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Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Right to self Determination of 20 million people of Jammu Kashmir

The Right to self Determination of 20 million people of Jammu Kashmir.

Presented at the International Conference on Conflict Resolution through Self-determination:

Hosted by Parliamentarians for National Self Determination -PNSD – at the: House of Lords London:  Tuesday 26 April, 2016

Zafar Khan

Chairman I would like to extend my gratitude to the organisers of this important and timely conference, in the British Parliament on a fundamental principle of  human rights- the right of self-determination.

Denial of the right to self-determination leads to violation of all other collective and individual human rights. In the brief time that I have, I will address the concept of the right of self-determination in relation to the Kashmir issue, and the denial of this important right to 20 million people of Jammu Kashmir.

At the outset however, we must acknowledge that the biggest danger to peace in South Asia, is the unresolved issue over Jammu Kashmir’s future political status. Currently Jammu Kashmir-generally referred to as Kashmir- has a huge number of military presence on both sides of the Line of Control-LoC- that forcibly divides the territory and its 20 million inhabitants between India and Pakistan.

Kashmir however, is not a territorial dispute between the neighbours, nor is it a domestic law and order matter for India. It is an international issue that concerns the democratic right of 20 million people who must accorded the opportunity, to decide upon their political destiny, in accordance with their inherent, and inalienable right to self-determination.

Self-Determination as a Concept:
Chairman allow me to briefly, say a few words about the concept of self –determination: Historically the idea of self-determination can be traced to the American declaration of independence in 1776.

This simply meant that those who were governed must give their consent to be governed, and that people have the right to shape their own destiny. Subsequently the French Revolution reinforced this idea with the concept of popular sovereignty.

At the end of World War 1 US President Woodrow Wilson advocated the idea of self-determination in his 14 points, and thus the concept founds its way into the UN predecessor the League of Nations. The United Nations’ Charter in its article 1(2) reinforces the principle of justice, equal rights and self-determination.

However, significant and more emphatic developments in the articulation of the concept emerged with the UN’s Declaration on granting of independence to colonised people in the General Assembly-GA- resolution 1514 of December 1960.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-ICCPR- of Dec. 16- 1966 which was adopted in March 23- 1976, consolidated the process on the idea of self-determination as a fundamental, and an inalienable right, inherent with all, and especially  subjugated people throughout the world.

The International Covenant on Civil and political rights emphasises civil, political, economic and cultural rights of nations and peoples. Article 1 for example states that;

 “All people have right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status, and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”. *

India has not ratified article 1 of the ICCPR,  and  made  the  following  declaration to the effect  for exemption:
 “ With reference to article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Government of the Republic of India declares that the words `the right of self-determination' appearing in [this article] apply only to the peoples under foreign domination and that these words do not apply to sovereign independent States or to a section of a people or nation--which is the essence of national integrity.**

Chairman, with more than half a million regular soldiers, supported by tens of thousands of paramilitary forces deployed in Jammu Kashmir, one wonders what is India’s idea of ‘people under foreign domination’!

Kashmiris certainly feel dominated, and indeed subjugated by the Indian state, and have done so since 1947.

Indian forces of occupation over the past 28 years alone, have been responsible for around a hundred thousand deaths of Kashmiri people, over 8000 missing and with 7000 un-marked graves. The suffering and brutalities inflicted on, and endured by Kashmiris, at the hands of militarised Indian state apparatus is nothing other than the actions of a colonial power subjugating a colonised people by sheer force.

Kashmiris have not given their consent to the Indian state to rule over them. If ever there was consent it was conditional, and the India State   has not fulfilled its side of obligations in the temporary arrangements of 1947.

Furthermore the Indian army and para military forces, operate in Jammu Kashmir with impunity of action under cover of laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act –AFSPA-.

 If such militarised oppression against Kashmiris by the Indian State is not colonial in form and substance, then we can ask the question, what constitutes a colony and a colonial power?

Chairman India claims to be the largest democracy in the world, and demands a top seat at the United Nations as a permanent member of the UN Security Council-UNSC- . This is quite something coming from a UN member State which deliberately chooses to ignore around one dozen resolutions of the United Nations, specifically passed by the world body to determine the future status of Jammu Kashmir in accordance with the wishes of its people.

The UN resolutions call for a plebiscite to determine the future status of Jammu Kashmir. If this   is not self-determination one wonders what other definitions can be applied to the struggle of valiant Kashmiris who have risen up against the straight- jacket of the status quo in their forcibly divided country, at every opportunity since 1947.

As we know the genesis of Kashmir issue, at international level at least, begins with India taking the issue to the UNSC on 1 January 1948. As pointed out above, the UN passed more than a dozen resolutions since 1948 on the issue. It’s UN Military Observer Group on India and Pakistan-UNMOGIP- is operational in the territory, under resolution 47 of April 1948. (See Bowers 2004)

Solemn commitments were made and pledges were given by India, that were supported by major powers like the USA and the UK, to have the issue resolved in accordance with the, unfettered right of Kashmiris over the political status of their country.

Chairman, who can begrudge Kashmiris for feeling betrayed, at the indifference and abandonment of their inherent and inalienable fundamental human right- the right to national self-determination, a right that India and the major powers recognised and accepted.

India for example in one of its many solemn pledges on Kashmir declared:

“that the question of Kashmir’s future status vis-a-vis its neighbours and the world at large and the question on whether Kashmir should withdraw from her accession to India, and either accede to Pakistan or remain independent with a right to claim admission as a member of the United Nations all this we have recognised to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir after normal life is restored to them” UNSC document Agenda 227. ***

Unfortunately Chairman India has reneged on the above and all the other commitments, and quite blatantly chooses to ignore the existence of Kashmir issue, and considers it as a figment of Kashmiris’ imagination, or machinations by Pakistan against it.

India consistently prevaricates over its bilateral Shimla Accord of 1972 with Pakistan, which Kashmiris as a matter of fact do not recognise, and call upon the government of Pakistan to rescind the Shimla Accord forth with, as this bilateral agreement negates the Kashmiri dimension in the issue, and turns this legitimate international issue of self-determination of a subjugated nation, into a dispute between India and Pakistan.

Chairman we peacefully resist the oppression and indignities of Indian occupation, and assert our right to freedom and free Will, through political and democratic activism.

But as the world witnessed the killing of five innocent Kashmiris in Handwara and Kupwara over the last week, the Indian occupation forces are impervious to the world opinion, because they have the cover of laws to act with impunity.

 Indian military resorted to brute force when spontaneous outpouring of anger by residents erupted after an Indian soldier attempted to molest a 16 year old girl. The army in collusion with the local Police made every effort to harass the girl, and her family to force her to sign a statement, absolving the soldier of his heinous attempt to dishonour her.

While such heinous acts by the Indian military personnel are common, Kashmiris in Handwara and Kupwara have proved through their peaceful spontaneous reaction that they will no longer tolerate occupation and its excesses and indignities against the populace, and especially against the women of Jammu Kashmir.

Chairman in conclusion this is the backdrop within which the valiant people of Jammu Kashmir wage their peaceful struggle for the right to self-determination. A struggle whose leaders are frequently arrested to deprive them of their democratic right to engage with the public, and the right to free speech and free movement.

Both in Handwara, Kupwara and elsewhere in Kashmir, pro freedom leadership was arrested, including the arbitrary arrest and incarceration of JKLF Chairman Mr Muhammad Yasin Malik.

Essentially therefore the question over the future status of Kashmir is one that concerns the fundamental right of Kashmiris, to determine their political destiny, by exercising the sovereignty vested in them, on the political status of Jammu Kashmir, and its future disposition.

And this is the basis upon which Kashmir issue can be resolved. It is poignantly relevant to repeat here, what Mr Yasin Malik in a statement, only a few days ago, told the Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi that ‘all roads to peace and prosperity for India and South Asia went through Jammu Kashmir’.

Chairman until this vitally important fact is recognised in New Delhi, the suffering of 20 million Kashmiris will continue, and the threat to peace and prosperity in the region, will remain much too real. Thank you Chairman.


**1- ICCPR ratification details for India (Chapter1v.3.)
Bowers, P. (30 March 2004) Research paper 04/28 House of Commons Library British Parliament.
*** (Indian representative Gopalaswami Ayyanger, "United Nations Security Council Official Records", 227th Meeting, January 15, 1948)

Prof Zafar Khan:
 Chairman of the Diplomatic Bureau of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF
London Secretariat: 119-123 Cannon Street Road
North Basement London E1 2LX:   Email:


  1. I completely support the RIGHT TO SELF DETERMINATION of Kashmir, but are the atrocities, which are very tragic and real, perpetrated by the Indian Military alone?


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