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Saturday, 9 April 2016

JKLF Diplomatic Bureau meeting with British Foreign Office

Rt. Honourable Mr Philip Hammond
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
C/OP the Foreign & Commonwealth Office South Asian Department.
King Charles Street London SW1A 2AH

7 April 2016

Dear Secretary of State,

Sub- The right of 20 million Kashmiris to freedom, democracy and reunification of their forcibly divided country.

During your recent visit to Pakistan, and contrary to decades old British policy on the unresolved Jammu Kashmir issue, you advised Pakistan Government, not to include the question of Kashmir’s future status as part of its dialogue with India.

Secretary of State, we find your advice unprecedented and inconsistent, especially since the United Kingdom is far more cognisant and privy to the historic context of the conflict over Kashmir, and has traditionally recognised its resolution as being central for lasting peace in South Asia.

The advice therefore has been received as a great disappointment within the million strong British Kashmiri diaspora, as well as a cause of serious concern across both sides of the Line of Control-LoC- that divides Kashmir, and forcibly separates its 20 million people between India and Pakistan.
Kashmiri leadership in particular, has interpreted this advice as a reversal of British policy due to the UK’s changed priorities in South Asia. Kashmiris have always expected Britain to support their legitimate, just and internationally recognised rights and aspirations as part of a process towards a peaceful resolution of the issue.

Especially as in our considered view, Britain has a key role in persuading India and Pakistan, to seek a solution of the issue, by recognising and accommodating, the locus standai in the conflict, of 20 million Kashmiris as the arbiters over Jammu Kashmir’s reunification and political status.

It is not only unfortunate but lamentable that India of today, contrary to its commitments before the international community and to the people of Jammu Kashmir, does not even recognise the existence of Kashmir issue or Kashmiri dimension- a dimension- that encompasses aspirations and fundamental rights that have yet to be exercised over the political status of forcibly divided Jammu Kashmir.

What must also be questioned and seriously addressed is the huge military deployment of forces by both India and Pakistan in the territory from north to south, where both armies aggressively confront each other eye-ball to eye-ball across the LoC.

Secretary of State this 700 mile long LoC which, as far as the basic right of movement is concerned does not and should not apply to inhabitants on either side of the forced divide within International law and UN resolutions, is nevertheless a living hell for tens of thousands of Kashmiris who reside alongside it.

During frequent flare ups between both armies along the length of the LoC hundreds of villages are caught in the cross fire as both armies are deployed either in or close to the populated areas.

Equally Indian military and paramilitary forces are heavily deployed in the rural and urban areas of Indian occupied parts of Jammu Kashmir. This Indian military presence is extremely intimidating and disruptive of the daily lives of ordinary people- many are killed daily with no provocation against the military.

Indian army operates under cover of laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act-AFSPA- that give the Indian forces in Jammu Kashmir, the impunity and immunity to perpetrate acts of violence on a daily basis against civilians that result in deaths of innocent men, women, young and old alike. Many of the basic rights of Kashmiri people are violated daily by this blanket cover of immunity that the Indian military apparatus has enjoyed in Indian held Jammu Kashmir over the past 28 years. Over a hundred thousand have been killed by the Indian military and paramilitary forces, around 8,000 are missing while over 7,000 unmarked graves are found throughout Indian held Jammu Kashmir. Women’s dignity is violated including rapes.

Pro freedom and reunification leadership in Indian held Jammu Kashmir is being denied its basic right of movement, assembly and of free speech. In a country that boasts of being the largest democracy in the world, this denial is a travesty of these fundamental rights when peaceful assembly and movement of legitimate leaders is not allowed to take place.

Over the past one year alone for example, Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front- JKLF- Mr Muhammad Yasin Malik, has been denied right to assembly and free speech dozens of times. He has been prevented from engagement with people on many occasions through arrests, police and judicial custody and all too often put under house arrests. Mr Malik is also denied the right to a passport. As a result he is unable to visit and see his wife and child who reside in Pakistan.

Secretary of State, on both sides of the LoC, political parties that seek independence of Jammu Kashmir, are denied the right to participate in the political process, as candidates are required to declare their allegiance to India and Pakistan respectively. This is not only an undemocratic condition imposed on the candidates but also a denial of fundamental right to choice. As a result millions of people in both Azad Jammu Kashmir -AJK- and in Indian held Jammu Kashmir are disenfranchised by this undemocratic condition.

We would also like to draw your attention to the issue of Gilgit Baltistan which, the previous Peoples Party Government declared as a de-facto province of Pakistan and the current government of Mr Nawaz Sharif attempted to constitutionally formalise it as such. The process was halted due to concerted opposition from the public and the Kashmiri leadership across both sides of the LoC.
The move on the part of Pakistan government also contravened the spirit of UN Security Council-UNSC- resolution 122 of 24 January 1957 which, the UK supported and which stated “that an attempt to change the status of Jammu Kashmir or any part of the state would not constitute a disposition of the state.”

This particular resolution was passed by the UNSC to repudiate the National Conference Government in Indian held Jammu Kashmir which wished to ‘ratify’- in contravention of a plethora of previous UN resolutions and recommendations, the conditional ‘accession’ of Jammu Kashmir to India in 1947 by Maharaja Hari Singh.

We would therefore expect that the UK extends its advice to government Pakistan, not to proceed with the intention of incorporating Gilgit Baltistan as part of Pakistan federation. Furthermore we expect that the UK would encourage Pakistan Government to reunite Gilgit Baltistan region with AJK, to constitute a single territorial constitutional entity of Jammu Kashmir territories that are being administered by Pakistan since 1947.

Secretary of State the UK has a friendly and historic relationship with India and Pakistan and as such we would expect the UK government to extend strong and effective friendly advice to both countries, that they seriously address the question of Jammu Kashmir’s future political status with a purposeful and meaningful approach and actively involve the Kashmiris with their participation in the process under the UN’s auspices.

Secretary of State as a permanent member of the UNSC, Britain has a legal as well as a moral obligation, to ensure that all peaceful political processes are harnessed so that 20 million forcibly divided people of Jammu Kashmir have the opportunity to exercise their basic democratic right over the future political status of Jammu Kashmir.
With Regards

Prof Zafar Khan
Chairman Diplomatic Bureau
Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF
London Secretariat
119-123 Cannon Street Road
E1 2LX


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