Kashmir dispute’s settlement ‘indispensable’ for South Asian peace: OIC

The OIC Contact Group on Kashmir on Wednesday reaffirmed its support to the Kashmiri people’s “just” struggle for their right to self-determination, while emphasizing that a settlement of the Kashmir dispute under UN resolutions was “indispensable” for durable peace in South Asia.

The meeting, in which Foreign ministers and senior officials of Pakistan, Turkiye, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan and Niger took part, was presided over by OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha.

At the outset, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani apprised members of the Contact Group about the grave situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K), saying that New Delhi’s continued oppressive measures in the disputed territory had exacerbated the already dire humanitarian conditions for the people.

“The current Indian leadership is bent upon perpetuating India’s occupation of Jammu & Kashmir,” Jilani told the Contact Group which met at a high-level on the sidelines of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly.

“The Indian authorities are brutally crushing the quest of Kashmiri people for their fundamental rights, especially the right to self-determination, as enshrined in the relevant UN and OIC Resolutions.”

A joint communique issued after the meeting called for reversing all illegal and unilateral measures taken on or after 5 August 2019, stop the gross, systematic and widespread human rights abuses in the IIOJK, halt and reverse the illegal demographic changes in the occupied territory, allow unrestricted access to UN Special procedures, international media and independent observers to visit IIOJK, and take concrete and meaningful steps for the full implementation of UNSC resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.

The communique expressed serious concern over the statements by the Indian political leaders as well as senior military officers about their readiness to attack Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, calling such statements a serious threat to regional peace and stability, and noting that these statements are in violation of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter.

The Communique also:

— Expressed concern over the seizure of the office of the All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) in Srinagar and condemned the ongoing campaign to confiscate the properties of Kashmiri activists;

— Denounced the Indian authorities’ fresh plea seeking death penalty for one of the renowned Kashmiri leaders, Yaseen Malik, who is incarcerated and has already been awarded life imprisonment; and mandated the Special Envoy on Jammu and Kashmir to take appropriate steps to raise voice against the possible award of death penalty to Malik;

— Reiterated the call on the international community to hold India accountable for the egregious human rights violations being committed by the Indian forces in the IIOJK;

— Expressed deep concern over the persistent curbs on the fundamental rights and freedoms, including the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, in IIOJK;

— Rejects the conduct of the G-20 Tourism Working Group Meeting, held in Srinagar on 22-24 May 2023, which aimed to legitimize India’s illegal occupation of the IIOJK and sought to project a facade of normalcy in the occupied territory;

— Appreciated the countries, which decided to dissociate themselves from the G-20 Tourism Working Group Meeting in Srinagar, and,

— Condemned the campaign to seize the properties of Kashmiri activists in an attempt to punish them for their political views.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga