Wednesday, 11 December, 2019

Top Kashmiri leader asks Pakistan to withdraw from peace pacts with India


Syed Ali Shah Geelani urges Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to respond to India’s “annexation” of disputed Kashmir by dissolving Tashkent, Shimla and Lahore agreements, and “re-designation” of de facto border to “ceasefire line.”

Islamabad must withdraw “from all aspects” of several peace accords with India and re-designate the de facto Kashmir border Line of Control [or LoC] back to ceasefire line, a top resistance leader in the disputed region urged Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a 92-year-old Kashmiri separatist leader incarcerated at home for almost a decade, said, “Since India has unilaterally ended all bilateral agreements, Pakistan should also announce a withdrawal from all aspects of the Tashkent, Shimla and Lahore agreements.”

“Pakistan should also re-designate the LoC as the ceasefire line since India has now taken the situation back to the status as existed in 1947-48,” Geelani said in a rare letter issued by his faction of All Parties Hurriyet (Freedom) Conference.

“India’s announcement on 5th August 2019, to forcibly annex the territory of Jammu and Kashmir [India-administered Kashmir] and break up the state is an attempt to physically change its internationally accepted disputed status. This unilateral action is against the UN resolutions that guarantee the people the right to self-determination,” he said.

100 days of lockdown

The statement comes as India’s lockdown on the disputed Himalayan region completes 100 days when New Delhi stripped the disputed region’s historical semi-autonomous status earlier in August.

New Delhi rushed a decree through parliament on August 5 unilaterally revoking the constitutional status of disputed Kashmir signed under the temporary treaty of accession signed by its ruler in 1947.

That decision was accompanied by a harsh crackdown, with New Delhi deploying tens of thousands of troops in addition to the already 500,000 troops present there, imposing a sweeping curfew, arresting thousands and cutting virtually all communications.

Authorities have since eased some restrictions, lifting roadblocks and partially restoring landlines and cellphone services. They have encouraged students to return to school and businesses to reopen.

But Kashmiris have largely stayed home, in defiance or fear amid threats of violence.

As the crackdown continues, Kashmiris have quietly refused to resume their normal lives, confounding India at their own economic expense.

New Delhi says abrogation of the limited autonomy is meant for the development of the conflict-torn region, but many Kashmiris say India plans to alter the Muslim demographics of the region by settling outside Hindus there.

Relations have been especially tense since then with Pakistan denouncing the “illegal annexation” of the territory and reacting by cutting trade, transport ties and expelling India’s ambassador.

Status of LoC

On Tuesday, Geelani asked Pakistan’s Imran Khan to take “all possible measures to change the status of the [LoC] fence that separates the divided sides of Jammu and Kashmir.”

“These steps should be accompanied by the government of Pakistan taking full measures at the UN, and with the international community, to give the people of Jammu and Kashmir the promised right to self-determination. If India continues to refuse this demand, Pakistan should press for due measures and sanctions against India,” he said.

Geelani, an influential leader, addressed Khan in what he said was “a critical situation.”

“It is possible that this is my last communication to you, ill health and issues of old age may not allow me to address you again,” he said.

“There come moments in the lives of nations where taking great and brave steps becomes imperative. In such moments, any delays can push nations into decline and defeat,” he urged Khan.

He said India wants to completely change the political character of Kashmir and “is also looking at snatching our land from us.”

“This is exactly like Israeli grabbing of Palestinian land and creating settlements whose residents then further terrorise the Palestinian people while exercising control over the territory.”

The Kashmir leader said Pakistan should call for an all-Parliamentary meeting and take some actions at the governmental level.

“It should also be made clear that this Indian action of changing the status of this disputed territory, and all further that aim at establishing a new scenario and increased killings and oppression in Kashmir are tantamount to a declaration of war. Pakistan should act according to this declaration of a state of war. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are prepared for any eventuality.”

Direct rule from New Delhi

India and Pakistan both administer Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought three wars over Kashmir since 1947.

The region was brought under New Delhi’s direct rule in June 2018 after Indian PM Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] withdrew support for its local partner and dissolved the elected local government.

Since then elections for local assembly have been delayed and the region is under the rule of Indian president.

Resistance groups demand that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country in a UN-promised plebiscite.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population and most people support the cause of over a dozen rebel groups fighting Indian rule there.

Nearly 100,000 people have been killed in the armed rebellion and civil uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown since 1989.

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