Pakistan Kashmir policy and rights of Kashmiri people
Speech delivered by Mr Abbas Butt in a seminar at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 11 March 2008. The Seminar was organised by Interfaith International and Co sponsored by JKCHR.
Topic of the Seminar was: The democratic transition in Pakistan, fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and its effects on the rights of the Kashmiri people.
Chairman, friends and colleagues aslamo alaykam
People of Pakistan like democracy and dislike violence and terrorism; and they have showed that by voting against those who advanced politics of hatred and violence. They have voted for those who believe in democracy and want to have friendly relations with all the neighbours including India.
In this context Asif Zardari, Co Chair of Pakistan Peoples Party made a statement on Kashmir and that has upset many Kashmiris and Pakistanis. His message was that his government would maintain good relations with India, and would not let the Kashmir dispute become obstacle in friendly relations between the two countries.
I don't understand why so many Kashmiris are annoyed with his statement. He is a Pakistani leader and wants to think about interest of Pakistan first. Anyone with common sense will appreciate that he wants to have friendly relations with India, which could benefit his country and could also help to resolve the Kashmir dispute by a process of dialogue.
Asif Zardari has been honest and frank in his desire to improve his relations with India, and those people who are used to listening to duplicity and lies didn't appreciate this frank statement.
Pakistani leaders and officials have always played with sentiments of the people and used Kashmir for their politics and power. Various Pakistani governments have put Kashmir aside in order to establish friendly relations with India, and Kashmiri people didn't get upset over that.
It looks that critics of Asif Zardari want to resolve the Kashmir dispute by having atmosphere of confrontation and not atmosphere of trust as desired by Adif Zardari. They still want to liberate Kashmir by use of gun and without having friendly relations with India. They forget that various Pakistani generals have tried this only to add to the problems of the divided and oppressed people of Jammu and Kashmir.
If some in the Pakistan army and their sympathisers in public still believe that they can resolve the Kashmir dispute by promoting violence and hatred, then that is bad news for the people of Kashmir in particular and people of South Asia in general. Furthermore it is also bad news for all those who want to have cordial relationship between India and Pakistan that they can resolve all their disputes through a process of dialogue, and start a new era of peace and tranquillity in the region.
Those Kashmiris who only like to criticise others and have no wish to put their own house in order, need to know that whenever there is tension, hostility and atmosphere of mistrust between India and Pakistan, we people of Jammu and Kashmir suffer most. So are these critics saying that they want continuation of tension and hatred between the two countries that people of Jammu and Kashmir together with people of India and Pakistan suffer, and that there could be no peace in the region?
Pakistani government is fighting home grown terrorists in various parts of the country, and they are killing their own people, destroying their houses, even mosques and madrassas. According to some reports they have destroyed more than 80 mosques and madrassas and thousands of houses, and have killed innocent people including women and young children. Pakistani government is sincere in its fight against terrorism but it is like trying to put out fire with petrol, resulting in more violence.
Irony of this tragedy is that Pakistani agencies at one time took pride in this fact that they mastered in art of training and exporting terrorists to various countries. At that time they were called mujahideen and this process of training, funding and exporting violence was called jihad.
These Kashmiri leaders who blindly follow Pakistan and its agencies must put their own house in order. Why they have given a free hand to Pakistan to behave as an advocate of the Kashmiris? Why they cannot tell them that we will not accept their dictation on Kashmir. And instead of becoming a 'b team' of Pakistan, they must think as Kashmiris and protect and promote the Kashmiri interest.
Let us hope that the new government in Pakistan will make Pakistan more stable and democratic, where rule of law will prevail and benefits of that will also reach areas of Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. Let us also hope that the policy of getting or snatching Kashmir will stop and Pakistani government will support our right of self - determination and not insist on right of accession.
Also I hope that common sense will prevail in Pakistan and policy of supporting violence and hatred, and exporting it to other places will immediately stop. And those who promote peace, rule of law and liberal democratic rights will not be castigated and targeted.
I thank you Chair.