Kashmir Settlement Will Usher in Era of Peace: Pak Tells UN

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UNITED NATIONS – Drawing the international community’s attention to the alleged repression and human rights violations of the people in Indian administered Kashmir, Pakistan has called for a peaceful settlement of the decades-old dispute in accordance with UN resolutions.

“Such a historic step would usher in an era of peace, security and harmony in South Asia,” Pakistani delegate Marghoob Salim Butt told the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural questions.

Speaking in a debate on the “Right of peoples to self-determination”, he said the move in the recent past by India and Pakistan to engage each other on a whole range of issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, was a “positive development.

“The two countries owe a peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, on the basis of principles of justice and international legality, to the future generations of Pakistanis, Indians and more importantly Kashmiris.”

The Pakistani delegate said the importance of the right to self-determination was clear, based on international law norms, human rights and principles including that it could not be exercised under conditions of foreign occupation. The legitimate struggle of peoples for self-determination could not be set aside by equating it with terrorism, he said. However, the exercise of that right continued to be denied, including in Jammu and Kashmir, where people continued to wage a peaceful struggle to achieve their right to self-determination.

Kashmir remained a symbol of the failure of the United Nations, he said, quoting from President Asif Ali Zardari’s address to the General Assembly in September.

“The peaceful struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir goes on,” Butt told delegates from around the world. “They want their voice to be heard; their aspirations respected; pledges to them honored.”

Turning to the issue of racism, the Pakistani delegate said his country had remained actively involved in the fight against, among other things, the legacy of colonization.

Regrettably, he said, commitments made to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action had not yet been translated into real action. Increasing instances of intolerance, discrimination and violence based on religion or beliefs were shocking, he said, noting that Muslims had become a target and misperceptions had been spread about Islam, which was a religion of tolerance.

Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue and promoting tolerance and respect for religious and cultural diversity were essential for combating racial discrimination and related intolerance, Butt added. Agencies

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