GENEVA/ISLAMABAD—A chance encounter between a Kashmir lobbyist, Ahmed Quraishi and the United States Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Keith Harper at Geneva turned into an opportunity to draw American policymakers’ attention to the Indian role in Kashmir, and especially India’s refusal to cooperate with UN Human Rights officials wanting to investigate abuses in the disputed region.
“This was a chance encounter in the corridors of the UN building in Geneva,” said Ahmed Quraishi, a Kashmir activist volunteering with a nongovernmental Kashmiri delegation at the Palais des Nations, the UN headquarters in Geneva.
A Kashmir Delegation is attending the 29th session of the Human Rights Council, currently in session. Quraishi is the Executive Director of Youth Forum for Kashmir, or YFK, a youth-driven pro-Kashmir international lobbying group.
Ambassador Keith Harper is the US Representative to the UN in Geneva. Harper finished chairing a side event on Tibet, where he specifically mentioned he did not want the event to turn into “China-bashing.” He called on Beijing to allow UN rights observers into Tibet, which is Chinese territory.
Walking briefly together to the Council, Quraishi suggested that the US government should take note of India’s noncooperation with the UN in Kashmir, which is not even Indian territory.
“I told Ambassador Harper that he should look at Kashmir too, which is not that far away on the map from Tibet,” said Quraishi.
In fact, Quraishi said, the Indian behavior with the UN in this regard is far more disturbing.
“India has a consistent record of media censorship on Kashmir, obstructing the work of both Indian and international media, not to mention a record of deliberate and rude behavior with United Nations officials who try to visit the disputed region or are based there as part of UN military mission,” said Quraishi, who briefed Ambassador Harper about these points.
Quraishi told the US ambassador that India stopped several UN Human Rights Council officials from visiting Kashmir to investigate complaints of rights abuses.
Said Quraishi: “Mr. Harper showed interest in this particular point. He suggested a number of steps that Kashmir activists can take, and I intend to follow up on those steps, and I thank the Ambassador for his interest.”
The Kashmir Delegation to the 29th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Geneva consists of Altaf Hussain Wani Delegation leader and senior APHC leader, Sardar Amjad Yousaf Executive Director Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR), Mrs. Shamim Shawl senior APHC women leader, senior APHC leaders Syed Faiz Naqshbandi and Ishtiyaq Hameed, Ahmed Quraishi Executive Director Youth Forum For Kashmir (YFK) and Shagufta Ashraf Assistant Lecturer AJK University.
YFK is Pakistan’s first pro-Kashmir, registered and nonpartisan International lobbying group led by young Kashmiris and Pakistanis working to ensure justice to Kashmiris living under Indian-military occupation.