Kashmir Solution: Desmond Tutu Option

An elite group of Kashmiri Americans has proposed to UN secretary general Mr. Ban Ki-Moon to appoint rights activist Bishop Desmond Tutu as head of a UN effort to stabilize Kashmir, where 2,700 unmarked graves were discovered last month.

Warning that Indian occupation soldiers are responsible for a “semi-genocidal campaign” in the disputed territory, the Kashmiri American Council [KAC] used the occasion of the raising of Libya’s new flag at the UN to paint a dark picture behind India’s media blackout on Kashmir.

KAC’s statement is linked to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s remarks during The Otto L. Walter annual lecture at the New York Law School. In the lecture, Mr. Ki-Moon appeared to be reviving a key function of the UN: to support the will of the people.

KAC is an American group lobbying for peace by resolving one of the oldest international disputes on the agenda of UN Security Council. India first involved the UN in the dispute and its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, pledged on 2 November 1948 to allow Kashmiris the right to decide their future but later reneged and forcibly annexed the region.

Mr. Ki-Moon said that support for the Libyan people has revived UN’s mission of standing by the people when their government cannot or will not protect them.

Kashmiris in the Indian-controlled territory and the large Kashmiri Diaspora worldwide “look to the Secretary General of the United Nations as the custodian of the moral responsibility of the United Nations,” KAC said in a statement.

Copies of KAC’s statement were received at powerful offices in the US capital, including the White House, the Department of State and the Capitol building.

The KAC board also referred to petitions submitted earlier to the office of the UN Secretary General:

“The people of Kashmir have tried to address to you various petitions and communications regarding the situation in Kashmir. The information establishes that a massive campaign of brutal oppression that was launched by India in 1990 continues unabated. Various estimates are given of the death toll of civilians so for. Making due allowance for unintended exaggerations, the figure runs into tens of thousands. Countless individuals have been maimed and countless women molested and assaulted. United States, Department of State’s country report on human rights says that 8,000 to 10,000 people have involuntarily disappeared.”

The group’s principals made sure to remind Washington and the international diplomatic presence at the UN of the unmarked graves in Kashmir, which is a scandal for India because the country is already home to 21st century’s first and biggest genocide so far, where 2,000 Indians were butchered over three days in 2002 for being non-Hindus.

“The Board quoted Amnesty International which in its report on September 26, 2011, said that over 2700 unmarked graves have been identified by an 11-member police investigation team of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in four districts of north Kashmir. The state government must ensure that all past and current allegations of enforced disappearances are promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially investigated and that, where there is sufficient evidence, anyone suspected of responsibility for such crimes is prosecuted in proceedings which meet international fair trial standards.”

In a proposal that could help nudge Kashmir on the UN Security Council’s agenda, KAC offered key suggestions:

“The Board warned that India has succeeded in erecting a smokescreen by claiming that the Kashmir issue is to be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan without the intervention of a third party. That wishful thinking has never allowed a meaningful dialogue for a durable and equitable settlement of Kashmir dispute. The human urgency of the situation in Kashmir demands that tripartite negotiations between Governments of India and Kashmir & the genuine leadership of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir be initiated under the leadership of the United Nations. The U.N. can appoint a person of an international standing, like Bishop Desmond Tutu to be the facilitator in this regard.”

Kashmiri-American sources in Washington DC tell PakNationalists.com that Kashmiri-Americans are already in contact with US lawmakers and diplomats from several countries, including Turkey, Belgium, Russia, China and Pakistan, in addition to senior UN officials, to push the idea of Mr. Tutu leading a UN-sponsored arbitration of the Kashmir dispute.

US officials and experts working to improve the chances of peace between Pakistan and India find the idea worth considering.

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