The statement was made by Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness, in his submission to the United Nations Working Group which is meeting this week at its headquarters in New York.
Fai expressed in his submission that he hoped “to offer is an unstarry-eyed view of the fate of self-determination in Kashmir; and, the indispensability of convincing India that its national and economic security would be strengthened, not weakened, by ending its military occupation.”
“Self-determination,” he said, “is the act of a people, expressing their free will to control and participate in their nation’s destiny. A people must be free to express their will without interference or threat of interference from a controlling authority not of the people’s design. This includes alien domination, foreign occupation and colonial rule.”
“Self- determination,’ Fai said, “is a principle that has been developed in philosophic thought and practice for the last several hundred years. It is an idea that has caused people throughout the world to rise up and shed the chains of oppressive governments at great risk. Self-determination is the act of a people, expressing their free will to control and participate in their nation’s destiny. A people must be free to express their will without interference or threat of interference from a controlling authority not of the people’s design. This includes alien domination, foreign occupation and colonial rule. The applicability of the principle of self-determination to the specific case of Jammu and Kashmir has been explicitly recognized by the United Nations. It was upheld equally by India and Pakistan when the Kashmir dispute was brought before the Security Council by the Government of India on December 31, 1947”
Kashmiris enjoy a right to self-determination. Kashmir’s legal history entitles it to self-determination from Indian domination every bit as much as Eritrea’s historical independence entitled it to self-determination from Ethiopian domination. The human rights violations in Kashmir also militate in favor of self-determination every bit as much as Yugoslavia’s human rights violations and ethnic cleansing created a right to self-determination in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Kosovo. Kashmir’s history of social and religious tranquility further bolsters its claim to self-determination every bit as much as East Timor’s history of domestic peace before Indonesia’s annexation in 1975 entitled it to self-determination in 1999.
Fai explained that Kashmir was overwhelmingly Muslim, with Pandits, Buddhists, and Sikhs featured as welcome religious minorities. The ecumenical religious atmosphere in Kashmir found expression in inter-religious friendships, neighborhoods, businesses, and mutual celebration or respect of religious holidays. In other words, Kashmir was neither convulsed by religious strife, nor by religious extremists preaching fundamentalism from every mosque. The Maharaja ruling over Kashmir, however, was an oppressive Hindu whose tyranny had sparked an indigenous insurgency. The then Prime Minister of India, Pandit Nehru, had voiced a consensus view that sovereignty in princely states like Kashmir had devolved on their respective peoples as of August 15, 1947; and, that the peoples’ voice should prevail in a plebiscite over the sovereignty ambitions of ruling maharajas in cases of conflict. In Kashmir, Nehru initially championed a plebiscite to determine its sovereign destiny. But the Prime Minister and his successors reneged on their international law obligation when they realized Kashmir would never vote accession to India in a free and fair election. A commanding majority of Kashmiris covet independence, democracy, the rule of law and religious pluralism.
“India’s economy would grow, not contract, with an independent Kashmir. The end of turmoil in that country would attract investment in the region. The free movements of goods and labor between Kashmir and its neighbors could be negotiated. Economics is not a zero sum game, but a win-win game. Prosperity is mutually reinforcing and beneficial between all parties competing on a level playing field,” Fai added.
He expressed hope that in the interim, several measures should be taken to ease the misery and tensions in Kashmir. Human rights organizations should be given greater access. India’s security forces should be thinned. All political prisoners should be released. Emergency laws which give India’s security forces immunity for human rights crimes should be repealed. The Cease-fire Line should be monitored by an independent third party, such as the United Nations or the European Union. Kashmiri leaders should be permitted free exchanges across the CFL, and Kashmiri exiles should be allowed to return without hindrance or retaliation.