Ambassador Malik Nadeem Abid is a devoted community advocate & human rights activist. In 2014, International Human Rights Commission nominated him as Ambassador to United Nations. In June 2016, he was appointed as Secretary General of International Human Rights Commission and Executive Director of IHRC Relief Fund Trust. Malik Nadeem Abid served as member of the National Council of “Fellowship of Reconciliation” to promote peace and harmony among different religious and ethnic communities. He is also New York Chapter President of “American Muslim Voice Foundation” and also sits on AMV Foundation’s National Board.
- As per the resolutions of the United Nations, Kashmir is still a disputed territory and India should not be hosting G-20 Conference in Kashmir. Pakistan and China have a very big moral responsibility to fight against it
- Nelson Mandela suggested to me that the government of Pakistan should immediately set up an investigation commission to find out what went wrong with Pakistan’s Kashmir Policy over history
- I spent months going through the archives of documents of the United Nations to see if Pakistan ever demanded the appointment of a plebiscite administrator and I could not find one single letter depicting that Pakistan ever demanded the appointment of a plebiscite administrator
- Pakistani Prime Minister should write a letter to the Secretary General of United Nations to appoint a plebiscite administrator in the 1950 UNSC Resolution.
Q: How you compare the old operating structure of Indian Occupied Kashmir with the current situation, by this I mean after the recent developments, for example, the revocation of Article 370 and 35-A, then the curfew and of course now the imprisonment of Yasin malik?
Excellency: Thank you so much for having me. I have continuously been in touch with people, my family, my friends, my colleagues, in the Indian Occupied Kashmir on an almost daily basis for the last several decades. Life in Indian Occupied Kashmir is called “heaven made hell by the Indian army,” a statement by a U.S Professor of Political Science Dr. William Baker. When it comes to the treatment of the Indian Army or even the Indian political systems, especially after August 5th, 2019 when they took all the rights of the people of Kashmir by revoking article 370 and article 35-A of the independence of Kashmir. Indian Government had put complete restrictions on the communication system for several months, for almost a year and a half there had been no communication with the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir. We used to have information on a daily basis on how many people are tortured by the Indian army and how many Kashmiri women and girls are being molested by Indian forces but immediately after August 2019 for almost 18, 19 months we could not get any information because there was a complete blockade even up to the extent that the International Red Cross could not send any humanitarian supplies to the people of Kashmir. Life there is still the worst one can imagine.
Q: It is understandable that since the revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A, when the Indian government stripped the autonomy of Kashmir the conditions and situation there have worsened. But there is also a speculation circulating that India further has some evil plans, for example, if we observe in recent times there is speculation that demographic change has been on the plot!
Excellency: India is trying to keep strict control over Indian Occupied Kashmir. I always say that they are much more loyal to their cause than us because in 2019 first of all they changed the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir from an independent state fully protected by the Indian Constitution as a disputed territory to federally controlled union territories they distributed the state of Jammu and Kashmir into three zones Valley, Jammu, and Ladakh. So now, Kashmir does not have its own identity as a state of Jammu and Kashmir defined in the United Nations charter and the United Nations Resolutions. The second thing they are pushing to do is to change the demographics of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Government has already issued more than four million domiciles to non-Kashmiris to make sure if and when there is a plebiscite the number of Muslims percentage who would vote for Pakistan should change to a minority. But, let me assure you one thing that the United Nations Resolutions are very clear, no matter how many domiciles Indian government issues this will not change the demographics of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as long as the government of Pakistan keeps fighting for the rights of people of Kashmir because if and when there is a final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and the United Nations announces the plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir those illegally issued domiciles will not be considered in the plebiscite. United Nations will not accept them as legal residents of the state of Jammu and Kashmir so as a Kashmiri and as a Human Right Activist, I’m not worried about those domiciles because they are all illegal.
Q: Excellency, India will get the Presidency of the G-20 in December 2022, after which they will be able to organize the G-20 summit in India and it is no surprise that India has announced organizing the G-20 summit in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Major economies of the world and leaders of those countries converging in a region that is disputed between Pakistan, China, and India, what do you think Pakistan and China should officially state about this, and secondly, what do you believe that India wants to leverage out of this opportunity at diplomatic fronts?
Excellency: There are two answers to this question, first of all as a Kashmiri I have no problem if India wants to host 10 different conferences in Kashmir, because that will strengthen the economy of the local people let me tell you one thing in Indian Occupied Kashmir there were two major portions of the economy in India Occupied Kashmir. Number one was tourism but because of the Indian state terrorism, tourism has gone terribly low. The second thing which impacted negatively the economy of Jammu and Kashmir was that the Indian government deliberately destroyed the apple orchards, and other fruit trees intentionally so that they can damage the economy of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to demoralize them. So, if they host the conference in Indian occupied Kashmir, it would eventually benefit Kashmiris. However, as per the resolutions of the United Nations, Kashmir is still a disputed territory and India should not be hosting G-20 Conference in Kashmir. Pakistan and China have a very big moral responsibility to fight against it. I hope Pakistan encourages China or requests China for diplomatic support for this cause. But you have to understand one thing, in today’s world most of the decisions are made based on the economics of countries, and after China, India is the world’s second-largest consumer market. That is why even China is not willing to sacrifice its business in India. But overall, I do not think the hosting of the G-20 conference in Indian Occupied Kashmir is going to harm the status of Kashmir as a disputed territory. Yes, it’s going to raise the living standards of the people of Kashmir and as an expert on financial matters, I think for the financial gain of the people of Jammu and Kashmir we can compromise on this thing if they want to host the G-20 summit.
Q: Contrary to this, another approach is what India plans to leverage out of this on the diplomatic front. What kind of challenges, do you think will Pakistan face after this, and what is the opportunity for India?
Excellency: The diplomatic gains India is trying to or planning to have from this is that they are going to portray that the people of Kashmir are very happy and there is no unrest in Kashmir and all this is propaganda generated by Pakistan. This is what they are going to try to prove to the G-20 leadership. But I believe that the people of Kashmir are not going to settle only for the financial prospects and there will be protests and demonstrations resulting in unrest no matter how much the Indian government tries to contain the region.
Q: When we compare the narrative building of India to that of Pakistan, since its very inception, Pakistan has been an advocate of Kashmiri’s right to self-determination but when we do a critical evaluation of the global recognition and acceptance of the Pakistani narrative, we come to this realization that our policy has failed to yield the desired results! What according to you are the problems and who is to blame here: the Government, Media, or our Foreign Office?
Excellency: Several years ago, I met the great leader of South Africa honorable Nelson Mandela. That was my second meeting with him and I asked him if you love your people, how in the world you don’t love the people of Kashmir who are going through the same tortures, the same problem, the same issues which your people were going through under the rule of the apartheid government. So why don’t you help Kashmiris and what can we do to help speed up the right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir’s independence?
He said (this was 2013), that in the last 60-65 years you had the most powerful human resolutions in favor of the right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir. “What went wrong that you could not get the plebiscite, what went wrong” he repeated this question twice.
He also mentioned that “there was a resolution for the independence of East Timor, and they got independence within a few years. Where are you wrong and where have you made mistakes.” Nelson Mandela suggested to me two things, first of all just as we all know that when South Africa got independence from the white minority and Nelson Mandela became the first Black President of South Africa, the first major decision he made was he forgave people who tortured him for 27 years, who put him in jail for 27 years. The second important thing he did was to set up a “commission truth and reconciliation commission” as he wanted to investigate if the complaints of torture and mistreatment of the white minority government were right! He knew that if I don’t do the reconciliation between my black majority people and white minority people there will be bloodshed in the country and they would never be able to move forward.
He (Nelson Mandela) suggested that first of all the government of Pakistan should immediately set up an investigation commission to find out what went wrong in Pakistan and who was wrong as in 1949, You got the ‘right to self-determination resolution’ from the Security Council and from 1949 till 2013, it did not move one inch in the United Nations. The government of Pakistan must formulate a neutral investigation commission and look into the issue. We must investigate whether it was the fault of diplomats, the fault of elected governments, or some other department of Pakistan!
This investigation commission should keep working and try to explore the actual reasons for the complete failure of the policy of the government of Pakistan on Kashmir. On top of that, the Pakistani Prime Minister should right away write a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations to appoint a plebiscite administrator in the 1950 Security Council Resolution.
And let me remind you that the Secretary General of the United Nations is an employee of the United Nations, so the Secretary General is bound to follow the instructions of the Security Council.
As a Human Rights advocate and a Kashmiri, myself, I spent months going through the archives of documents of the United Nations to see if Pakistan ever demanded the appointment of a plebiscite administrator and I could not find one single letter depicting that Pakistan ever demanded the appointment of a plebiscite administrator. One must look into it that why none of the Prime Ministers or Presidents wrote this letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations. Also, why has nobody appointed an Investigation Commission to investigate why this policy of Pakistan’s Kashmir affairs had been a complete failure and why even as of today the Prime Minister or President of Pakistan is not willing to write a letter to the Secretary-General to appoint a plebiscite administrator.
Here, I want to clarify one thing being a Kashmiri myself I am of a strong belief that Pakistan is the only country in the world that supported the Kashmir cause since the problem started in 1947. There is a saying of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) that if you are not thankful to the man you are not thankful to Allah. So as a Kashmiri I want to take this opportunity of your media to thank the people of Pakistan for their love, their support, and their never-ending efforts to support the people of Kashmir. But, none of the governments of Pakistan has done their work so far. Moreover, I have this concern that why the government of Azad Kashmir never initiated the groundwork to have the plebiscite work done locally. If the United Nations announces the plebiscite today, there is no work done in Azad Kashmir so far!
So, now I’m leaving the ball in the court of the people of Pakistan to ask this question from their leadership, why there has never been an investigation commission, why have none of the Kashmiris ever raised this question? Where was the mistake, and whose fault is this? is it the leadership of Azad Kashmir, is it the political leadership of Pakistan or is there some force in Pakistan that does not want the Kashmir issue to be resolved?
Q: As you have mentioned the role of people here so my question is what do you think is the role of the Kashmiri diaspora in voicing the Kashmir issue overseas?
Excellency: People of Kashmir who are living overseas in the western world or even in the Middle East, cannot do much because of their limited and restricted laws. According to the local laws and the local regulations, the best thing these people can do is to involve the local lawmakers. For instance, they can reach out to the members of the Congress or Senate in the US and the members of the European Parliament in Europe to write about the situation in Kashmir to the Secretary of State. It is a practice in the western world that if 100 people from one constituency write a letter to their member of congress that they are worried about the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir. They are required by law to write a letter to the Secretary of State that my constituents are worried about what’s going on in Indian Occupied Kashmir so please investigate. Unfortunately, the Kashmiri community is not very strong financially in USA, moreover, American financial interests in India are tremendously large and that is why, since August 2019, when the Indian government abrogated articles 370 and 35-a only five Congressional hearings were held in America. In Europe, however, people had been doing a lot of follow-ups. The Kashmiri diaspora is trying its best but the problem is the bilateral relationship of the government of Pakistan with the superpower. Pakistan’s bilateral relationships with the US and in fact in many of the other regions are not strong to get the support needed!
I think the biggest work we need to do is to again evaluate Pakistan’s foreign policy and find where Pakistan’s foreign policy needs to be improved to build stronger relationships overseas.
One incident I am going to quote here is about damaging Pakistan’s foreign policy on Kashmir. On the first Shahadat Anniversary of Shaheed Buran Wani, Pakistani Ambassador Maliha Lodhi instead of organizing an educational seminar about the Life of Shaheed Burhan organized a musical evening in the Asia Society, spending half a million dollars of the taxpayers’ money of Pakistan! Nobody from the foreign office dared to ask Ambassador Maliha why there was no mention of the extrajudicial killing of Shaheed Burhan Wani. I see it as a complete failure of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Q: I would like to ask you in what capacity your organization (International Human Rights Commission) have dealt with Kashmir Situation and what further, you plan to do!
Excellency: International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) is an intergovernmental organization, we have MoU signed by many countries mostly in Africa and some in Asia. But we are not an enforcement agency, we don’t have the power to enforce the U.N resolutions, and we don’t have powers to go to Indian Occupied Kashmir or enforce the right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir. The only thing we can do as an intergovernmental organization is to raise awareness in different parts of the world about what’s going on in Kashmir and that’s exactly what we do we host conferences in different countries about Kashmir specifically and sometimes we host conferences about human rights violations. We host a conference in the United Nations where we invite different countries and we discuss Human Rights violations in three to four bigger regions. So, of course, Kashmir is one of them, because one of the biggest human rights violations we observe these days occur in the Indian-occupied Kashmir. Our job as an NGO is to raise awareness and do the educational portion so that’s all we can do because we cannot have the enforcement power.
In conclusion, I personally believe that Pakistan due to its weak political structure and its weak foreign policy does not have a very strong position in the international arena these days. Pakistan first has to strengthen its position locally, domestically, and politically and then go out and build up more relationships with other countries. Only then, Pakistan can put pressure through the United Nations, and on India to provide the right to self-determination to the people of Kashmir. Pakistan must not hope for any support from countries like the US, Europe or Russia or any other powerful country until and unless Pakistan is stronger at home. So, a stronger and more stabilized Pakistan is detrimental for the peaceful resolution of Kashmir!