Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council (32 Session) on an issue close to his heart
General Debate: Item-4 on behalf of ECOSOC-status NGO: CIRAC
We have grave concerns about the security and human rights situation in Pakistan, particularly the so-called Azad Kashmir and Giligt Baltistan.
Pakistani held Kashmir is a land of strict curbs on political pluralism, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. We find there a muzzled press, banned books, arbitrary arrest, detention and torture at the hands of the Pakistan military and police. Discrimination against refugees from Jammu and Kashmir state is rampant. Kashmiri nationalists who do not support Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan are singled out. Anyone who wants to take part in public life has to sign a pledge of loyalty to Pakistan, while anyone who publicly supports or works for an independent Kashmir is persecuted.
Islamabad is using the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and military courts against secular, progressive, nationalist political workers, civil society activists and human rights defenders who are struggling for their basic human rights. In Gilgit Baltistan, the peaceful human rights defender Baba Jan and other activists were sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment by an Anti-Terrorist Court (ATC).
We urge the HRC to take serious note of these medieval practices and other human rights violations and put pressure on Pakistan for the immediate and unconditional release of all political workers, including Baba Jan and his colleagues.
Pakistan is involved in plundering the region’s natural resources. Islamabad is constructing mega dams as part of the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, which runs across our region before it enters Pakistan. Mega projects in the disputed territory of Kashmir are a clear violation of international laws and UNCIP resolutions on Kashmir.
In 2013, the renowned Kashmiri nationalist leader and chairman of the All Parties National Alliance (APNA), Sardar Arif Shahid, was assassinated in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. We have raised this issue in the Council to put pressure on Pakistan to institute a judicial enquiry into this targeted killing but no action has been taken yet.
Mr Chairman, Pakistani Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan are overwhelmingly controlled by the so-called Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Kashmir Council from Islamabad, which enjoy supremacy in all administrative positions and have dominion over the socio-political structure and economy of both regions.’
Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri is an exiled Kashmiri leader from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Now based in Berne, Switzerland, he heads United Kashmir People’s National Party.