From ‘isolation’ to ‘internationalization’, Kashmir still southeast of UN

Irshad Salim, MAMOSA Report — TWO major world bodies today took notice of ongoing protests in Indian-administered Kashmir – a longstanding dispute between the two neighbors — India and Pakistan, calling for its peaceful resolution bilaterally. Topping the world bodies call was an emphatic albeit emotional outburst from former Kashmiri chief minister and senior politician Dr. Farooq Abdulla urging India to settle the dispute by bringing all stakeholders on board before it is too late.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC — all 57 Muslim countries are members of the body) and the UN Secretary General’s spokesman at the daily press briefing mentioned the K word dovetailing Farooq Abdulla’s observations – all have resonated in Indian, Pakistani and the world media in differing levels of pitch, understandably so, as the dispute is morphing into a geopolitical hot potato with consequences of geostrategic import for the region.

While, OIC Secretary General Dr Al-Othaimeen said the world Muslim body is in full agreement with Pakistan over Kashmir dispute’s peaceful resolution, UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres is reported to be keeping close watch on the situation in the Valley.

Curfew-like curbs and complete strikes preceded by stone-pelters protests intermittently dot the beautiful Himalayan Valley’s life. After security personnel killed eight civilians protesting against New Delhi’s rule on Sunday, UN Secretary General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said the UN chief was well aware of the Kashmir issue and has all along underscored the need for a peaceful settlement of the dispute through engagement and dialogue between Pakistan and India.

Last week, the United Nations said the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) is investigating alleged ceasefire violations on the Line of Control — another development piggybacking events inside the Valley.

UNMOGIP was deployed in January 1949 to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. While Pakistan allows UN observers to monitor the LoC, India does not. The group, based in Rawalpindi, is composed of 44 military observers, supported by 25 international civilian personnel and 47 local civilian staff.

The OIC Secretary General, while addressing a joint press conference with Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad today said the decades-old Kashmir dispute was at the top of OIC’s agenda, adding that it was unfortunate that India had denied a request from the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission to visit occupied Kashmir in order to assess the situation there, Radio Pakistan reported.

“But we should keep the pressure on (the Indian government) every time the occasion arises,” adding that the OIC desired a peaceful resolution of the lingering Kashmir dispute.

The OIC Secretary General said that his organization had same position as that of Pakistan on the issues of Kashmir, Palestine, Islamophobia and plight of Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries.

Spokesman Dujarric, who was responding to questions at the regular noon briefing, said, ” “I don’t think the Secretary General is reluctant to discuss the Kashmir issue…If we are able to say more, we will.”

Farooq Abdullah did. The former India-controlled Kashmir chief minister urged India to think of a political, not military, solution to the Kashmir dispute before it loses the valley.

In an interview with Indian media, Abdullah said the violence and loss of lives during the Srinagar by-poll “are a tragedy and a failure of the government of the day.”

The former chief minister, who is contesting the state by-elections from Srinagar, lamented that the Indian government had failed to provide security to the people of IoK.

“Why am I playing with fire? Is that not true? Are the stone pelters fighting for MP-ship or MLA-ship or some ministerial post? Wake up, before it is too late,” said Abdullah in an interview with India today.

When asked if he should be bridging the gap between Kashmir and India instead of ‘almost endorsing azadi,’ Abdullah responded: “Sometime ago, a Parliamentary delegation came to Kashmir under the leadership of the home minister. The delegation was told that we will talk to the youth and all the stakeholders. Have they done so, in a single step, in the last two years? Why do you blame me?”

“Wake up, wake up. The situation is quite bad, and don’t tell me Pakistan is not a party to this problem. Whether you like it or not, you have to talk to Pakistan. If you want to beat the threat of the terrorists, then you better start talking now,” Abdullah said.

The National Conference chief stressed that it was time to mend fences, and control the present problem. “Let’s not burn, let’s talk to the youth, Hurriyat, and other leaders and come to a solution,” he said. “You have 8 people dead, and God knows how many injured. How long will you keep on doing this? You think it’s all law and order? Or, you think by development you can change the mind of people?”

When asked why Abdullah was catering to the separatist sentiment now when he chose to spoke differently when in power, he responded: “You are losing Kashmir. You better wake up, and start thinking on not a military solution, but a political way. And come down from your high horses…I am seeing a very bad situation. The youth is on boil. Which I have not seen before.”

The situation remains tense in the Kashmir valley a day after violence and a historic low voter turnout, at seven percent, marred by-polls in Srinagar. The Election Commission has postponed the by-polls in Anantnag Parliamentary constituency to May 25, 2017.

At least 12 civilians were killed and over a hundred injured over the past two days in incidences of poll violence in Kashmir.

The United States offered to mediate between the warring neighbors. India has refused while Pakistan welcomed it, saying the world institutions should play its role – a hat still ganging on the closet-hat-rack since winter of 1948.

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