OIC calls for prompt resolution of Kashmir dispute

September 30, 2009

UNITED NATIONS (APP)- A ministerial-level panel of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on Monday adopted a declaration expressing regret that India had put a “pause” on the dialogue with Pakistan and called for the prompt resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

The OIC Contact Group, which met on the sidelines of the 64th session of UN General Assembly on Monday, welcomed the July meeting between prime ministers of India and Pakistan in Sharm el-Sheikh, saying that dialogue between the two neighbors was the only way forward. 
In this regard, the declaration took note of India’s statement after the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting that it was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including Jammu and Kashmir.
The declaration, which was unanimously adopted, called for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute “in accordance with UN resolutions and as agreed upon in the 1972 Simla Agreement”. The Contact Group met under the chairmanship of OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu for an annual review of the development relating to the decades-old dispute Kashmir dispute. Opening the meeting, the OIC secretary-General expressed the organization’s solidarity with the Kashmiri people and hoped that the peace process between India and Pakistan would resume soon and become result-oriented.
Attending the meeting, held in a UN conference room, were Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu and ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and Niger, representing their respective foreign ministers. The Pakistan delegation was led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who underscored the imperative of a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue to amicably resolve the Kashmir dispute. “We believe that a settlement of this long festering dispute can help establish durable peace in the region,” he said in a speech before the adoption of the declaration. “It can also open numerous vistas of mutually beneficial cooperation between Pakistan and India”.
Representatives of the Kashmiri people, from both the Indian-Occupied Kashmir and Azad Kashmir—APHC Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan, respectively, also participated in the meeting. In addition, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director of the Kashmiri-American Council, was present.
Recalling previous OIC and relevant UN resolutions, the Contact Group urged India and Pakistan to “expeditiously resolve all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.” The declaration referred to the murder in May of two Kashmiri women in Shopian and condemned all human rights violations being committed against the people of Kashmir. It called on India to put an end to the suffering of Kashmiri people by repealing the “draconian laws” imposed in Kashmir.
The declaration also urged the international community to take “effective steps” for safeguarding the rights of Kashmiri people, including the right to self-determination. It asked India to allow an OIC fact-finding mission in Indian-occupied Kashmir, and to cooperate with Pakistan, the UN and the international community and to accept the strengthening of UNMOGIP, the UN observer force monitoring the Line of Control in the disputed state. 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. Addressing the Contact Group, the Pakistan foreign minister said even after the passage of sixty years, the Kashmiri people  continue to demand their basic right to self-determination promised to them by the international community. “For years, Pakistan, OIC, and the international community, have expressed concern on the consistent violation of human rights of the Kashmiri people,” Qureshi said. “Unfortunately, the Indian security forces have shown little regard for these expressions of concern. 
The violations which are a direct result of massive presence of Indian security forces in Indian occupied Kashmir, continue”. Last year’s indigenous uprising ignited by the Amarnath Shrine land issue had added another sad chapter to the sufferings of the Kashmiri people, the Pakistani foreign minister said. “The Kashmiris were subjected to prolonged economic blockade. Their lives and properties were attacked. Many Kashmiris were martyred including Sheikh Abdul Aziz, a prominent Hurriyat leader. “These events are a reflection of the indigenous struggle of the Kashmiri people for “Azadi”.”  The Government and the people of Pakistan, he said, have stood by their Kashmiri brethren. “As in the past, we condemn the use of force and demand respect for human rights of the people of Kashmir”. Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, reaffirmed his country’s support for the Kashmiri people’s struggle and expressed solidarity with them. He urged the international community to help bring about a lasting settlement of the Kashmir dispute. The minister also called for improvement in the human rights conditions of the Kashmiri people and an end to their sufferings.
Ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and Niger also voiced solidarity with the Kashmiri people and called for steps to bring about a durable settlement of the Kashmir dispute. Mirwaiz Farooq gave an extensive background to the Kashmir dispute and enumerated in detail the atrocities committed by Indian security forces, saying more than 100,000 innocent civilians have been killed in the past 20 years. In resolving the Kashmir issue, he said time was of essence and would require a continuation of Kashmiri representation in a more desirable tripartite format. “Kashmiri involvement in the talks can and will be the key to finding a lasting solution of the dispute”.
The APHC chairman called for the demilitarization of the state as the first step towards reducing Indian and Pakistani forces; allowing Kashmiris to freely express their views; release of all political prisoners; repealing of draconian laws; withdrawal of troops from urban areas and city centers; dismantling bunkers, and allowing Kashmiri political leaders to travel abroad. “Our endeavor to resolve the Kashmir issue is not just a quest for peace for the people, we cannot overlook that South Asia is a region that is expanding, growing and becoming more and more a major player and competitor in international markets,” Farooq said. “While we are not opposed to India’s unprecedented growth, we want India to allow Kashmir to grow and prosper as well.” Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan also made a strong case for the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination. 
“The international community, particularly OIC countries, must impress on India to immediately repeal its repressive laws and put an end to the gross human rights violations against the innocent Kashmiris.” “We have shown the required resolve and steadfastness in the course of our struggle. It is our belief that the sufferings and enormous sacrifices made by the Kashmiri people will be ultimately rewarded.”