Unwittingly, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has internationalized the Kashmir issue. This he never intended when he moved to annex occupied Kashmir. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members met for the first time in over five decades to discuss the critical situation in Indian Held Kashmir, urging parties to the dispute to refrain from taking any unilateral action. The UNSC met behind closed doors at the request of China and Pakistan to discuss the revocation of the special status of IHK by the Indian government.
It is significant that the UN Security Council has taken up the issue after more than 50 years since it was last discussed on the platform, effectively rejecting India’s stance that IHK was an internal issue and not an internationally recognised dispute. Pakistan’s Representative to the United Nations pointed out that the meeting was a testimony to the fact that Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute. The meeting reaffirmed the validity of the UNSC resolutions on the status of Jammu and Kashmir, nullifying India’s stand that the occupied valley was its internal matter.
After the UNSC meeting, Chinese ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun said that members of the Security Council had expressed serious concern about the human rights situation in Indian Held Jammu and Kashmir, and emphasized that parties to the dispute should refrain from unilateral action that may aggravate the situation. China also proposed that the Security Council issue a statement on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, but diplomats from the United States, France and Germany did not agree.
No doubt, the UNSC meeting is a diplomatic victory for Pakistan but this is not the end of the story. This is only the first step that Pakistan has taken to express solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and much more remains to be done. As China’s envoy pointed out, the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is an issue left behind by history between India and Pakistan. According to the previous UNSC resolutions, the status of Kashmir is undecided and it is an internationally recognized dispute. This means the Kashmir issue should be resolved through peaceful means in accordance with the UN charter, the relevant SC resolutions and bilateral agreements. But the constitutional amendment by India has changed the status quo in Kashmir, causing tension in the region.
In the meanwhile, US President Donald Trump telephoned Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and expressed his serious concern over the situation in South Asia in the wake of Indian government’s action to annex Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) in violation of the UN resolutions. The conversation between the two leaders lasted for more than 20 minutes just before the commencement of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) closed-door meeting. Imran Khan briefed the US President about the recent developments and took him into confidence on the position that Pakistan had taken on the issue.
It may be recalled here that President Trump had offered mediation between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir dispute. While the same was accepted by Pakistan, India denied having asked for mediation. During his talk, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his anguish about the plight of Kashmiri people, who have been facing severe hardship under curfew for the last three weeks. The two leaders agreed to keep in touch in the interest of peace in the region. The White House also issued a statement about the meeting, urging that Pakistan engage with India to defuse tensions in the nuclear flashpoint region of Kashmir.
Besides Trump, Prime Minister Imran Khan has also spoken to a number of world leaders, including Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad, the Saudi Crown Prince and the UAE President. Pakistan has repeatedly warned the Narendra Modi-led Hindu supremacist government that the fascist tactics adopted in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) cannot defeat the Kashmiris’ indigenous freedom struggle. It is hoped that the world pressure being built up will force India to see reason and retrace its steps from the path of confrontation.
An encouraging development in this connection is the concern voiced by the OIC over the Kashmir issue. The OIC General Secretariat has taken notice of the curtailment of religious freedoms of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, including complete lockdown even on the auspicious occasion of Eid, denying congregations and preventing Muslims from observing their religious rituals.
Denial of religious rights constitutes a serious violation of the international human rights law and is an affront to Muslims across the world. The OIC has urged the Indian authorities to ensure protection of the rights of Kashmiri Muslims and exercise of their religious rights without any hindrance. The OIC has also called upon the international community, including the United Nations and other relevant bodies, to expedite efforts for a negotiated settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute on the basis of relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
Given India’s growing aggressiveness, it is important that Pakistan should remain in touch with all important world capitals, besides mobilising Muslim brotherly states to pressure India not to persecute Kashmiris and or take any unilateral steps that may threaten peace in the region.