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India slams Pak over J&K self-determination charges
November 08, 2006 11:05 IST
Firmly rejecting the Pakistani claim that people of Jammu and Kashmir have been denied the right to self-determination, India has said that they had exercised that right at the time of country's independence and have since repeatedly participated in free and fair elections.
In contrast, Pakistan continued to deny such opportunities to its people in the part of the state occupied by it, Indian delegate Shatrughan Sinha told the United Nations' General Assembly's Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee on Tuesday.
Self-determination, he said, has long been recognised as the right of peoples of non-self governing colonies and trust territories to independence and self-government.
"Attempts continue to be made at the United Nations and elsewhere to reinvent some of the basic principles of the Charter, such as self-determination, and to apply them selectively for narrow political ends. Those who do so would do well to realise that such a reinterpretation may sweep their own countries into its vortex," he warned Islamabad.
Accusing Pakistan of trying to divide the ranks of those who support the inalienable rights of Palestinian people to self-determination, he expressed the confidence that Islamabad would not succeed in its designs.
"On our part, we are convinced that bilateral issues should be resolved bilaterally. India and Pakistan are discussing a whole range of issues in the framework of the bilateral composite dialogue. We look forward to improved relations between our two countries," Sinha told the delegates.
Earlier, Munir Akram, Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations claimed that the 'free exercise' of the right to self-determination had been denied in several parts of the world, such as Jammu and Kashmir, and Palestine.
"Six decades had passed since the Kashmiri people had been promised the exercise of that right by the Security Council, which had pronounced that the area's future would be decided through a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under United Nations auspices. After decades of confrontation and conflict, largely over Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan and India had been engaged in dialogue for three years to resolve the issue," he added.
Several confidence-building measures, Akram said, had been adopted.
"The President of Pakistan had advanced several creative ideas, including demilitarisation, self-rule and joint administration. Any durable solution would require flexibility and boldness on both sides and be acceptable to Pakistan and India and, above all, to the people of Jammu and Kashmir," he claimed.
Replying, Sinha asserted that the reference to the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir is 'irrelevant to the deliberations', which are meant to focus on the right of peoples to self-determination.
But no right, including the right to self-determination, should be used as an instrument to promote 'subversion and erode the political cohesion or territorial integrity of member states of the UN', he added.
Warning against abuse of the right to self-determination to 'encourage secessionism and undermine pluralistic, democratic states', he said there is no room for self-determination to be 'distorted and misinterpreted' as a right of a group, on the basis of ethnicity, religion or racial criteria, or any other such categorisation, and use it to attempt to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.
"Ethnic or religious segregation and chauvinism cannot be legitimised on the ground that societies need to be constituted on homogenous lines before they can be tolerant towards diversity and accept multi-culturalism. Such a view will only aid forces of narrow chauvinism and ethnic, religious and racial exclusivity," he told the delegates.
The battle against racism, Sinha said, has to be fought within societies in each nation so as to change thought-processes and attitudes.
In addition to international efforts, action by states for the promulgation of stringent national laws, their strict implementation, and the setting up of independent national institutions with powers to address manifestations of racism, needs heightened attention, he added.
Expressing India's 'unwavering support' for the people of Palestine to attain their 'inalienable rights', including the right to self-determination, Sinha said India believes that there can be no military solution to the Palestinian issue and voiced concern over endless cycle of violence and counter violence.
Sinha said it is critical for the international community, in particular the Middle East quartet, to work closely with the parties with a view to help realise the dream of the peoples of Palestine and Israel to live in peace, side by side, within recognised and secure borders, thus realising the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.