The Embassy of Pakistan organized a seminar on 4 August at the Chancery, in observance of the Youm e Istehsal, to mark the unilateral and illegal abrogation of special autonomous status of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) as well as removal of restrictions on demographic changes in the territory by India on 5 August 2019. Senior Norwegian politicians, Parliamentarians, social activists, journalists as well as prominent members of Pakistani and Kashmiri communities in Norway attended the Seminar.
The speakers included Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevick, former Prime Minister of Norway, who joined virtually, Ms. Kari Elisabeth Kaski, MP Socialist Left Party, Tobias Drevlend Lund MP Red Party, Mr. Abdulla Alsabeeh Labour Party Deputy Lord Mayor Oslo, Mr. Geir Lippestad, Chairman Sentrum Party, Mr. Khalid Mehmood former Member of Parliament Mr. Athar Ali Chaudhry, former Member of Parliament were the key note speakers of the seminar.
In his remarks the former Prime Minister of Norway, Mr Kjell Magne Bondevick recalled his visit to both sides of the LOC in Kashmir. He shared his personal observation of the lost opportunities and human sufferings. He mentioned that India was hindering implementation of UN Resolutions demanding referendum for the future status of Kashmir. It had also not responded positively to any efforts for bilateral dialogue with Pakistan for a settlement of dispute. Mr. Bondevick added that the parties should recognize Kashmir as the central dispute and strive for a solution acceptable to both countries as well as to the people of Kashmir. Condemning the increased oppression since India altered the constitutional status of Kashmir, he called on the Norwegian government to raise the dire human rights situation in Kashmir with the Indian government. Mr. Bondevick while mentioning the hunger strike of Huriyat leader Yasin Malik called on the Indian government to ensure his fair trial. The former Prime Minister also called on the UN Secretary General to take initiative on Kashmir for lasting peace and reconciliation in the region.
In her remarks, Ms. Kari Elizabeth Kaski, Member of Parliament from the Socialist Left Party (SV) said that the fate of the people of Kashmir, their dignity, freedom and self determination is important agenda of our party. She demanded that India must restore the autonomous status of Kashmir as was before 5 August 2019. She said that Norway must demand immediate, independent and impartial investigation in unlawful detention, disappearances, and killings of the civilians and journalists in Kashmir. She also urged the Norwegian government to strongly demand for respect and immediate reinstatement of the civil liberties of the people of Kashmir and their lawful leadership. She added that Norway with previous history of a good facilitator for peace negotiator must take role for resolution of the conflict. Considering a seat in the UNSC, she said that Norway must be a strong voice for peace, reconciliation and human rights in Kashmir. .
Mr. Tobias Drevland Lund, MP from the Red Party, emphasized that the international community has for long turned a blind eye to the oppression in Kashmir and resolution of the conflict. He added that in August 2019, the Modi government imposed illegal curfew by abolishing the special status of Kashmir, thereby, depriving people of the basic human rights under the draconian laws. He said that India had always portrayed itself as world’s largest democracy, but the truth is that the Government of Modi is turning more authoritarian. He further said that the Norwegian government should clearly state to the Indian authorities that the systematic discrimination and displacement of country’s Muslim population in Kashmir must stop. He remarked that the leader of his Red Party raised question in the Parliament and would continue to push the Norwegian government to put pressure on India to end the military suppression and violence in Kashmir.
Mr. Abdulla Alsabeehg, Deputy Lord Mayor Oslo expressed concerns on the human rights abuses ensuing from the illegal Indian actions of 5 August 2019, while disregarding the will of the people of IIOJK. He said that the solution to the dispute was embodied in the UN binding Resolutions on Kashmir through a free and fair plebiscite under the UN auspices.
Mr. Geir Lippestad, Chairman Sentrum Party said that the illegal occupation of Kashmir by India is a gross violation of human rights. He elaborated that Norway should use its mandate in UNSC to talk about the human rights situation in Kashmir. He mentioned that the issue of Kashmir has been adopted in his Party’s agenda, and will be rigorously raised on every platform to condemn the human rights violations in Kashmir.
The former MP of Norwegian Parliament, Mr. Athar Ali mentioned that the legitimate struggle for freedom and self-determination of Kashmir must be recognised as a demand that is justified and in congruence with the international law. He added that no unilateral step by the Government of India can change this disputed status, as enshrined in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
The seminar was moderated by prominent Norwegian-Pakistani politician and former MP, Mr. Khalid Mahmood, who highlighted India’s illegal actions and draconian laws to occupy Jammu and Kashmir both physically, socio-culturally and to alter the demographic makeup of the disputed territory, which was in sheer violation of the UNSC resolutions, Human Rights and humanitarian law.
The Ambassador conveyed gratitude to the speakers and guests for participation in Seminar and Webinar on the Kashmir Youm e Istehsal. He elaborated the backdrop of the Indian illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019, wherein it unsuccessfully tried to alter the internationally recognized disputed status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK). He informed the audience of the Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Norwegian RAFTO Foundation that had expressed grave concern over the massive human rights violations in IIOJK following India’s illegal actions of August 5, 2019. The Ambassador also highlighted the two comprehensive reports in 2018 and 2019 that had documented human rights violations in IIOJK in detail and recommended UN Commission of Inquiry, which India refused. He appealed to the global community especially Norway which holds great pride for defending human rights world over to publicly raise their voice for the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the UN Security Council, UN Human Rights Council as well as with the Indian interlocutors. In keeping with its high priority for human rights, peace building and peace making; Ambassador suggested that Norway may demand the following from its Indian interlocutors:
- Respect the human rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir including their inalienable Right to Self-determination.
- Implement, without further delay, relevant UN resolutions to allow people of Jammu & Kashmir to exercise their will through a free and fair plebiscite under UN auspices.
- Immediately withdraw the illegal legislation to abrogate autonomy of IIOJK and removing of restrictions on its demographic changes, including the domicile order.
- Completely lift the inhuman lockdown; restore all fundamental freedoms of Kashmiris; restoration of all communications and repeal its draconian laws like AFSPA, PSA, UAPA, FEMA etc.
- Accept the OHCHR’s Reports and recommendations on Jammu and Kashmir, agreeing on the establishment of the UN-supervised Commission of Inquiry to comprehensively investigate all the charges of human rights violations.
- Allow international humanitarian organizations to reach out to the besieged population of IOJ&K for the provision of food, medical supplies, and giving relief in the humanitarian crisis faced by them.
A documentary highlighting the egregious violations of human rights and the illegal actions by the Indian Government after revocation of special status of Kashmir on 5 August 2019, was also showcased during the Seminar.
A large number of community members residing outside Oslo joined the seminar through Zoom platform from all across Norway. The Seminar was live-streamed on the Facebook page of the Mission, official page of the Ministry, and received wide projection through the social media platform.
4 August 2022