At UN, speakers highlight unresolved Kashmir & Palestine issues at Pak-sponsored event

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UNITED NATIONS, Feb 07 : Senior diplomats and experts from a range of countries Tuesday called for advancing the principle of the right of self-determination to resolve key global issues, including Kashmir and Palestine, at a well-attended event held at UN Headquarters in New York. Sponsored by Pakistan, the discussion took place on “Challenges to the realization of the Right to Self-Determination in the Contemporary Global Context, that coincided with Kashmir Solidarity Day.

Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram presided over the meeting in which the panelists were: Ms. Fionnuala NiAolain, a professor at the University of Minnesota and former UN rights expert; Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, permanent observer of the Arab League at the UN: Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Chairman of the World Forum for Peace and Justice, and Hameed Ajibaiye, permanent observer for OIC at the UN. After the presentations from the panelists, ambassadors and representatives of Algeria, Turkey, Morocco, Syria, Iran and India participated in the general discussion in which they also raised issues of concern to them. In his opening remarks, Ambassador Akram highlighted the long-running Kashmir and Palestine conflicts, warning that these unresolved issues posed a threat to international peace and security. He said the right of self-determination was the “bedrock” of the modern international system, and the fundamental principle of the UN Charter. But, Ambassador Akram said there were still examples of where peoples continue to be denied the right of self determination. “I would focus on the fact that we face two situations at least, where the right of self-determination is being flagrantly denied: “One is Palestine and the second is Jammu and Kashmir in the past four months have illustrated the consequences of the suppression of the right of self-determination to the Palestinian people – 27,000 have been killed, mostly women and children.” Despite ICJ ruling and the decisions of the General Assembly, the near unanimity in the Security Council and the support of the international community in public opinion the acceptance of a ceasefire still eludes the international community. The Pakistani envoy denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for summarily rejecting the two state solution to resolve the Middle East crisis and even agreeing to a halt what has been called the plausible genocide campaign in Gaza. “We admire South Africa’s reference to the ICJ and we commend Algeria’s initiative in the Security Council to get a ceasefire.” Regardless of whether or not these were endorsed by the Security Council, he said, under the Charter, they are binding to secure a two-state solution. Likewise, Ambassador Akram said the denial of self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir also deserves the full attention of the international community, pointing out that massive violations of human rights were taking place there. “And the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan is an ever-present threat to international peace and security,” he added. The Pakistani envoy warned that the threat of a conflict which has happened in the past, could happen again. “A conflict between two nuclear-armed states is a sobering thought or should be a sobering thought for the international community.” On Monday, he said, the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the people of Pakistan observed the Kashmir Solidarity Day, pointing out that on 5 Feb, 1989, 100 peaceful Kashmiri demonstrators were killed by Indian occupation forces. “This is recorded in two reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued in 2017 and 2018. The Kashmir tragedy, he said, has intensified after the unilateral measures taken on August 5, 2019 that ended the statehood of Kashmir with India using brutal measures to clamp down on the unrest in besieged Kashmir. “With regard to both the situations in Palestine and Kashmir, and I suspect elsewhere, where peoples are oppressed and occupied, a lesson of history has been that colonial power has never succeeded in suppressing the right of self-determination of a people who are determined to sacrifice all for their freedom and liberation from foreign occupation.” Reacting to the statement of Indian delegate Suman Sonkar, Ambassador Akram said her comments were out the framework of the discussion while rejecting her allegations. He also pointed out the “communality” of India’s position with that of Israel– both countries denying the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir and Palestine, respectively. Dr. Fai, who hails from Indian-occupied Kashmir, called the Indian delegate’s remarks irrelevant and misleading. What is relevant are the UN Security Council resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ statement of Aug. 8, 2019, he said. The UN chief then said, “The position of the United Nations on this region (Jammu and Kashmir) is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions.”