Fai hails Guterres, proposes appointing special representative on Kashmir issue

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NEW YORK: The prominent Kashmiri leader Ghulam Nabi Fai has welcomed a recent statement of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in which he underscored the importance of the peoples’ right to self-determination in promoting peace and stability in the world, and urged him to appoint a special representative to move the process for the resolution of the decades-old Kashmir dispute.

“The people of Kashmir were heartened by the bold declaration” of the UN chief last Friday when he addressed the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization, Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum, said in a statement.
The secretary-general had told the 24-member committee on Feb. 21 that “United Nations’ support for the right to self-determination — while slower than it was at its historic peak in the 20th century — remains both a source of pride for the world body and a crucial pillar of its work going forward.”

Noting UN chief’s recent statements in which he expressed concern over the situation in Kashmir, which is under a repressive lockdown down for nearly six months, Fai said Guterres has been consistent in urging both India and Pakistan to initiate a process leading to a resolution of Kashmir problem and to avail of his assistance towards that end. Until now, India has made no constructive response to this offer, saying the problem was its “internal matter.”

Fai proposed that the secretary-general’s special representative’s mandate should include: Bringing about an end to human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir; withdrawal of Indian paramilitary forces from Kashmir; release of all political prisoners and detainees; lifting the ban on internet communications; repealing all draconian laws, including: the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990; and Public Safety Act (PSA); allowing freedom of speech and assembly; recognizing religious freedom, and setting up an intra-Kashmir dialogue to enable the formulation of the Kashmiri standpoint.

The special representative, Fai said, would also work out a plan for mutual balanced force reduction in Kashmir to establish an environment conducive to the peace process, while urging India and Pakistan to respect the right of Kashmiri people to self-determination as guaranteed under the UN Security Council resolutions.