OIC Contact Group on Kashmir calls for immediate de-escalation in the region

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) consists of 57 member states and is an important forum of Muslim countries. (AFP/File)
Updated 26 February 2019

OIC Contact Group on Kashmir calls for immediate de-escalation in the region

  • Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary and President of Pakistan administered Kashmir attended the meeting
  • Tensions have been brewing between India and Pakistan after the Pulwama attack in which Indian paramilitary troops were killed

ISLAMABAD: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir held an emergency meeting in Jeddah on Tuesday, expressing deep concern over mounting tensions in between India and Pakistan and calling for immediate de-escalation in the region.

Pakistan’s Press Consular in Jeddah, Arshad Munir, told Arab News that the meeting was requested by Islamabad following the deteriorating situation in Indian administered Kashmir in the wake of the Pulwama attack.

The situation further deteriorated on Tuesday after India claimed its fighter jets had breached Pakistan’s airspace and targeted alleged terror camps across the Line of Control (LoC).

According to an official handout issued by the OIC, the meeting was chaired by Assistant Secretary General Hameed A. Opeloyeru, and attended by Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Tehmina Janjua, and the Permanent Representatives of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Niger as well as President of Pakistan administered Kashmir Masood Khan.

The assistant secretary general “strongly condemned the recent wave of repression, brutal killing of innocent Kashmiri civilians by the Indian occupied forces, [and] frequent incidents of rape especially of minor girls.”

He also “reiterated OIC’s principled position on supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir in achieving their legitimate rights, including the right of self-determination” and emphasized that the protracted conflict must be “resolved in accordance with the aspiration of the Kashmiri people and the OIC and United Nations resolutions,” said the statement.

The contact group also applauded Prime Minister Imran Khan for trying to normalize relations with India and suggesting that the two countries should try to resolve all outstanding issues between them through a dialogue process.

Apart from that, the participants of the meeting also called on the OIC and the UN Secretaries General to use their good offices to put an end to the dangerous escalation by India, which, they added, threatened regional peace and security.

On March 1, the 46th session of the council of foreign ministers of the OIC will take place in Abu Dhabi in which Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is expected to lead the Pakistani delegation.

For the first time, India will also attend the upcoming OIC session, as a “Guest of Honor.”

Pakistan's support for Kashmiri cause unwavering, Raheel Sharif says in Riyadh

Updated 31 October 2020

Pakistan's support for Kashmiri cause unwavering, Raheel Sharif says in Riyadh

  • Pakistani embassy in Riyadh held a seminar on the human rights situation in Kashmiri territory to mark Kashmir Black Day
  • Kashmiri self-determination is not only a moral and legally justified right, former Saudi ambassador to Pakistan says

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif said that Pakistan supports the Kashmiri cause with an "unflinching resolve."

The general's comment came during a seminar, "Human Rights Situation in Kashmir: Implications for Regional Peace and Stability," organized by the Pakistani embassy in Riyadh to observe Kashmir Black Day on Thursday.

"Let it be known that every citizen of Pakistan stands united with the people of Kashmir and supports their struggle for freedom with an unflinching resolve," said Gen. Raheel Sharif, who now leads the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, a counterterrorist alliance of Muslim countries, which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia.

"The issue of Kashmir is very close to every Pakistani’s heart as we fully understand the cause and dynamics of this struggle right from the beginning. We have closely witnessed the sufferings of our Kashmiri brethren and appreciate their resolve and valor in pursuit of their goal and fundamental human rights."

Former Pakistan army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif participates in a seminar organized in Riyadh by the Pakistani embassy to observe Kashmir Black Day on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (Pakistan Embassy Riyadh via AN)

Kashmiri territory is divided between India and Pakistan, but both countries claim the region in its entirety. Crackdowns in the Indian-administered part have been escalating since August 2019, when New Delhi scrapped Articles 370 and 35A of the constitution, which gave Kashmiris limited autonomy and protected their domicile and employment rights.

If not reversed, the Indian regime's August move, Sharif said, will cause "further unrest in the region."

Saudi Arabia's former ambassador to Pakistan, Ali Awadh Asseri, who was one of speakers in the seminar, said that last year's change in Kashmir's status "through annexation and division of the internationally recognized disputed region," as well as subsequent lockdown and "enforced demographic shift currently underway" have aggravated the humanitarian crisis in the region.

"Kashmiri people are facing a more dangerous situation now as every passing day is marginalizing their political status and socio-economic space," he said during the seminar, as he recalled serving in Pakistan and leading Saudi relief efforts after an earthquake that devastated Kashmir in 2005.  

Saudi Arabia's former ambassador to Pakistan, Ali Awadh Asseri, participates in a seminar organized in Riyadh by the Pakistani embassy to observe Kashmir Black Day on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (Pakistan Embassy Riyadh via AN)

He said the relief could not reach the Indian-administered part of the territory, as New Delhi did not grant access. "We remember that Kashmir on the other side of LOC also faced devastating effects of the earthquake but could not do much due to lack of access by the Indian authorities."

"Kashmiri people want to live their lives according to their free will and India has denied this basic right and instead chosen the path of repression," Asseri added.

"The Kashmiri demand of self-determination is not only the moral right but also legally justified under UN security council resolutions."

India on Wednesday notified new laws that allow non-Kashmiris to buy land in the disputed region, rising concerns that the new regulation would dilute the Muslim-majority character of the region.

"Contrary to Indian claims of bringing development to the Kashmir valley, the real motive remains altering the demographics of the Muslim-majority territory," Islamabad's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Raja Ali Ejaz, told Arab News after the seminar.

He added that the Pakistani government remains "fully committed to the Kashmir cause."