The UN Charter promotes the right of all peoples to self determination.
Dr Shabir Choudhry
While addressing the UN Commission on Human Rights, Dr Shabir Choudhry said people of Kashmir are denied of their basic rights on both sides of the LOC, including right to determine their future.
He said the UN Charter promotes the right of all peoples to self determination, and this right is defined as ‘the ability of a people to collectively determine its political status and to pursue its own economic, social and cultural development’.
Dr Shabir Choudhry who is also Diplomatic Head of the JKLF said, UN General Assembly Resolution 2625 of 1970 demands that “every state has the duty to promote, through joint and separate action, realization of the principle of equal rights and self – determination of peoples”. But it is unfortunate that some states, even though they are signatory to the UN Charter, deny indigenous people right to self - determination under international law. These states actively and explicitly deprive people of their basic human rights, and oppress and subjugate those who seek right of self - determination; and it should be of great concern to the UN and all organizations supporting human rights.
He said recognition of this right is particularly important if we want to create conditions under which individual human rights could be appropriately protected and promoted. Denial of right of self - determination is, in fact, denial of all other human rights because it is through this right people could give meaning to other political, social and cultural rights.
Commenting on the denial of rights to the Kashmiri people Dr Choudhry said, ‘The citizens of State of Jammu and Kashmir are unfortunate people who have been denied of this basic human right - a right which is bestowed to every human being by nature, and which is supported by relevant UN resolutions. The State of Jammu and Kashmir was forcibly divided in 1947 before the people could exercise their right of self determination. To date the State is forcibly divided between India and Pakistan and people of Kashmir have had no opportunity to exercise this basic human right to determine their own future.
He said the UN Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir are very clear that no elections, whether fair or rigged, could substitute right of self- determination. However elections have an important role to play in a society. It is a process that could help people to elect their representatives who could work for the welfare of the people. Dr Shabir Choudhry who is known for his nationalist ideology said, it is unfortunate to note that when the case of Kashmir and its future was discussed in the UN Security Council, it was Pakistani government which suggested that the Kashmiri peoples right to determine their future should be limited to either acceding to Pakistan or India, hence depriving the people to enjoy and exercise full right of self determination, which is fountain of all other rights. And this right of Kashmiris was further curtailed by the Act 1974, which does not allow people to participate in elections if they differ with states ideology of acceding to Pakistan.
He further said the Kashmiri people could not exercise their right of self determination because both India and Pakistan failed to agree on issues related to demilitarization, but consequence of that is subjugation and oppression and forced division of the Kashmiri people. It is the Kashmiri families who have been separated by force for the past 56 years; and it is the Kashmiri people as a whole who have been deprived of basic human rights.
Dr Choudhry criticised the electoral process in Azad Kashmir and said, the elections in Azad Kashmir held in July 2001 were marked by complete apathy on the part of the international community in the mistaken belief that the Kashmir issue involves only denial of political rights by India. The leadership that has emerged in Azad Kashmir as a consequence therefore comprises only of those committed to making Kashmir a part of Pakistan. The majority of the people, who disagree with the stipulation that they should accept accession to Pakistan, are made to suffer in different ways, including denial of employment, government contracts and opportunities to undertake private enterprise.
He said people of Gilgit and Baltistan are the big losers in this struggle as they don’t even rights enjoyed by the people of Azad Kashmir. And leaders of Gilgit and Baltistan National Alliance are furious over the conditions under which they had to live. They are unanimous in their demand that they are not part of Pakistan and would like to, at least, get status enjoyed by the people of Azad Kashmir.
Dr Shabir Choudhry reminded the Commission that the people of Kashmir have the same rights and protection under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as those in other parts of the world. He further said that the UNCIP Resolution of 5th January 1949 protected Kashmiri peoples basic rights, including right to travel and participate in political process without any fear of intimidation.