UN urged to mediate peaceful settlement of Kashmir dispute

Academics say Kashmir main cause of conflict in South Asia

Srinagar, March 20 (KMS): Kashmir Scholars Consultative and Action Network (KSCAN), an interdisciplinary group of scholars from various countries and regions engaged in research on the region of Kashmir, has urged the United Nations to fulfill its responsibility to mediate a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

As quoted by a Srinagar-based English daily Kashmir Observer, the KSCAN in an open letter addressed to the UN Secretary General António Guterres has sought his urgent intervention in order to prevent further conflict and the endangerment and loss of life in the region.

“We are writing in the wake of the crisis created by the suicide bombing of an Indian paramilitary convoy in Pulwama district in south Kashmir on February 14, 2019, and the ensuing military hostilities between India and Pakistan, to ask you to urgently intervene in order to prevent further conflict and the endangerment and loss of life. This requires that you recognize the responsibility of the United Nations to act as an impartial mediator to negotiate a peaceful and just settlement of the Kashmir conflict and to initiate such negotiations on an urgent basis”, the KSCAN letter says.

The KSCAN said the scholars believe that this (Pulwama) attack was the “direct outcome of the continuing cycles of violence perpetuated by the policies followed by successive Indian governments in Kashmir”. It added that the governance in occupied Kashmir routinely combines severe political repression and continuing military impunity and violence against the population with a refusal to negotiate a just and peaceful settlement.

The incident has created a dangerous mood of war hysteria in India, leading to a military confrontation with Pakistan, the letter says. “Equally alarming are the continuing attacks on Kashmiris, especially students and traders, living in Indian cities. Kashmiri travelers have been attacked, shops and property burnt and vehicles destroyed in Jammu and in Dehradun and other Indian cities,” it added.

As per the letter, the de-escalation of the military confrontation has not been accompanied by an easing of Indian repression in Kashmir. “Instead, this has been stepped up and the Indian government has carried out mass arrests, detained political leaders, censored media, limited internet access, and banned a leading religious and charitable organization, the Jamaat-e-Islami. This has caused the closing of thousands of schools and social service institutions that are essential for the welfare of the poor in the Kashmir valley. We urge you to intervene in ending these repressive measures that will have a direct effect on the education of thousands of children.”

“As the international community urges India and Pakistan to resolve all issues through negotiation, we must emphasize that the central cause of the conflict is the unresolved and disputed status of Kashmir. Given the dire situation facing Kashmir and the Kashmiris, who live in daily fear for their lives and the lives of those dearest to them, as also the potential for a renewal of armed conflict between India and Pakistan, we urge you to take immediate action through the relevant provisions available to you, including the UNSC and the UN Special Rapporteurs, to end the violence and to ensure that it does not happen again.”

Calling for the urgent need for UN intervention and mediation, the scholars emphasised that the Kashmir conflict is not an internal matter of India. “We would like to underscore that the Kashmir conflict is not an internal matter of India to resolve on its own terms. Neither is it a matter to be resolved bilaterally by negotiations between India and Pakistan, and not only because they have failed to do so for over seventy years. Kashmiri people have continued a longstanding resistance and for the conflict to be resolved, it is imperative that their wishes be determined, through direct and ethical means such as the referendum promised by UN Security Council resolutions in 1948”.

According to the letter, the demand for self-determination, though denied for decades, has historically kept resurfacing in the region. It further said that a number of polls routinely affirm the demand for an end to Indian rule in Kashmir.

Scholars have reminded world body of its responsibility to initiate and monitor the processes that would lead to resolution of the Kashmir dispute. “The 2018 report on human rights in Kashmir by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights outlines the scale of human rights abuses in Kashmir. In its report, the OHCHR issues important recommendations including, among others, the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the amendment of the Public Safety Act, the establishment of a UN-sponsored Commission of Inquiry, and recognition of Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.”

The signatories of the letter include, Dibyesh Anand (Professor of International Relations, University of Westminster, UK), Mona Bhan (Associate Professor of Anthropology, DePauw University), Angana Chatterji (Feminist scholar), Haley Duschinski (Associate Professor, Ohio University), Iffat Fatima (Filmmaker), Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh (Lawyer and legal researcher), Hafsa Kanjwal (Assistant Professor of History, Lafayette College), Nitasha Kaul (Associate Professor, University of Westminster), Suvir Kaul, (A M Rosenthal Professor, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania), Inshah Malik (Independent researcher), Shubh Mathur (Independent scholar), Deepti Misri (Associate Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder), Goldie Osuri (Associate Professor, University of Warwick), Idrisa Pandit (Independent scholar), Saiba Varma (University of California, San Diego) and Ather Zia (Assistant Professor, University of Northern Colorado).

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