The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) organized a seminar on July 31, 2018 entitled “UN Report: The International Community Awakens to Human Rights Violations in IoK”. Sardar Masood Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir was the Keynote Speaker at the event. Other speakers included: Mr. Riaz Khokhar, Ambassador and former Foreign Secretary, Mr. Imtiaz Ahmed, Additional Secretary Asia Pacific at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Ahmed Qureshi, Executive Director, YFK-International Kashmir Lobby Group.
Welcoming the speakers and guests to the seminar, Ambassador (R) Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General, ISSI, introduced the recent UN report on the situation of human rights violations in Kashmir. He highlighted that the Kashmir cause is central to Pakistan’s foreign policy, and that the people of Pakistan and Kashmir remain connected to each other “through lasting bonds of history, culture, and faith”, asserting that “what ails Kashmiris hurts Pakistanis and vice versa”. Ambassador Chaudhry noted that the people of Kashmir have been fighting for their right to self-determination to guide their destiny for seven decades, and despite countless conferences, seminars, and resolutions, India has refused to listen to voices of reason and the voices of the international community. Instead, India continues to subjugate by force, forgetting that freedom-loving people cannot be suppressed forever. Quoting the American President Abraham Lincoln, he said that “those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” Ambassador Chaudhry said that the blatant use of force by India has failed to weaken the resolve of the people of Kashmir, who have for generations been struggling for their rights. Discussing the report, he noted that since 2016, the struggles have represented more people, as younger and middle class and female protestors had come to the fore, and the last few years have been particularly harsh. Despite this grave situation, he lamented that the international community has for long been unable to take note of the brutalities in Kashmir, so that India has gotten away with its high-handed approach. Now, however, the international community is belatedly waking up, and this report is a reminder that the circumstances in Kashmir are grim. Ambassador Chaudhry hoped that this seminar resonates the voices that stand up for the people of Kashmir and exposes the human rights abuses that they face.