Pakistan urges UNSC to stop India from making demographic changes in Kashmir

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 24 (APP):Pakistan has called on the United Nations Security Council to prevent India from carrying out its “criminal colonial project” to convert occupied Jammu and Kashmir’s Muslim majority into a minority, saying it was the 15-member body’s “direct responsibility” to do this under the UN resolutions.

In a letter addressed to the Security Council President for the month of November, Ambassador Inga Rhonda King of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi drew her attention to what he called “highly concerning developments” in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) — grave human rights violations, illegal demographic changes and escalating threats to peace and security.

The letter was handed over to Ambassador King, the Council president, by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Munir Akram, at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday evening. It will be circulated as an official document of the Security Council under agenda item: “India-Pakistan Question”.

The foreign Minister said that since India’s illegal annexation of Kashmir on 5 August 2019, New Delhi has been implementing a well-planned strategy of military occupation, land confiscation, influx of non-Kashmiris, and creation of alien settlements in the disputed territory.

“Besides the continued military siege and communications blockade for more than fifteen months, extra-judicial killings of innocent civilians in fake encounters and collective punishment for Kashmiri communities, the present RSS-inspired Indian Government has accelerated its illegal steps to institute demographic changes in IIOJK,” the letter said.
The Indian Government, it said, has issued more than 2 million ‘domiciles’ to non-Kashmiri settlers, and simplified the procedures, with government officials being fined for failing to grant a domicile within 15 days.
Among other things, India revoked and amended a series of laws meant to provide fundamental protections to the people of Kashmir, allowing “citizens of India” to purchase non-agricultural land there without ever having held residency or domicile of the occupied territory.

Indian occupation forces have been permitted to designate certain lands as ‘strategic areas’ and bring them under their use for ‘development’ purposes, enabling them to construct more cantonments and military colonies to settle serving and retired Indian military officials in Kashmir, the letter said.

According to the Indian government’s own records, the Indian military has already seized 53,353 hectares of prime forest, agricultural and commercial land in Kashmir under the guise of “national security”.

Also, according to the letter, the way has been paved for real-estate tycoons and wealthy sponsors of the RSS-BJP regime who wish to acquire as much land as possible under the garb of so-called ‘development’.

“Since July 2020, under a new ‘Affordable Housing, Slum Redevelopment and Rehabilitation and Township Policy’, incentives are being offered to outsiders, especially from the ‘Hindi speaking belt’ in India, to settle in IIOJK on the land of the Kashmiris,” the letter said.

“Through these illegal measures, IIOJK is in danger of being completely colonized by outside settlers with the indigenous Kashmiris losing their political and cultural identity, their rightful demographic majority and ownership of their properties in their own homeland.”

The Indian Government’s actions, it said, were contravention of the UNSC resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, the UN Charter and international law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that “the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.
The letter said India continues to engage in violations of the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding with Pakistan by continuously targeting civilian populated areas with artillery fire, heavy-caliber mortars and automatic weapons across the Line of Control. This year alone, it said, India has committed more than 2,700 ceasefire violations, resulting in deaths of 25 innocent people and serious injuries to more than 200 civilians.

“India is also trying to falsely project itself as the ‘victim’ of terrorism in a perverse attempt to try to delegitimize the Kashmiris’ just struggle for self-determination and to try to divert international attention from its own state-sponsored terrorism against the Kashmiri people and against its neighbors, for which Pakistan has presented irrefutable evidence,” the foreign minister said in his letter.

India, he said, will never be able to succeed in suppressing Kashmiris’ legitimate struggle to secure their inherent right of self-determination.

“Under the provisions of the UN Charter and according to its Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, the Security Council has a direct responsibility to prevent India from perpetrating its criminal colonial project to change the demographic structure of a disputed territory and to secure the implementation of its resolutions which recognize the Kashmiris’ legitimate right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices.”