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By Samreen Tak, Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer, TIO, NJ: On August 28, 2023 Antonio Guterres who is the present Secretary General of the United Nations stated through his twitter handle ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. As we mark the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, our worst enemy is complacency. We must continue to make human rights real in the lives of people living across the globe’.
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Dear Honorable Antonio Guterres,
I wrote to you back on January 7, 2017, upon assuming the office of the Secretary General that the unanimity of the Security Council is indicative of their wisdom in believing that you are an ideal candidate with the character, vision and talent to face the growing challenges in an ever-expanding global community. Six years have been passed and I still hold the belief that you are the most suitable person to help resolve complex international conflicts, such as the Kashmir issue.
You are well aware that Kashmir problem is not a recent one; it has been on the United Nations’ agenda for nearly 76 years. Strangely it stands as the only entity in South Asia that has been denied the opportunity to determine its own political future. This historical injustice demands rectification.
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Some South Asia experts suggest that economic opportunities could quell the turmoil and unrest in the region. However when the human rights of Kashmiris are persistently violated, such suffering becomes the norm. World powers seem to overlook the fact that the pain of losing a loved one to violence cannot be remedied by job opportunities alone, as suggested by India’s Interior Minister Amit Shah. The cry for self-determination has become deep and immersed in a bitterness that has no substitute. As one of the internationally known Indian human rights defender, Arundhati Roy said on October 3, 2019, when asked, ‘What do the people of Kashmir want?’ She said, ‘they’ve (Kashmiris) been saying it for 70 years. They’ve been saying it loudly. They’ve been saying it with their blood since 1990. Of course, it’s self-determination. You know, of course, its self-determination.’
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It is worth noting that Kashmir’s Claim for Self Determination is robust even without formal recognition from the UN. Kashmir has been historically independent, except in the anarchical conditions of late 18th and the first half of 19th centuries. And also, the territory of Kashmir is larger in size than 121 independent countries and bigger in number than 117 nations of the world.
The nation of Kashmir still remembers, Mr. SG, when Narendra Modi abrogated Article 370 & 35 A on August 5, 2019, his aim was not the resolve the issue but to dissolve it? Then on August 8, 2019, you gave hope to 23 million Kashmiris by articulating the principled position of the United Nations that Kashmir issue has to be resolved under UN Charter and applicable UN Security Council resolutions. That signifies, Mr. SG that the claim that Kashmir is an integral part of India does not stand. Kashmir has an international dimension that deserves the attention of the U.N. and the global community.
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Indian Defence Review reported on September 12, 2020, that ‘India has made very strong appeal for permanently removing the Jammu & Kashmir issue under outdated agenda item of the India-Pakistan question from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) agenda.’ Narender Modi Ji and Dr. Jaishankar Ji know it well that the United Nations resolutions can never become outdated or obsolete or overtaken by events or changed circumstances. Mere passage of time or the flight from realities cannot alter the fact that these resolutions remain unimplemented until today. The passage of time cannot invalidate an enduring and irreplaceable principle – the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir. If passage of time were allowed to extinguish solemn international agreements, then the United Nations Charter should suffer the same fate as the resolutions on Kashmir. If non-implementation were to render an agreement defunct, then the Geneva Convention in twenty-first century in many countries is in no better state than these resolutions.
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It is high time that we take a constructive approach. The best point for doing so is to restore the focus where it originally belonged and where it still rests logically like: the rights and interests of the people of Kashmir itself. What should be the procedure for putting the dispute on the road to a settlement? The better way would be to ask the Secretary General of the United Nations, with the concurrence of the Security Council, to engage himself, directly or through a representative of high international standing, in a sustained effort of facilitation which should (a) ensure that the position of the people of Kashmir is fully taken into account and (b) aim at a settlement within a reasonable time-frame, providing for a transitional period, if necessary, for a calming effect.
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As you eloquently stated on April 4, 2016 “We need a surge in diplomacy for peace”. The SG under the guidance of the Security Council and in accordance with the charter, should actively, consistently and tirelessly utilize his good offices and mediation abilities as an impartial mediator and promoter of peace. There cannot be a better agency than the Secretary General of the United Nations himself to mediate or facilitate between the parties concerned. Secretary General has no ambition to assert dominance while as great powers do.
Mediation by the Secretary General would be free from the jealousies and the ambitions that characterize individual initiative. The Secretary General will have to remain under no obligation to please any particular power or particular set of powers or groups. Yes, there will be resistance from India but if India is impressed with what she would gain by a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute, her negativity may not be insurmountable. An impartial third party, especially of the SG caliber can effectively demonstrate to India the advantages of a fair settlement for Kashmir.
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