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Strong Protest Lodged with the Dutch Charge d’Affaires in Islamabad

The Charge d’Affaires of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was summoned to the Foreign Office today and a strong protest was lodged on the announcement by leader of the Dutch Freedom Party and Parliamentarian Geert Wilders to hold a competition of blasphemous caricatures. Deep concern was conveyed at this deliberate and malicious attempt to defame Islam. The Federal Cabinet, in its meeting held today, strongly condemned this abominable and reprehensible plan. The Ambassador of Pakistan in The Hague has been instructed to forcefully raise the issue with the Dutch government along with Ambassadors of OIC member states. Pakistan’s Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York and Geneva have also been directed to take up the matter with the UN Secretary General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN related bodies and procedures. Former Foreign Minister had written to OIC Secretary General also seeking his leadership in this matter, who in turn has written to the Dutch Foreign Minister on behalf of the OIC, protesting against this abominable event. The matter would also be discussed in the forthcoming meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the 73rd session of United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2018. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will lead the Pakistan delegation to this meeting and raise the issue of blasphemous caricatures. The Government of Pakistan would continue to vigorously pursue the matter with the Dutch government and raise it at the relevant international fora from preventing this abhorrent act taking place.

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Countering Hate and Violence: What Should Indian Minorities Do?

Post from India: by Ram Puniyani The violence against religious minorities has been on the rise during last few years. Many a reports tell us not only about the overall rise in the violence but also about the portents of violence orchestrated in the name of Mother Cow and nationalism in recent times. It has increased the insecurity among the religious minorities to no end; leading to ghettotization, which has started affecting the social fabric in very adverse way. It is in this background that the efforts of Jamiat-e-Ulama Hind to start youth clubs for self defense have to be seen and assessed whether this is the right step? Maulana Mahmood Madani, the chief of the organization while telling about the efforts of his organizations gave an outline of the things to come. As per him the motto of the initiative is “to make youths capable of dealing with tough situations and help the country whenever there is a situation of crisis. He said that the outfit will provide training to the youths just like the Scouts and Guides.” Reacting to this the likes of Vinay Katiyar and spokesmen of RSS related organizations said that this may promote violence and that this is an attempt to copy RSS model, but it will not work. While Madani focused on the training like that of Boys Scouts and Guides, the self defense logic may lead it to an unwanted direction. Many a spokesmen from Muslim organizations have opposed this step of Jamiat by saying that Muslims have full faith in justice system and that giving safety and security to the citizens is the duty of the state. It’s undeniable that the feeling of insecurity among the Muslim and Christian community has seen an unprecedented rise; with the coming of Modi Sarkar to power. As such it has been RSS and its progeny which introduced the training in wielding lathi (baton), guns in a systematic way. RSS shakhas began with lathis in their shakhas. The question is that time the major problem of Indian society was with the British rule. Could they have used lathis against British? No way! It was primarily for the use within the society itself. From last few decades the Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini have been given training in guns as well. All this has been done in the name of self defense! What comes to one’s mind is that in post independence period we have the rule of law with Indian Constitution as the fulcrum of our values. Here we have police, judiciary for protection and justice. So what justifies the program of RSS combine in so called arms training? RSS is very fascinated with arms and every Dusshera day they worship armaments. They have an exhibition of armaments. There are reports doubting whether the police have information about these armaments with RSS, while they do hold license for that. While talking of non violence; RSS has glorified the arms and indulged in training the young boys and girls in these weapons. On the top of this RSS affiliates have undertaken Trishul (trident) distributions. These trishuls, which have been distributed times and over again; have contributed to rise in hate sentiments. Trishul has religiosity associated with Lord Shiva and is blunt; while the trishuls distributed by these groups have sharp edges like knife. Legal positions apart; such ‘self defense’ organized by communities is a negative phenomenon. Dilemmas of Muslim community and organizations like Jamiat are well taken. What should be the role of minority organizations in such troubled times? There are Muslim organizations which are opposing Jamiat’s move. Community’s plight cannot be saved by training some youths in techniques of scouts and guide, neither in copying the methods of RSS combine. What is needed is to call for proper implementation of justice and policing mechanism. Most of the communal violence reports tell us about the partisan attitude of the police and the lax attitude of political parties is the main reason for violence going up and up. Justice has not been delivered in 1984 anti-Sikh massacre; it might have given the major boost to the culture of impunity. In Mumbai Sri Kirshna Commission report was not implemented, boosting the trend of where criminal can get away, innocents suffer and justice is denied. In Gujarat violence, post Godhra, which took place right under the nose of the most efficient chief minster; nearly two thousand Hindus and Muslims were done to death, while state was accomplice in the violence. The Jamiat leadership should think whether they are going in the right direction. Good intentions alone are not enough. Let’s identify the core cause of violence. It’s the Hate manufactured in society. Hate in turn has peaked to mountainous heights due to the misconceptions about the minority community enhanced lately due to abuse of social media in a systematic and planned way. Islam has been demonized as violent religion and Christians are looked down as converters. In Gujarat the travails of the likes of Teesta Setalvad, foremost human rights activist, tell us that getting justice is a humongous task. The need to counter the divisive propaganda done by our TV channels, done through section of media and spruced up by social media needs to be countered. The perceptions about our medieval period, freedom movement and all inclusive nature of Indian nationalism need to be taken far and wide. What is needed is a broad alliance of those concerned about the security and protection of human rights of all. Right to life has lately been compromised heavily. All those working for preservation and promotion of rights of citizens need to come to uphold the basic Indian ethos of pluralism and the core values of Indian Constitution. Jamiat like organizations will do better by focusing on training the youth in the abilities to counter Hate by spreading the message of peace and love, by training them in countering the prevalent misconceptions against religious minorities and against weaker sections of society.

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The Aaland Islands Model and Kashmir

Post from the US: Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, July 29, 2018 There are some disputes in modern history that one might take lessons from in understanding the wisest course to take in resolving the Kashmiri dispute. The Aaland Islands is a case in point, as are South Tyrol, Trieste, Andorra, and Northern Ireland, each of which was contested by neighboring countries. Finland and Sweden both coveted The Aaland Islands; South Tyrol was in dispute between Austria and Italy; Trieste was divided between Italy and Yugoslavia; Andorra is a small principality. Virtually all of these cases, the country in question was seized or split in two in the course of war between neighboring countries. Understanding the Aaland Islands means seeing its problems in the larger context of Finland, Sweden and their political and social milieu. Finland had been an integral part of the Kingdom of Sweden for six centuries. They had shared a common culture together, Finns spoke Swedish and Swedes spoke Finnish. But the Finns and the Swedes were different. The Swedes were of Germanic origin, of Viking stock, as were the Norwegians and Danes, imposing as they did one of the earliest empires in history on Northern Europe, and dominating other cultures in the region. They were agrarian, settled and lived from what they grew, not from what they found or captured. But despite having a common monarch, Sweden was Sweden and Finland was Finland. Finnish people are often called the white Eskimos. They have a nomadic oriental heritage (by some historians regarded as "the lost tribe of the Mongols). They shared common heritage with other people who had settled around the Baltic Sea, including Estonia and Hungary, known as the Finn-Urgics, whose origins were rooted in the Ural Mountains of Russia in a marriage, literally, by Ghengis Khan, leader of the Mongols, to a young teenage Hun bride. The Ural Mountains had been settled by the Mongols during the rein of Ghengis Khan, occupied then by the Huns, a people who had migrated north from the Middle East, a people said to have originated in one of the Abrahamic tribes. The languages of Sweden, Norway and Denmark are of Indo-European origin. However, they have virtually nothing in common etiologically with the language of the Finns. The Finns were mystical, pantheistic, with shamanistic practices. The Swedes followed the Pope. In 1808, things changed. After six centuries of Swedish rule, Finland was invaded by Russia in a war against Sweden, seeking greater access to the Baltic for greater military and economic strength. Finland's eastern border is shared by Russia. Its western border was primarily the Gulf of Bothnia, gateway by way of the Aaland Islands to the Baltic Sea. A little more than a year later, Russia forced Sweden to secede Finland on September 2, 1809 in the Treaty of Fredrikshamn. Under the Russians, Finland became the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, allowing them a certain amount of political power in return for the advantages of access to the sea. The Aaland Islands, occupied by Swedish people, was severed from its ties to family and relatives, and made a part of the duchy. However, such a deal could not have anticipated the overthrow of the Russian monarchy and the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, when Finland declared independence. Under the Swedes, Finland had also enjoyed some autonomy, so her independence with the downfall of the Tsar and major upheaval going on in Russia was a default instinct. That declaration created then a new power struggle and civil war in Finland to fill the vacuum between conservative pro-Finnish "Whites" and a communist faction in the labor movement that was pro-Bolshevik and pro-Russian who were known as "Reds." Aside from such political differences, independence had also been spurred by Russian Tsar Nicolas II's plan for the "Russification" of Finland, which imposed serious cultural, language and religious restrictions on Finnish traditions from 1905 on. Russia's attitude toward the Finns was identical to current Indian attitudes toward Kashmir. The tsar intended to abrogate their autonomous status and incorporated them fully into the Russian state. Finland's resistance led finally to full independence from Russia. But it was not through war. With the Tsar overthrown, the new government already had its hands full, and the Bolsheviks had already announced that any ethnic groups that were not Russian were free to choose their own course through self-determination. Finland chose to do just that. The Aaland Islands had already petitioned the Russians to secede from Finland and join Sweden. The cry for independence in Finland set in motion Swedish aspirations to be among their own, to secede from Finland and join Sweden as they had been little more than a century earlier. By means of a petition and supported by more than 96% of the population, they then petitioned the new government of Finland and proposed seceding from Finland, joining Sweden, to come under Swedish government control. The Swedish government, however, was not uniformly excited by the prospect or concerned about the Aaland Islanders or their interests for reasons having to do with internal politics more than anything else. The ideological struggles taking place in Russia and Finland were causing disarray in execution of policy in Sweden as well. As such their support for the petition was weak, and as a result it was less of a dispute between Sweden and Finland than a dispute between the Aaland Islands and Finland. Britain had submitted the Aaland Islands issue to the League of Nations rather than either Sweden or Finland. Britain believed that international peace was at stake in a matter that was seen by Finland as an internal dispute. (Sounds familiar: “Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so.” Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India. September 26, 2016). The Aaland Islands had been the subject of numerous international disputes over the issue of keeping it demilitarized due to its strategic location in the mouth of the Gulf of Bothnia, the large body of water separating Sweden and Finland. When the League agreed to consider the dispute, Finland immediately declared that the matter was outside the scope of the authority of the League of Nations since it was a matter to be resolved internally by the country itself. Procedurally, the League would then have submitted the matter to the Permanent Court of International Justice for review to determine the legality of Finland's claim over the Aaland Islands, but since the Court was just then in the process of formation, a panel of three jurists, the Aaland Commission of Jurists, having international repute was selected to adjudicate. The Commission consisted of Ferdinand Larnaude, Dean of the Law Faculty of Paris and president of the Commission, Max Huber, a University of Zurich professor of international law, and A. Struycken, a Dutch politician and councilor of the Netherlands’ government. The panel determined that, given the nature of Finland's recent independence from Russia and questions remaining regarding its legal statehood, and the separate struggle of the Aaland Islands in respect to both Russia and Finland, Finland's sovereignty over the Islands was not set in stone and therefore subject to consideration by the League. "The Aaland question is one that extends beyond the sphere of domestic policy," they said. Following the report of the Commission of Jurists on the question of jurisdiction, the Council appointed a second commission, known as the Commission of Rapporteurs, to advise the Council further on the merits of the dispute. Their decision is quite significant in understanding the issue of how and when, in the international community, self-determination is regarded as a legitimate demand. One would think that the autonomy the Aaland Islands had enjoyed under the Grand Duchy of Finland would have been substantial reason alone to have granted them their wish to join Sweden. They needed autonomy under Finland because they wanted to be ruled by Swedes and Swedish laws in a culture of a Swedish making. The overwhelming opinion by a 95 percent majority expressing such a will was another factor that should have been given more weight. The notion that Finland had been a state for a century, to be treated as any other sovereign state, was a useful distortion of fact and legal trickery, clearly challenged by the Commission of Jurists, particularly since sovereign control of both Finland and the Aaland Islands had not been held by Finland but by Russia. The Commission of Rapporteurs obviously ignored the facts and chose to parade the views of tyrants whose positions in power were used to advance a narrow agenda not of the people but of state largesse. State, to them, was land, not people. The people were victims of whatever ambitions and greed provoked the state. Upon receiving the news of the report, Karl Hjalmar Branting, the prime minister of Sweden from 1920 through 1925, read the following declaration: "On behalf of the Swedish Government I have the honour to make the following statement: –" "It is with a feeling of profound disappointment that the Swedish nation will learn of the Resolution of the Council of the League of Nations". "In supporting the cause of the people of the Aaland Islands before Europe and the League of nations, Sweden was not influenced by the desire to increase her territory. She only wished to support noble and just aspirations and to defend the right of an absolutely homogenous island population to reunite itself to its mother-country, from which it had been detached by force, but to which it is still united by the ties of a common origin, a common history, and a common national spirit. This population has declared to the whole world its unanimous wish not to be bound to a country to which it had been joined by force of arms alone. ”The Swedish Government had hoped that an institution, which was established to assist in the realisation of right in international relationships, would have favoured a solution of the Aaland question in conformity with the principle of self-determination, which, although not recognised as a part of international law, has received so wide an application in the formation of the New Europe. It had hoped that the Aalanders would not be refused the rights, which have been recognised in respect of their Slesvig brothers, who belong, as do the Aalanders, to the Scandinavian race. It had hoped that, in the very special case under consideration, in which right appears so evident, and in which the wishes of the population have been expressed with such unusual unanimity, the League of Nations would have filled, at least on this occasion the role of the champion and defender of right, and thus, by its first decision, would have proclaimed the dawn of a new international order. ”To-day, when the decision of the Council has frustrated that hope, the Swedish Government is obliged to express the fear that the Council has grievously shaken the confidence that the peoples, particularly those who, like Sweden, have long been striving to accomplish international law, have had in the League of nations – an institution great task entrusted to it by the Covenant, it is absolute necessary that it should possess that confidence. ”The Swedish Government is not of opinion that the settlement of the Aaland question which is suggested by the Council is likely to confer upon the Baltic area the peace that is desired. Nor yet is it of opinion that a population as homogenous as that of the Aaland Islands, of whose wishes so little account has been taken, can add to the strength of a country to which it is attached against its unanimous desire. ”Sweden is ready loyally to recognise that the decision of the Council has the force given to it by the Covenant. But Sweden will not abandon the hope that the day will come when the idea of justice shall have so permeated the conscience of the peoples, that the claims inspired by such noble motives and a national feeling as deep as that of the population of the Aaland Isles will be triumphally vindicated. Thus it will make its voice heard, and will at last have justice done to it.” The view that power originates, proceeds from, and is vested in government over and above the wishes of the people, whether minority or majority, is deeply flawed. There would be no government without individuals who form compacts with others around them for common defense, for a means of establishing mechanisms and networks for producing and exchanging goods to better livelihood, and for maintaining peace and order. We are not bound to such social contracts by the will of the government we have created. The government serves at the pleasure of those who have created it. Only individuals make contracts, not groups. There is no legal entity called "we" or some collective consciousness that usurps my individual will to be taken over by the state or some private society. My Facebook friends have not committed me to any agenda simply by virtue of being in an association with them, nor has society. Government has no mind of its own, no will of its own, no power of its own. It exists for me solely because I acknowledge it in my affairs and consent to its decrees. It has no intrinsic need for self-preservation over the wishes of the people it serves. It is we who preserve it. Does it make sense to build a computer that takes over our lives, or should the computer serve simply as a tool to be used for a narrow set of needs? As James Madison wrote, "the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived. Federalist No. 49 (February 2, 1788). Sweden's handling of the matter and its decision to abide by the League Covenant left a sour taste in the mouths of the islanders, but to their good credit, Finland has cultivated excellent relations with them since. It exemplifies greatly the point that communal differences need not be barriers to good governance, and that different cultures can live in peace side by side when they are treated equally by the political and administrative processes, as Finland has shown to have done. In South Asia, the conflict here too is primarily between Kashmir and its occupying power. There are three parties to the dispute - India and Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. But Kashmiris are the principal party to the dispute. While Pakistan has supported UN resolutions which call for a plebiscite to be held to determine the wishes of the people. India, of course, will have nothing to do with it. India takes the view that the state is something tangible to be defended for its own sake, which includes land as well as people. State boundaries are merely fictitious and imaginary lines drawn on a map. The real state boundaries include only a coalition of the willing. The Aaland Islands and Kashmir share a common challenge drawn along similar lines, where a culture whose language and traditions differ from those of a particular group of people insists upon maintaining possession of their land and their politics and will not observe the wishes of the people or accede to the territory having a greater affinity for its traditions and which might propose to have a claim as well. There are similarities as well as significant differences between the Aaland Islands and Kashmir dispute. Both issues were taken to the world body, Aaland Islands before the League of Nations and Kashmir dispute before the United Nations. When the League of Nations agreed to consider the Aaland Islands dispute, Finland immediately declared that the matter was outside the scope of the authority of the League since it was a matter to be resolved internally by the country itself. But when Kashmir dispute was brought before the United Nations, both India and Pakistan agreed to give the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir. Second, the situation in Kashmir prevails in what is recognized - under international law and by the United States - as a disputed territory. According to the international agreements between India and Pakistan, negotiated by the United Nations and endorsed by the Security Council, Kashmir’s status is to be determined by the free vote of its people under U.N. supervision. Third, Kashmir situation represents a Government's repression not of a secessionist or separatist movement but of an uprising against foreign occupation, an occupation that was expected to end under determinations made by the United Nations. The Kashmiris are not and cannot be called separatists because they cannot secede from a country to which they have never acceded to in the first place. Lastly, the most ideal government is that which was envisioned by Abraham Lincoln when he spoke of a "government of the people, by the people, for the people", in his address at the Gettysburg battlefield. Anything else is tyranny.

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It seems safer in many places to be a cow than a Muslim

Post from India: by Shashi Tharoor, 22 July, 2018 [Courtesy: The Print] Home minister Rajnath Singh’s robust denial (during the no-confidence debate in the Lok Sabha) that mob lynching has got any worse under BJP rule comes hard on the heels of union minister for minority affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, declaring earlier this month that there have been “no big communal riots” in India over the past four years. Both are wrong, of course, but it is instructive to analyze how wrong they are. Since the ascent of the BJP to power, the forces unleashed by the dominance of Hindutva have resulted in many incidents of violence. In one grim reckoning, more than 389 individuals have been killed in anti-minority acts of violence since mid-2014, and hundreds of others injured, stripped, beaten and humiliated. Particularly haunting is the story of 15-year-old Junaid Khan, returning home on a crowded train after buying new clothes for Eid, who was stabbed repeatedly because he was Muslim and thrown off the train to bleed to death on the tracks. Headlines have spoken continually of riots and killing, Hindu against Muslim, of men being slaughtered because of the mark on a forehead or the absence of a foreskin. Following the BJP’s victory in the 2014 elections, a wave of Hindu triumphalism has swept the land. In its wake have come new laws to protect cows and vociferous demands for their strict enforcement. Gau-rakshak or cow protection societies have been revived, and many have taken it upon themselves to compel compliance. In the process, not only have they taken the law into their own hands, but they have perpetrated grave crimes, including murder, in the name of protecting the cow. Seventy cases of cow-related violence have been reported in the last eight years, of which 97 per cent (68 out of 70) have occurred during the four years of BJP rule and a majority of these have occurred in BJP-ruled states. A hundred and thirty six people have been injured in these attacks and 28 killed: 86 per cent of the victims were, of course, Muslim. Many of the incidents are well known: the case of a dairy farmer, Pehlu Khan, transporting cattle legally with a license, being beaten to death on 1 April 2017 while his tormentors filmed his pleas for mercy on their mobile phones is particularly egregious. A cattle-herder in Haryana, Mustain Abbas, was murdered and mutilated a year earlier for doing his job, herding cattle. Truckers, cattle traders and alleged cow smugglers have also been killed by ‘gau rakshak’ groups. A 16-year-old Kashmiri Muslim boy was murdered for having hitched a ride on a truck that was transporting cattle. It seems safer in many places these days to be a cow than a Muslim. In 2015, when a Muslim, Mohammad Akhlaq, father of a serving Indian Air Force havildar, was lynched by a mob in Uttar Pradesh on suspicions of having killed a cow, the authorities launched a forensic investigation into whether the meat in his refrigerator was beef (it was not). The fact that the man had been killed and his son nearly beaten to death was equated with an unfounded allegation of beef consumption, as if the latter ‘crime’ could extenuate the former. Worse, when a man who was part of the lynch mob died of natural causes a few weeks later, his coffin was draped with the Indian flag and a serving union minister who attended his funeral hailed him – an unspeakable act, and coming from a high office-holder of the secular Indian state, an unacceptable one. Muslims have not been the only targets of the cow vigilantes, of course. There are also Dalits. But the communal colour that marked each of these incidents speaks to the inaccuracy of the ministers’ statements. Perhaps they would take refuge behind the assertion that these were isolated incidents rather than mass communal violence. Yet they speak of a pervasive pattern that has deeply affected society across the country. And when another minister is accused of condoning such incidents by garlanding members of a lynch-mob, society shivers. (He says these individuals were framed and are out on bail, but regrets having garlanded them: the damage, though, is done.) There is a tragic vocabulary to the analysis of communal violence in our country. A “major” communal incident is one that results in more than five deaths or leaves over 10 people injured. An incident that results in one death or 10 injured is termed as “important or significant”. Naqvi spoke of “big” communal riots, but “big” is not a term of art in our national lexicology, and it cannot be defined. “Major”, however, is surely “big”, and three “major communal incidents” have been reported during the BJP rule – Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh in 2014, Hazinagar, West Bengal in 2016 and Baduria-Basirhat, also in West Bengal in 2017. When we move from “major”, however, to merely “important”, the number of “communal incidents” in the last four years rises to 2,920, in which 389 people were killed and 8,890 injured. My source is Rajnathji’s own government: these figures come from a reply by the home ministry to questions in the Lok Sabha. According to the government, Uttar Pradesh (UP), somewhat predictably, reported the most incidents over the last four years, a staggering 645. UP also reported the most deaths in these communal incidents (121) between 2014 and 2017, followed by Rajasthan (36) and Karnataka (35). The venues for communal rioting on the BJP’s watch have ranged from Ballabgarh, Haryana, in 2015 to Bhima-Koregaon, Maharashtra, this year. The home ministry’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) collects and maintains nationwide crime records, which naturally includes riots. NCRB data confirm that over 2,885 communal riots were reported between 2014 and 2016. Many others may not have been recorded as communal; as many as 61,974 riots were reported in 2016 under Sections 147 to 151 and 153A of the IPC (the latter records cases relating to “promoting enmity on ground of religion, race and place of birth”). In 2016, 869 communal riots were reported, the largest number in Haryana (250). The figures for 2017 haven’t been released yet. More than halfway into 2018, I dread what they are likely to reveal. We have a government that seems to believe it can issue statements with utter disregard for the truth and people will believe them. This is the only explanation for the two ministers’ breathtaking assertions. It matches the Prime Minister’s claims on the economy and the government’s blandly disingenuous PR pronouncements on everything from electrification to women’s empowerment. But facts and figures matter. And the numbers simply do not add up to the picture the government seeks to portray.

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India Should Not Reject UN Report on Kashmir

[Special Pick, Courtesy Human Rights Watch: by Meeankshi Ganguly, HRW South Asia Director] India’s government dismissed the first-ever United Nations report on human rights in Kashmir as “fallacious, tendentious, and motivated,” saying the findings are “overtly prejudiced” and seek to “build a false narrative.” India can – and should – do better in confronting its own human rights failures. While the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) acknowledged the “political dimensions” of the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, its report sought to highlight the decades of suffering by millions of Kashmiris. These human rights concerns have been well documented. Cross-border shelling by Indian and Pakistani troops have killed and injured hundreds. Tens of thousands of indigenous Kashmiri Hindus remain displaced after being forced to flee the valley. Thousands have been forcibly disappeared, their wives described as “half widows.” More than 50,000 people have died since the insurgency broke out in 1989. Kashmiris have been tortured or summarily executed by state security forces and threatened or killed by militants. There are serious allegations of sexual violence by all forces. Now, hardly a day goes by without violent protests, even as scores of young Kashmiris are signing up for militancy. India’s kneejerk, bombastic statement is hardly the response of a government intent on a seat at the UN Security Council and other global decision-making bodies. Indian authorities, in official statements, have acknowledged the increasing violence in Jammu and Kashmir. In fact, the government called a ceasefire during Ramadan in the hope of calming the fury stemming from ongoing abuses and failure of accountability, and is now considering an extension. India should welcome the UN report, and commit to act on its findings, including providing access to the UN human rights office. As a first step it should seek a repeal of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, as has been recommended by several international and Indian experts. It should order an investigation into alleged violations by the security forces and prosecute those found responsible, instead of rewarding abusive soldiers. Addressing grievances is what responsible governments are supposed to do. They don’t deny and blame the messenger. And they certainly don’t accuse the UN high commissioner for human rights of prejudice.

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How do we Promote Peace in India, Today?

Post from India: by Ram Puniyani We are passing through times when Hate against weaker sections of society and religious minorities is increasing by leaps and bounds. The increase in the mob lynching all over the country on the pretext of child lifting is coming on the back of mob lynching on the pretext cow-beef, public flogging-humiliation of dalits on the issue of beef and other issues related their caste humiliation. Mobs seem to be emboldened by the fact that there has been an approval of these acts from the top. Ministers like Mahesh Sharma came to the funeral of Dadri accused, now Mr. Jayant Sinha welcomed the accused of Alimuddin lynching accused when they got bail. The matters are frighteningly increasing as now the horrid incidents of rape are being given a communal twist, fake news is being employed with impunity on one side and rape accused are getting social support on the other. It’s a matter of shame that in case of Kathua the then Ministers from BJP Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, attended the event organized by Hindu Ekta Manch, which was protesting against the arrests in the case. Now in case of Mandsaur rape, the incident is being given false twist to demonize a community. The accused belonged to Muslim community. Muslim groups took out a procession demanding severe punishment to the accused. Jyotiradiya Scindiya of Congress joined a candle light procession to demand death penalty to the accused. Social media was used to spread the hateful message as if he was demanding the release of the accused. The pictures of procession were photo shopped to present Muslims in bad light. A message was circulated, which said that members of the Muslim community rallied in Mandsaur demanding that the perpetrator of the crime be released because the Quran sanctions rape of non-Muslim women. The text of the placards in the Mandsaur procession was “We won’t tolerate attacks on daughters, stop this brutality”. A tweet was circulated “NCRB report: India is most dangerous for women reason: In India, 95% of the rape cases have a Muslim perpetrator. Of the total 84734 rape cases, 81000 rapes had a Muslim rapist and 96% of the victims are non-Muslims and with an increase in theirpopulation, number of rapes will also increase.” Nothing can be farther from truth. NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) does not record the religion in cases of rape. This tweet and the one about Jyotiraditya Scindia was exposed by AltNews, the portal going to the roots of such fake news and is doing a great service to society by giving the truth and exposing the news which is deliberately trying to demonize the religious minority. One recalls that in case of Muzzafarnagar; the violence was incited by circulating a photo of two young men being beaten by a Muslim looking crowd. It was presented that Hindu youth are being beaten. As such that picture was from Pakistan, the crowd beating two thieves. Recently in Kairana the Mahagathbandhan candidate Tabassum Hasan won the election against the BJP candidate. After winning she stated “This is the victory of truth and ‘Mahagatbandhan’ (coalition) and defeat of the BJP in the state and Centre. Everyone has come out and supported us. I thank them.” On social media and on TV debates what was presented was that she said “This is the victory of Allah and defeat of Ram”. This quote was posted on a number of pro-BJP pages on Facebook among which Yogi Adityanath-True Indian posted it on 1 June, and was shared massively. One recalls that in recent times BJP has deliberately muddied the waters of social media by employing thousands of trolls, as Swati Chaturvedi’s “I am a Troll”, tells us. As such the hate propaganda began with demonization of Muslim kings for breaking Hindu temples in medieval period, for spreading Islam, for having large families, indulging in polygamy, being terrorists etc. Now it has taken a dangerous turn with people trained in communal ideology and in the use of social media twisting the facts blatantly. There are reports that in the forthcoming elections BJP is planning to train lakhs of volunteers in the use of social media for electoral gains. The rising hatred is becoming like a monster, propelling itself beyond control. Can we just accuse the social media for intensifying this hate? Some control and restraint is needed, some fact check is necessary for this highly impactful media. What is also needed is that mechanisms like AltNews are made more popular to counter these falsehoods. It is heartening to note that Twitter has decided to suspend seven Crore fake accounts. We also need to ensure that the misconceptions and Hate which is ruling our society, streets need to be countered by message of love. What we need is that truth is propagated and message of peace is made more effective. We have activists like Faisal Khan, who through his Khudai Khidmatagar takes out peace marches. Harsh Mander’s Paigam-E-Mohabbat (Message of peace) has been doing yeomen service by meeting the families of victims of lynching and creating an atmosphere of amity. Mahant from Ayodhya Yugal Kishore Sharan Shastri, through his less advertised peace marches is trying to reach sections of society with a message of tolerance and peace. Such efforts need to be upheld and broadened. These are just few examples of the initiatives in this direction, there are many more which need to be projected to promote and preserve amity in India. Countering Hate and promoting amity became the central message of father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who struggled to promote peace, in the highest traditions of his Hinduism. As the fake news is assuming frightening proportions and is doing serious harm to the concept of fraternity inherent in Indian nationalism, we need to retune ourselves to the core value of amity, which was the foundation of freedom movement and is very much the part of our Constitution.

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Kashmir Martyrs’ Day – July 13th

Post from Washington: Statement by World Kashmir Awareness Forum Washington, D.C. July 13h, 2018. “It was on July 13, 1931, that the foreign occupying Dogra troops shot dead 22 Kashmiris, in cold blood, in front of Srinagar Central Jail. Since that ominous day, Kashmiris have organized peaceful protests, seminars and conferences throughout the world. The people of Kashmir observe the Martyrs Day to reaffirm their resolve to continue their struggle for self-determination and pay homage to the 100,000 innocent men, women and children killed brutally within the past 29 years. In Srinagar, a massive march will take place towards the martyrs’ graveyard at Naqashband Sahib. This march has been approved by Joint Resistance Leadership – Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik. We clearly and unequivocally call for all Kashmiris to continue to increase their solidarity at this critical juncture. As we know that Indian impotence, willful ignorance and desperation to avoid a meaningful peace process and initiate wimpy attempts to pacify Kashmiri passion will fail miserably,” stated Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF). Fai emphasized that the Kashmiri people’s resolve and continued commitment to peaceful protest is principled on the ongoing massive violations of their human rights, and the Indian Government’s atrocious dismissal of their aspirations for self-determination. Amnesty International (AI) report, for India (2017-2018) says, “Impunity for human rights abuses (in Jammu and Kashmir) persisted. ..Security forces continued to use inherently inaccurate pellet-firing shotguns during protests, blinding and injuring several people. Authorities frequently shut down internet services, citing public order concerns.” In that regard, the recent report issued by the United Nations on June 14, 2018 on the situation in Kashmir, is congratulatory. The report underscored that “Impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.” And that “Impunity for enforced or involuntary disappearances in Kashmir continues as there has been little movement towards credibly investigating complaints including into alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region.” The people of Kashmir clearly have little faith in or respect for the so-called Indian democracy, and India hasn’t the slightest idea how to earn it. It’s solution to the anger of people crying for freedom and a respite, at the very least, from the terror of 700,000 troops, is to clamp down even harder, adding to the death toll of such a policy that now approaches the six-figure range. The desire for self-determination is the one very big “element” India should be concerned about, yet continues to pretend to the world that it does not exist. However long India refuses to acknowledge it, the decades-old movement in Kashmir will not simply die out. Even the latest United Nations report recommends to the Government of India to, “ “Fully respect the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir as protected under international law.” Fai discounted the United Nations hopes that the Kashmir dispute could be settled through bilateral talks between India and Pakistan. He recounted the litany of failed bilateral efforts and said that the people of Kashmir have steadfastly maintained that tripartite talks between the Governments of India & Pakistan and the legitimate leadership of the people of Kashmir, are the only way to resolve the Kashmir issue. We appeal to the world powers to recognize the long-standing wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people as they observe Martyrs Day, July 13th. And we hope that the world powers will realize that what is at stake in the dispute is not only the survival of the people of Kashmir but also the peace and stability in the region of South Asia.

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Was Emergency in India akin to Hitler’s Regime?

Special Pick from India, Ram Puniyani: On the eve of 43rd anniversary of the Emergency, which was imposed on the country in 1975, BJP has come out strongly condemning the event, has issued half page advertisement and Modi said that it was imposed to save the power of a family. There are claims that BJP’s parent organization RSS and its political predecessors valiantly fought against emergency. Surprisingly many streams of Indian politics, like CPI (M), shades of socialists, and sections of dissident Congress streams who fought against Emergency did not make any noise about their role. While Congress itself has not overtly criticized the act of its leader Indira Gandhi, it needs to be recalled that Mrs. Gandhi had regretted the excesses during this period in a speech in Yavatmal in 1978. Apart from Jaitly and BJP leaders there are many others also who compare the authoritarian regime and its excesses with what happened during Hitler’s fascist regime. It’s true that during this period there was a serious violation of democratic freedoms. The similarity with Hitler’s fascist regime ends here. The main mechanism of Hitler’s regime was to instigate emotions, ntensifying divisiveness by activating the storm troopers and targeting against the racial minority; the Jews. Other characteristics of his regime were to promote the interests of big business houses and suppress the rights of working class in particular. It projected the golden past and also promoted ultra nationalism and implemented muscular foreign policy leading the soured relations with neighbors. People like Einstein left the country. The targeting of racial minorities was the central and most conspicuous part of the policy. The excesses which took place during emergency were not targeting any minority. It’s true that the pavement dwellers suffered a lot, demolitions and the compulsory vasectomy of poor sections affected Muslims as well, but it was not targeted against Muslim community in any way. How can one say that Emergency which was authoritarianism was not fascism in any way? In fascist methods what is central to the undermining of democracy is to operate through the mechanism of mobilization of foot soldiers, whipping up mass hysteria and giving prominence to emotive issues. Let’s remember Indira Gandhi herself had lifted the Emergency and called for elections in a democratic way, elections in which she suffered a massive defeat. In Germany fascist regime destroyed Germany itself. While a lot is being said about emergency, what was the role of RSS during this period? The claims that RSS was a central force to fight against this regime are a cock and bull story. TV Rajeswar, who served as Governor of Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim after his retirement from service, in his book, ‘India: The Crucial Years” [Harper Collins] tells us “Not only they (RSS) were supportive of this [Emergency], they wanted to establish contact apart from Mrs. Gandhi, with Sanjay Gandhi also”. Rajeswar in an interview with Karan Thapar disclosed that Deoras “quietly established a link with the PM’s house and expressed strong support for several steps taken to enforce order and discipline in the country. Deoras was keen to meet Mrs. Gandhi and Sanjay. But Mrs. Gandhi refused.”As a matter of fact the executioners of emergency excesses found good favor with BJP as it was formed after Jana Sangh component leaving the Janata Party. One recalls the emergency time slogan, “Aapatkal ke tin dalal: Sanjay, Vidya, Bansilal” (three executioners of Emergency: Sanjay, Vidya, Bansilal). Later BJP gave ticket to Vidya Charan Shukla, and allied with Bansilal to form the Government in Haryana. Sanjay Gandhi’s wife Maneka was taken in to BJP and became minister without ever condemning the excesses committed during that period. As a matter of fact what is happening today is much more repressive though there is no official emergency. Many have labeled it as undeclared emergency. Nayantara Sahgal, who was a strong critic of Emergency, has stated very aptly that “…we have an undeclared Emergency; there is no doubt about that. We have seen a huge, massive attack on the freedom of expression.” The observation is that there are killings of innocent, helpless Indians killed because they did not fit into the RSS’s view of India. Every dissent is labeled as anti-National. She continues “Writers like Gauri Lankesh have been killed. And there has been no justice for the families of the wage earners who have lost their lives in this fashion. In fact they are now being called the accused. So we have a horrendous situation, a nightmare which is worse than the Emergency.” Similarly we know that today the dangers to civic liberties and democratic rights is through the ideologically indoctrinated foot soldiers, who have been called fringe elements, but as such they are part of a clear division of labor, working against Indian Constitution and for Hindu Nation. The prevalence of violence against religious minorities, the intimidation, the lynching in the name of Holy cow, beef, love jihad, ghar wapasi has become a sort of New Normal of present regime. It not only goes beyond the authoritarian regime but borders on the divisive politics which is out to relegate the religious minorities to second class status in the country. While the top rulers keep quiet in cases of serious violations, the ground level vigilantes have a field day in furthering the agenda which is outcome of RSS ideology. Lately even the use of tricolor to instigate violence as witnessed in Kasgaonj is further stifling our democracy. We need to distinguish between the authoritarian regime of Emergency where the machinery of state was used to suppress democratic rights with fascist regimes which are guided by narrow nationalism and target the minorities while pushing forward Hindu nationalism and bringing in divisions in society on sectarian grounds. Democracy is stifled in both cases, but in narrow nationalism the very concept of citizenship is denied to the sections o society on the grounds of their religion or race. And this is the crucial marker of sectarian nationalism.

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Fresh thinking is needed to cut the Gordian knot in Kashmir

Post from America by Dr Ghulam Nabi FAI. The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) [Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik] in Kashmir has shown willingness to talk provided the Government of India clarifies the parameters of talks. In an interview with The Indian Express, (June 5, 2018) Dineshwar Sharma, Indian Government’s Interlocutor said, “When I talk to the younger generation there (Kashmir), often they confront me with so many questions and even talk about Azaadi… Any rational discussion will be possible when we are able to first address the sentiment of the people…” In this interview, Mr. Sharma has made it clear that the sentiments of the people of Kashmir are for Azaadi. I believe that fresh thinking is needed to cut the Gordian knot in Kashmir, which has been flailed at for more than 70 years bilaterally between India and Pakistan without result. All parties concerned i.e. the Governments of India & Pakistan and the leadership of the people of Kashmir -- should recognize the necessity of adjusting or re-thinking the modalities of implementing any plan to suit present-day circumstances. But what is not acceptable is any erosion far less a negation, of the principle of the will and sentiments of the people of Kashmir. We know that all international conflicts ultimately were resolved on the negotiating table. If that is true then the world powers should become deeply engaged in order to make sure that the peace process between India and Pakistan once initiated does not get derailed. They can play a bridge building to bring parties together so that the animosity is done away with and the dawn of dialogue and engagement is sustained. They need to make sure that the policy of conflict resolution adopted by both New Delhi and Islamabad over the Kashmir dispute is consistent, coherent, transparent and dependable. We are mindful of the urgings by the United Nations that India and Pakistan keep talking to each other. It would be perverse on the part of anyone to oppose that course of action. But to expect a breakthrough in talks is to ask for miracles. It would be irresponsible on our part to encourage the hope that if the Governments of India and Pakistan are willing to depart from the stand of principle, the compromise will be endorsed by the people of Kashmir. During the long years of domestic and international political chess by India, Pakistan and the United Nations, it must be stressed, the people of Kashmir themselves have been denied even the role of a pawn. Their voices have neither been summoned nor heard; yet they have suffered the most in daily and harrowing human rights violations. It’s interesting how problematic it is for India & Pakistan to agree that Kashmiris themselves have a stake in any talks about their future. In what kind of democratic process would this not be of prime consideration? The moral, legal and historical foundations for such a principle have been frequently raised not only by Kashmiris but by the world community as well, which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as in the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. India and Pakistan have had more than 150 official rounds of talks in the last seven decades to discuss conflicts and differences between them. The by-product of every round of talk was an agreement to meet again to talk. In consequence, the peace process between parties has always remained an illusion. Talks have always proved barren because both India and Pakistan have never defined the parameters of talks. The talks were never meant to be time bound with specific benchmarks that would define and characterize progress. History testifies that the dispute will not, and cannot, be solved bilaterally by the two disputants. Both India and Pakistan have to agree to include the leadership of Kashmiri political resistance to explore the lasting solution of the dispute. We are fully aware that the settlement of the Kashmir dispute cannot be achieved in one move. Like all qualified observers, we visualize successive steps or intermediate solutions in the process. It is one thing, however, to think of a settlement over a relatively extended period of time. It is atrociously different to postpone the beginning of the process on that account. The plan of action that would ensure for all components of the State as it existed on August 15, 1947 equal representation and equal freedom to decide whether to continue the status quo or to opt for a new dispensation is not difficult to work out. It can be done by a joint committee composed of the rightly qualified people from India and Pakistan who would consult the leadership of the people of Kashmir and also, as necessary, experts from the United Nations. What is desperately needed is an affirmation by Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan of the necessity of taking new measures to effect the settlement of the dispute within a reasonable time frame. To that end, India and Pakistan must together prepare a plan for the demilitarization of the State with safeguards for security worked out together. Peace in the region would benefit not only those who are directly impacted by this conflict- Kashmiris - but India as well. Sounder minds must prevail. More rational methods of dealing with differences must be sought. Repeating the same mistakes while expecting different results has long ago been found to be the path of failure. Seventy years should demonstrate a need for a change in policy, a policy that acknowledges the need for coming together in a process that accepts the right of all people to determine their own destiny. The people of Kashmir, like most people, are by their nature peaceful. History testifies to that fact. They do not seek war, and do not want to see their children die in a bloody conflict. They seek and would welcome a peaceful and negotiated settlement to the crisis for the sake of peace and stability in the region of South Asia.

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India and its colonial and antidemocratic ways in Kashmir

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai This is an opportunity to explore a vexing but significant topic in the field of human rights: the Right of Self-determination. The right of self-determination has been celebrated for ages. It is a basic principle of the United Nation Charter which has been reaffirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and applied countless times to the settlement of international disputes. The concept played a significant part in the post-world war I settlement, leading for example to plebiscite in a number of disputed border areas, even though no reference was made to self-determination in the League of Nations Covenant. In 1945 the establishment of the United Nations gave a new dimension to the principle of self-determination. It was made one of the objectives which the UN would seek to achieve, along with equal rights of all nations. The principle of self-determination and the maintenance of international peace and security are inseparable. For example, the denial of this right to self-determination to the people of Kashmir has brought two neighboring countries in South Asia – India and Pakistan – to the brink of nuclear catastrophe. Although, the applicability of the principle of the 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. Since, on the establishment of India and Pakistan as sovereign states, Jammu and Kashmir was not part of the territory of either, the two countries entered into an agreement to allow its people to exercise their right of self-determination under impartial auspices and in conditions free from coercion from either side. The idea that the dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir can be settled only in accordance with the will of the people, which can be ascertained through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite, was the common ground taken by both Pakistan and India. It was supported without any dissent by the United Nations Security Council and prominently championed by the United States, Britain and other democratic states. It became a matter of controversy only after India realized that she could not win the people’s vote. It seems to me that when everything is considered, the case for Kashmiri self-determination is overwhelming if historical practice and simple justice are consulted. What is anguishing and dumbfounding to me is not that the world powers resist sending troops to Kashmir to vindicate self-determination at the risk of warring with India. After all, nations are not agents of altruism. What is frustrating and confounding is that world powers withhold even the moral boost of officially proclaiming the right of self-determination for 22 million Kashmiris in accord with Security Council plebiscite resolutions it heartily approved and have never disavowed. Professor Korbel proved prophetic. India’s insolence has provoked more than 70 years of horrifying conflict in Kashmir, war between India and Pakistan, a nuclear arms and missile race in South Asia, and human rights violations on a scale vastly more gruesome than witnessed by CNN broadcasting in Kosovo, and East Timor, all of which triggered international intervention. In the last twenty-nine years alone, approximately 700,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces with impunity have perpetrated more than 100,000 killings, coupled with countless incidents of torture, rape, custodial disappearances, arson, plunder, abduction, arbitrary detentions, and savage repression of peaceful political protest and freedom of expression. India always persisted in its colonial and antidemocratic ways in Kashmir. British historian, Bertrand Russell said in 1964, “The high idealism of the Indian government in international matters breaks down completely when confronted with the question of Kashmir.” Jay Prakash Narayan who was known as ‘The Second Gandhi of India’ confided to Indira Gandhi, in 1960: “We profess democracy but rule by force in Kashmir” He added that [The Kashmir] problem exists not because Pakistan wants to grab Kashmir, but because there is deep and widespread political discontent among the people.” Dr. Shri Prakash, an Indian writer & scholar in his book, ‘Twenty Tumultuous Years Insights in to Indian Polity’ on page 568 writes, “The Kashmiri anger actually began with the mass rigging of elections in 1987. There is no use putting life in a corpse. Kashmiri leaders from Farooq Abdullah downwards have lost their credibility , they are totally irrelevant.” We know it now that the fraudulent elections in 1987 extinguished the last flicker of hope among Kashmiris that India would bow to a free and fair plebiscite as ordained by the Security Council. The cure for counterfeit elections in Kashmir, however, is not more of the same, but providing the genuine democratic article. Thus, the people of Kashmir are eager to participate in the impending elections if they are conducted with the trapping of free and fair choice, conducted, monitored and supervised by a neutral agency like the United Nations. The status of East Timor was resolved in 1999 by a free and fair vote of the East Timorese. The same, championed by the United States and the European Union happened in Kosovo, Montenegro and Southern Sudan. The solution of Kashmir’s indigenous upheaval is no different. The irresponsible coveting of dignity, liberty and pride that comes with self-determination knows no territorial or regional or religious boundaries. The world powers should take a leaf from the statement made on June 15, 1962 by American representative to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson ” … The best approach is to take for a point of departure the area of common ground which exists between the parties. I refer of course to the resolutions which were accepted by both parties and which in essence provide for demilitarization of the territory and a plebiscite whereby the population may freely decide the future status of Jammu and Kashmir.” Taking into consideration the above facts, I propose: The demilitarization of the State of Jammu & Kashmir on either side of the Cease-fire Line; Creating an atmosphere of peace and security; iii. Conducting of an election by an international and neutral agency, i.e., the United Nations; Mandating that the elected officials will negotiate a final settlement of the Kashmir conflict with India and Pakistan; Satisfying the democratic principles, the rule of law, and security for every inhabitant of Kashmir, irrespective of their religious and regional affiliations in reaching to any solution. In conclusion, a sincere and serious effort towards a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute must squarely deal with the realities of the situation and fully respond to the people’s rights involved in it. Indeed, any process that ignores the wishes of the people of Kashmir and is designed to sidetrack the United Nations will not only prove to be an exercise in futility but can also cause incalculable human and political damage.

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