UNITED NATIONS: A ministerial panel of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has reaffirmed its support to the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination, and called on India and Pakistan to “expeditiously” resolve the Kashmir dispute. The call was issued by the OIC Contact Group, which met on the sidelines of the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly to review the latest development relating to the decades-old dispute over the Himalayan state. Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the OIC secretary-general, presided.
Attending the meeting were Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan, Saudi deputy foreign minister Turki al-Kabeer al-Saud and Niger’s UN ambassador Ousmane Moutari, who read out a message of support from his foreign minister. Pakistan was represented by foreign secretary Riaz Mohammed Khan. Representatives of the Kashmiri people, from both ‘Azad Kashmir’ and Indian Kashmir, also participated in the meeting. A report adopted by the group expressed solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and called for the protection of their fundamental human rights.
Recalling previous OIC and relevant UN resolutions, the group urged India and Pakistan to move the peace process forward and “to expeditiously resolve all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.” It appealed to India to reciprocate the “commendable flexibility” being shown by Pakistan. The meeting voiced its concern at the “continuing systematic human rights violations in India-occupied Kashmir and urged India to cease such violations.” It also asked India to allow an OIC fact-finding mission in Kashmir “as soon as possible.”
In his opening remarks, OIC Secretary General Ihsanoglu reiterated OIC’s continued support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle to achieve their right to self-determination. He stressed that “as one of the oldest unresolved issues on the agenda of the OIC, the Jammu and Kashmir dispute continues to remain a top priority for the Organization.” He appealed to India to reciprocate the constructive approach of Pakistan in order to give the peace process a renewed impetus. In his address to the contact group, the Pakistan foreign secretary elaborated the various Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) that had been initiated to raise the comfort level of the Kashmiri people. But he said that if the Kashmir dispute remained unsettled, the CBMs and improvements of relations could prove fragile and short-lived.
Riaz Khan reaffirmed Pakistan’s stance that the Kashmiri people must be associated with the peace process. A final settlement of the Kashmir dispute must be acceptable to all parties Pakistan, India, and the Kashmiri people. The Foreign Secretary also expressed concern over the continued human rights violations in Kashmir at the hands of the Indian forces. Babacan, the Turkish foreign minister, reaffirmed his country’s support for the Kashmiri people in their struggle to achieve their right to self-determination. He appreciated Pakistan’s constructive approach towards the dialogue process with India and called on New Delhi to respond positively.
The foreign minister also called for improvement in the human rights conditions of the Kashmiri people. Al-Saud, the Saudi deputy foreign minister, stressed the need to expeditious resolution the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute, which was the core issue between Pakistan and India. While welcoming the ongoing bilateral dialogue, he expressed the hope that it would be able to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Kashmir dispute. Moutari, Niger’s ambassador conveyed a message from his Foreign Minister expressing his country’s strong support for the Kashmiri people. While expressing deep concern over the grave human rights violations against the Kashmiri people, he called for their immediate end.
Addressing the meeting, ‘Azad Kashmir’ president, Raja Zulqarnain, appreciated the efforts of the OIC and its member states in supporting the Kashmiris’ struggle. He strongly supported the various initiatives taken by Pakistan and urged India to positively respond as well as to end its human rights violations in Kashmir. The representative of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, also addressed the meeting and urged OIC member states to impress upon India to end the human rights violations being perpetrated by its security forces against the Kashmiri people. The representatives of the Kashmiri people presented a memorandum to the Contact Group which contained proposals for both the OIC member states as well as the OIC Secretary General in order to peacefully resolve the Kashmir dispute. -SANA