The arbitrary use of force against unarmed civilians in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian security forces is a perfect case of violation of international humanitarian laws as under the Fourth Geneva Convention the acts of Indian forces are tantamount to war crimes, said Ahmer Bilal Soofi, chairperson, United Nations Human Rights Expert Advisory Committee.
Speaking at a seminar titled “Developments in Kashmir: Dynamics and the Way Forward” organised by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad, on Tuesday, Soofi pointed out that this was an era of ‘law-fare’ in which international law is used as a tool to meet your strategic objectives and promote national narratives.
He lamented that Pakistan lags behind in the legal field to fight the case of Kashmir and other disputed territories like Junagadh and Manawadar effectively at the concerned international forms.
“Under all definitions of international law, India is an occupying force in Kashmir, which can neither make any demographic changes in the territory nor allow any third party to acquire land in the region,” he said while referring to the Amarnath Trust land transfer dispute which triggered the revival of the freedom movement in Kashmir in the recent years.
This aspect is also governed in the constitution of India, through its Article 370, which does not allow the Indian occupation to carry out such an action, due to the special status it gives to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, he pointed out, adding that it is the constitution and law of the adversary which makes your case.
Referring to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the arbitrary use of force against unarmed civilians, especially the use of pellet guns, he stated, it is not just an issue of human rights violation, rather an issue of the violation of international humanitarian law as under the Fourth Geneva Convention the acts of Indian forces in Kashmir are tantamount to war crimes.
He urged the Kashmir leadership and the government of Pakistan to fight the case of Kashmir at the international forums on the basis of legal arguments.
He was of the view that the space Pakistan achieved in the early years on this issue was due to the legal narrative presented in the UN by its foreign minister Sir Zafrullah Khan.
“For us, Kashmir is an emotional issue, but more than that it is essentially a legal issue,” he observed. Elaborating his argument, he further stated that it was unique in the case of Kashmir that the movement for the right to self-determination was coinciding with a territorial dispute, which makes the legal case stronger.
He also lamented that in the international academic arena the legal research and narratives on Kashmir issue were influenced by Indian perspective and in the current scenario there was, what he called, a shocking omission of legal work on Kashmir on the part of Pakistan. He called upon the government of Pakistan to fund ‘chairs’ on Kashmir in leading international law schools.
To a question, he stated that India cannot reject the argument of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory, adding that numerous UN Security Council resolutions were evident of the fact and the Shimla Accord of 1972 cannot affect the importance of the UNSC resolutions.
The seminar, chaired by former ambassador Ayaz Wazir, was also addressed by Ghulam Mohammad Safi, convener, Tehreek-e-Huriyyat, Kashmir and representative of Syed Ali Geelani, Dr Mohammad Khan, professor of international relations, Khalid Rahman, director general, IPS, and Awais-bin-Wasi, expert of Kashmir affairs. The speakers urged the world community to take notice of the recent and continuous violations of international humanitarian law by Indian forces in Kashmir.
They underscored the need for increased meaningful advocacy efforts for the cause of Kashmir in the international arena and criticised India for misguiding the world through what they described as ‘political fraud’, to believe that Kashmir was either an ‘integral part of India’ or a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan.
Dr Mohammad Khan, in his presentation, underscored the critical role of media to sensitize the society and the world about the Indian security forces’ brutalities against the innocent Kashmiri people. DG IPS, Khalid Rehman offered the services of the think tank to constitute a legal team to pursue the legal aspects of the issue of Kashmir on international forums. -Business Recorder