The United Nations (UN) has made the biggest progress in the conflict since the passing of the Security Council resolutions. The first-ever comprehensive UN report on Kashmir, released on June 14, 2018, brings the conflict to the forefront of international agenda.
The UN has paved the way for an international humanitarian and political intervention in Kashmir and, in doing so, has revived international interest in the long-drawn conflict, diplomats, human rights activists and defenders claim.
“This is the most important development since the Security Council passed the first resolution on a referendum in Kashmir more than a half-century ago,” said YFK–International Kashmir Lobby Group Youth Forum for Kashmir Executive Director Ahmed Quraishi.
It is said that the UN is calling for a Commission of Inquiry to conduct “a comprehensive independent international investigation” into Indian human rights violations in seventy years of conflict.
“Kashmir now truly tops the international agenda,” says Altaf Wani, leader of the Kashmir Delegation to the 38th session of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein brought Kashmir under the international spotlight following the extrajudicial killing of Burhan Wani in July 2016. This is his last Council session. A new UN High Commissioner will assume office later this year.
The high commissioner spearheaded a series of high-level policy statements on Kashmir in every session of the UN Human Rights Council, starting in September 2016 and until March 2018.
But on June 14 and again on June 18, the high commissioner stunned rights defenders and the international community by his recommendation for the UN Human Rights Council to create a Commission of Inquiry into Indian abuses in Kashmir.
“The UN report has achieved two things,” said Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR) Executive Director Amjad Khan.
“The first achievement is taking Kashmir to the top of the international agenda,” Amjad said, adding that the second achievement is reaffirming the right of Kashmiris to decide their future.
Khan said the United Nations has indicated that Kashmir Conflict started in 1947, contradicting India’s argument that the conflict began in 1989 when some Kashmiris launched a struggle for freedom.
Major international rights organisations this week criticised India at the Human Rights Council and advised to implement the recommendations of the UN report.
“The top UN rights official referred to the suffering of Kashmiris for seven decades. This is significant. It shows the UN has underlined that Kashmir is a seven-decades-old conflict,” Khan said.
He said that Pakistani media and diplomacy will have to rise to the challenge of building on the latest international breakthrough on Kashmir.
The UN report and the recommendation to form a Commission of Inquiry indicate a possible international intervention in Kashmir at some point in future, he said. “Dealing with this possibility requires diplomatic skill and understanding by Pakistan, India and Kashmiris. Are they ready for this?” he questioned.