of terrorism.

Our comprehensive strategy of law enforcement and targeted military operations has produced remarkable results  and enabled Pakistan to turn the tide against terrorism,” he said.

Stating that Pakistan’s Zarb-e-Azb Operation is the largest,
most robust and most successful anti-terrorism campaign anywhere in the world, deploying 200,000 of our security forces, he said.

“Our comprehensive National Action Plan has the complete
endorsement of our people and our Parliament as well as our
security forces, all of whom have made heroic sacrifices to defeat terrorism.”

Terrorism, he said, is now a global phenomenon, and
the international community must coordinate its efforts to
accomplish this.

These efforts should be taken collectively  and not unilaterally by the passage of any laws  with extra-territorial application targeted against  certain countries.

“We will not win the fight against terrorism and violent
extremism so long as we do not address their root causes,” he  said.

“These lie in poverty and ignorance, political and  social injustice and oppression, foreign intervention and  occupation and denial of the legitimate rights of peoples and nations, especially the right to self-determination.

“Until these underlying causes are addressed, it will be
difficult to counter the twisted narrative of violent extremists
and terrorists.”

On Afghanistan, Prime minister Sharif said that Pakistan has long proposed intra-Afghan dialogue as the most viable course to end  decades of conflict and suffering in Afghanistan.

“Based on this belief in a negotiated peace, and in response
to requests from President Ashraf Ghani, we have been
facilitating the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan,” he said.

“There have been setbacks. That, however, is not a sufficient
reason to abandon the path of peace and rely on the military
option, which has failed, for the past decade and a half,
to stabilize Afghanistan.

“Progress will be assured only when the Afghan parties
themselves conclude that there is no military solution to the
Afghan war, and work assiduously, through a meaningful dialogue  process, for achieving reconciliation and peace at home.”

About the three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the
prime minister said he hoped to see them return to
Afghanistan, voluntarily and with dignity.

“Until they do, the international community must shoulder its responsibilities to sustain them.”

He said the United Nations remains an indispensable
organization to restore order and ensure global peace,
stability and prosperity. “Its principles remain the crucial
pillars of international legality, the guide for the conduct
of Member States and the guarantor of the legitimate rights of  all nations and peoples.”

“To that end, it should become more representative,
transparent and accountable,” he said.

“A comprehensive and democratic reform of the Security
Council, which Pakistan supports, should enhance its relevance and representation. Creating new centers of privilege will do the  opposite. ”

The prime minister said, “Pakistan has a vital  stake in ending conflicts, fostering peace, fighting terrorism, strengthening democracy, promoting human rights, generating global
growth and overcoming the challenges of environmental degradation.

We can achieve these goals, and create a new and peaceful world  order, only through the United Nations and by strict adherence to the principles of its Charter.”