An open letter to Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of United Nations; Subject: Need to resolve the Kashmir dispute

by Sabzar Ahmad Bhat and Suhail Farooq 6 November 2019

Respected Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of United Nation;

You are at the helm of affairs of world body UN, which was established decades ago for the main purpose of world peace and to resolve conflicts among nations peacefully. In fact UN has played very important role in resolving various conflicts of the world. It has been successful in preventing disputes from escalating into war. But there are still more disputes waiting to be resolved. One of them is Kashmir, a long standing dispute under UN Security Council for last 70 years. Kashmir is a multi-dimensional dispute involving India and Pakistan (interstate) and between various parties. For the people of Kashmir it is an issue of right to self-determination promised by UN but Kashmiris are facing grave human rights violations from Indian state for asking implementation of the said promise. This dispute has already taken lot of lives, more than 10, 0000 and about 10,000 youth disappeared in custody since 1989. According to well researched reports there are about 7,000 unmarked and mass graves in different parts of Kashmir. Even women face abuses, violence and rapes. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights report on Kashmir (2018) states “on the night of 23 February 1991, soldiers from the 4 Rajputana Rifles regiment of the Indian Army gang-raped around 23 women of Kunan and Poshpora villages of Kupwara district (page no. 36).

Since 5 August 2019, the situation is looking far from normal after Central government lead by BJP scraped article 370 of the Indian constitution, which gave the Kashmir to special status. Before this decision government imposed curfew, blocked mobile phones, snapped internet and detained thousands of people including mainstream leaders. All these facilities are still blocked with some exception. People are not able to talk to their loved ones. They are simply cut off from the rest of the world. People are facing various difficulties like in getting medicine, availability of ambulances etc. The life of common Kashmiri has become very difficult. People are facing economic losses worth crores of rupees. Children are deprived of education for months. There is total ban on freedom of speech. No one is allowed to say something publically against the government’s decision. Public transport is not plying creating difficulties for people to reach hospitals or to go their relatives. Shops are closed and have made scarcity of the essential items. Women are finding it difficult to find sanitary pads because of curfew and shutdown.    

The situation demands your immediate attention. You can play your important role to solve this dispute which is not only critical for the peace in the region but also for the whole world. This is because the dispute involves two nuclear armed countries of South Asia (India and Pakistan). UN chatter has empowered Secretary General to “bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.” So clearly you have the authority and you can use your good office to resolve this long standing conflict, which both the countries India and Pakistan have failed to solve. Kashmiris have great expectations on UN and on you. So there is need to give respect to those expectations and bring the long lasting peace in the region. People of Kashmir have waited for long time to be given the right to decide their own future.  

Thank You.

Authors: Sabzar Ahmad Bhat and Suhail Farooq Lone

Sabzar Ahmad Bhat is a graduate student working on his PhD at Central University of Gujarat, India. His dissertation topic is “Interrogating Human Rights in Kashmir Valley: A Study of State and Non-State Actors.” He has contributed articles to Race and Class Sage, Peace Voice and Medium.com, Purva Mimaansa, Mainstream Weekly, South Asia Journal, Café Dissensus, Pakistan Observer, Greater Kashmir, Rising Kashmir, Kashmir Reader, Kashmir Horizon and Kashmir Insider.

Suhail Farooq Lone is a student of Political Science at University of Kashmir and also a Human Rights Activist, working on the situations of Human Rights in Kashmir.

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