Project Completion Report
SECTION A: Project report and reflection
1. Project description:
Institute of Dialogue, Development and Diplomatic Studies (IDDS) is dedicated to facilitate closer interaction among key stake holders on Kashmir for a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the issue in accordance with UN resolutions which provides concrete legal base of the Kashmir conflict. IDDS drive to highlight Kashmir Issue from 10 Dec-14 Dec 2018 concluded on Saturday2018.
Concerned by the continued human rights violations in held Kashmir, IDDS invited Kashmiri diaspora leadership, lobbyists and academia to apprise top government officials, political leadership and intelligentsia in Pakistan about their work abroad and the challenges they confront with to win support on the issue. The delegation was headed by Prof.Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed Khan, associated with George Washington University, USA. He also recently returned from Srinagar after having detailed interaction with Syed Ali Gilani, Mir Waiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik including other leaders of resistance.
The delegation draws from UK, US, Canada and Qatar (Annexure 1)
2. Meeting objectives:
• To have a closer interaction with Kashmiri diaspora, lobbyists and academia to gather a broader idea of their work abroad and the challenges they grapple with, to obtain moral and diplomatic support on the issue.
• To forge closer communication channels between government of Pakistan and those working in different parts of the world for the promotion of Kashmir cause.
• To share a set of proposals with the target audience to take Kashmir movement forward and force on India to refrain from human rights violations in Kashmir
• To motivate youth in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir to play a more effective and dynamic role in the promotion of Kashmir cause
3. Key Engagements
During its week-long engagements, the delegation called on the top officials of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, state institutions and political parties, besides having detailed sessions with various think tanks, universities and media outlets. (Annexure 2)
4. Proposals for Consideration
The delegation shared a set of proposals with its counterparts for a candid and objective discussion on them to put Kashmir on the forefront. The proposals shared with on the occasion, included:
a) Human Rights
• Pakistan should review its earlier decision and provide access to UNHRC delegation to Azad Kashmir for investigation and reporting of human rights situation. Dismissal of the request by the commission for the same was a strategic mistake on the part of Pakistan as it served no purpose at all, except creating a negative impression about the situation here.
• Pakistan should take all out measures to project the recently released report of the UNHRC on Kashmir, which documents grass human rights violations in occupied Kashmir and impresses upon the world community to dispatch an Inquiry Commission to Indian occupied Kashmir for fact finding.
• Legal experts in Pakistan should look into the question of filing law suits against Indian officials and men in uniform for violation of human rights in Kashmir. It shall help Kashmir recapturing the spotlight in international area. Alongside Srinagar Bar Council, IMDDDS offers it services to proceed on the issue.
• It was suggested that IDDS and its partner organizations shall hold an international conference on human rights violations in Kashmir at Istanbul, Turkey. Besides other issues, the conference would also explore the possibilities of developing closer relations with relatively ignored African and Latin American countries to support Pakistani stance at different UN and other forums on violation of human rights by the Indian forces in occupied Kashmir
b) Religious Diplomacy
• Pakistan should not hesitate to look into the possibility of a tightly regulated opening of Sharda in Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir, to allow the Hindus on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC) and India to visit their holy places in the area. Home to Sharda Devi, the area is among the holiest places to Hindus the world over and opening of it would create immense pressure, as happened in the case of Kartarpura, on the India government to review its policy vis-à-vis Pakistan and Kashmir. Added to it, it will debar India from unprovoked firing across the LoC in Neelum Valley however it has security sensitivities which are needed to be taken cautiously.
c) PSL & Kashmir
• As psychological warfare, Pakistan should immediately include Azad Kashmir cricket team in the PSL list. It shall have a tremendous psychological boost to the people of Kashmir engaged in a heroic struggle against Indian forces.
d) Pakistan, without any fanfare, should hire a reputable PR firm to highlight Indian atrocities in Kashmir in the world, besides winning over the support of human rights bodies and media. Currently, Indian stance on Kashmir pervades all information sources, and hence needs to be rebutted with full force and professionalism.
e) Kashmir Chairs
• Pakistan should appoint the vacancies of the chairs which are vacant ans shall establish Kashmir Chairs at renowned universities in the world, especially in Europe, America and Africa. Currently, Indian viewpoint rules the roosts on all available outlets, including internet and libraries at world educational institutes.
5. Recommendations for most urgent action
• Pakistan should go all out to garner the support of Muslim and Scandinavian countries in particular to initiate a meaningful debate on the recently released UN report on Kashmir in the forthcoming session of Human Rights Council, to be held in Geneva in March 2019. It can provide a good opportunity to Pakistan to impress upon the world community to send an inquiry commission, as recommended by the UNHRC, to ascertain the ground realities in the held Kashmir.
• Pakistan should take Kashmiri leadership and diaspora on board to develop concrete proposals for submission to the OIC Foreign Minister’s Conference and OIC Summit, to be held in UAE and Gambia in 2019.
6. Outcome of the visit
• Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi agreed to look into the proposals and invited IDDS to work in close coordination with his Office to make inroads on the Kashmir issue.
• He also agreed to extend full support to IDDS to hold an international conference on Kashmir issue at Turkey and put Kashmir in lime light for meaningful talks on the issue.
• Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shereen Mazari agreed to the proposal of inviting UNHRC to Azad Kashmir and inspect and report the state of human rights here, freely. She underlined that Pakistan had nothing to hide in the area and the visit would provide a moral high ground on India, disinclined to any such possibility.
• Think Tanks visited agreed to focus themselves on developing forward looking strategies on the Kashmir issue under prevailing circumstances.
• Political leadership visited also pledged to raise the issue of human rights violations in Kashmir at every forum in Pakistan and force the government not to show any sign of complacency or indifference on the issue.
6. Anti-Pakistan propaganda in AJ&K
• The delegation also noted it with deep concern that anti-Pakistan propaganda is badly affecting the young generation, especially engaged in higher education, in Azad Kashmir and is bound to create serious issues in the days ahead, if not taken head on.
7. What Next?
• In collaboration with its partner organizations, IDDDS plans to hold a brain storming session with key stakeholders and intelligentsia in Qatar, preferably in February next year, to hammer out a plan to market the UNHRC’s report on Kashmir. IDDDS believes that the report of the commission is a rare opportunity for Pakistan and Kashmiris themselves to expose human rights violations by India in the held state.
• IDDDS also plans to hold an international Kashmir conference in Istanbul, Turkey, to engage all stake holders and renowned world human rights activists to expose Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir.
• IDDDS has decided to engage university level students and journalists in Azad Kashmir to cement their ideological bond with Pakistan. It shall engage in them in productive discourse on key issues from nationalistic perspective and create a new narrative to dispel anti-Pakistan propaganda by vested elements.