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Kashmir and UN’s Responsibility to Protect

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Sovereign states are expected to act as guardians of their citizen’s security, but what happens if states behave as criminals towards their own people, treating sovereignty as a license to kill? Should tyrannical states be recognized as legitimate members of international society and accorded the protection afforded by the non-intervention principle? Non-Intervention is commonly understood as the norm in international society since Peace of Westphalia 1648 , but should military intervention be permissible when governments massively violate the human rights of their own citizens, are unable to prevent such violations, or if states have collapsed into civil war and anarchy?[1] The answer is Responsibility to Protect.

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a concept that has emerged recently in international law in response to humanitarian crises the world is facing in post-cold war era. First proposed by a commission convened by Canada in 2001, it was then approved in the United Nation’s 2005 World Summit Outcome, and through UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.[2] It is the doctrine of United Nations according to which UN has assured responsibility to ensure peace throughout the world under Int. humanitarian and Human rights law.R2P is invoked when there is a threat of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  It confers a responsibility on the international community to prevent mass atrocities. R2P is fulfilled by first warning a state that displays unwillingness to prevent such crimes or an apathy in dealing with them, and can result in a military intervention if deemed necessary over.[3]

In the context of R2P, the biggest concern in South Asia since 1947 is the Kashmir issue. The valley of Jammu and Kashmir is prevailing under the shadow of anarchy, where there is chaos, insecurity, disorder and uncertainty. It is an internationally recognized disputed territory between India and Pakistan, distributed into two parts each is controlled by one state.It is also the bone of contention between India and Pakistan since inception.  Yet, both states fought three full fledge wars, numerous low intensity conflicts and continue border skirmishes. In this matter, the UN has adopted UN Security Council Resolution 47 on 21 April 1948, to resolve the issue of Kashmir. According to the resolution, a plebiscite should be conducted in the region and let the people of Kashmir decided rather they want to join Pakistan or India. According to International Law Kashmir is neither part of India nor Pakistan. But both states have firm national interests in this valley. The recent constitutional changes in India on August 5th of 2019 has worsen the situation and triggered the Kashmir dispute on the edge of complex emergencies which itself requires humanitarian assistance. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s special status and its constitutional article 370, which provides a special status to Kashmir with a certain amount of autonomy. In simple words India seized the Kashmir diplomatically and politically with the power of soft politics.[4]In his address to the 74th UNGA, Malaysian PM Mohamad Mahathir said: “Now, despite the UN resolution on Jammu and Kashmir, the country has been invaded and occupied.”[5]India did this by deploying around 700,000 army personals in Kashmir over the population of 8 million. After 5 months of curfew since August, India recently changed the status of the valley of Jammu and Kashmir into two different federally administrated unions. The decision was made when most of the political leaders of the valley are under house-arrests and valley is under the siege.

The international community in general and UN in specific has to take certain measure as India is culprit of three misconducts in the valley. First, it decided the remove the special status of Kashmir (unilaterally) that is recognized as disputed territory internationally and this act is also against the UN resolution for Kashmir. Second, this act of India is against the will of the people of Kashmir, as it has been done forcefully and decision is being imposed on the people of Kashmir. The third and most important offense is India carrying out crimes against humanity in the valley. Starting from political repression and suppression of freedom of expression to the killings, sexual abuse and force disappearance, all these actions can be categorized as crimes against humanity. These crimes against humanity have been highlighted by many news agencies such as Al-Jazeera, BBC world, Pakistan Today, Etc.In the words of India’s secular humanist Arundhati Roy: ‘India’s moral position on Kashmir has never, ever been a moral position. It is a kind of moral corrosion that has corroded all of us. And now, now the world is looking at it’. The Indian notion of maintaining Kashmir’s territorial status quo –is eliminating the chances of freedom, protection of basic human rights and Kashmiri’s right to self-determination guaranteed under the UN’s Charter.[6]

According to ex-Pakistani permanent ambassador to UN, Dr Maleha Lodhi,‘’How can this body command the respect it deserves if its own laws are broken?”  UN member nations need some self-examination as to why the Security Council is “reluctant” to refer legal disputes to the International Court of Justice. And if we have no credible answers to these questions except the imperatives of realpolitik, “the world at large will view the United Nations as little more than a political tool in the hand of the powerful few”, if it remains silent on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir despite the promises made to the people of Kashmir through numerous resolutions of this body.  This impression would hardly inspire “trust,” Pakistan Representative to the UN Dr Maleha Lodhi rightly argued. Hence, the UN doctrine R2P demands international attention and rapid response in Kashmir.

However, the doctrine of R2P is complex in its own principles, application and it is wrapped in  power politics[7].  R2P comes under the umbrella of soft law. The identification of R2P in international law may minimize its role and value. Soft law non-binding and represent the wish of the international community with a view to further development in the specific law. The UN still faces challenges regarding the uniformity of its laws in terms of dispute settlement, exclusively in the Kashmir case. It is the issue of ‘’Sovereignty v/s Hypocrisy’’. Sovereignty v/s Hypocrisy under the notion of R2P can be associated with two types of sovereignty, the territorial sovereignty of weak states and the decision making sovereignty of powerful state. India will never allow international community to intervene in its matter especially when it claims Kashmir as a bilateral issue between its bordering Pakistan. It is quite noticeable that the world powers feel awkward and unequipped to intervene in Kashmir conflict because the country involved is too powerful and does not listen to morals and ethics when every state has interest attach with it.[8] R2P is embedded in the tools of national interests, it can apply to Libya or Syria but not In Kashmir due to the great power politics and the competition of hegemony.

India v/s Kashmir is a case of a large country bullying a small nation into submission in violation of not only their right to sovereignty but international agreements and two dozen UN resolutions giving them the right to determine their own political fate. The purpose of so many troops stationed in this small country is no other than obvious oppression. The Indian stance of being a secular state has been shattered due to forceful insertion of Jammu and Kashmir as Gandhi also said “Kashmir is real test of secularism in India”.[9] Their presence makes Kashmir the largest army concentration anywhere in the world, which is itself a major threat to international peace and security.  

On the other side of this coin, we have Pakistan, which also controls one third of Kashmir. The two countries have traded spikes and bullets over possession of this land for over six decades. Nawaz Sharif articulated his country’s policy on September 26, 2014 during his speech at the United Nations: “The core issue of Jammu and Kashmir has to be resolved. This is the responsibility of the international community. We cannot draw a veil on the issue of Kashmir until it is addressed in accordance with the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir”. The words of prime Minister were centered towards the responsibility of International society of states which highlighted the urgency of humanitarian assistance. During 74th session of UNGA, PM Imran Khan delivered historic speech to world leaders and showed the real face of India’s atrocities and violence in Indian occupied Kashmir. Pakistan’s stance is morally and primarily directed towards the freedom of Kashmir based on peace rather than war. Military confrontation by Pakistan is always the reaction of Indian drama in Kashmir. Today Both states hold Lethal nuclear weapons and International community believe that Kashmir will be first place on earth to see nuclear war. In future if situation escalate it will no longer be the issue of humanitarian assistance or intervention but global nuclear security issue. India wants to acquire whole territory of Kashmir, but this military acquisition will not be ignored by consciousness of world political society of states.

Moreover, Ban-Ki-Moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, brings the situation in Kashmir to the attention of the Security Council under the provision of Article 99 of the United Nations Charter.Article 99 authorizes the secretary general to ‘bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security’. Kashmir is no longer the bilateral issue, mass violence and insecurity among the Kashmiris is giving birth to the new version of Hobbesian Anarchy in the occupied territory of Kashmir which will ultimately effect global peace, stability and security[10].

Although, R2P is not binding and carries a normative status, the significance of norms and precedence and customary law cannot be ignored in the continuously changing international system, where human rights regime has become central to state affairs. India is the sole perpetrator of mass killing in Kashmir and the world know this, Sooner or latter this political tussle will bow down towards humanity and abusive conditions of Kashmir will come to an end or simply it will be another failure of United Nations Security Council.

Protection from violence and mass suffering is the core principle of United Nations. It is acting as custodians and guardians of states as well as individuals on every corner of this world. But Why it is silent of Kashmir issue? How long will it take for Kashmiris to attain independence? Is there even a final solution for Kashmir? Was Kashmir, like Palestine, a blunder of British colonizers? Has India backed down on its promises on Kashmir? Is Kashmir the integral part of India? Will there ever be a fair democratic election? Will Kashmiris ever practice the right to self-determination?

In short, will Kashmir ever exist?


[1] John Baylis, The Globalization of world Politics. 2009, P.387

[2] Complex emergencies , David Keen,2013.p54

[3] Hoffman Brown, The rule of Sovereignty.2011, p.23

[4] Dan Cruise, The Indian politics in disputed Kashnmir.2019, p.3

[5]  UNGA 2019 Session.

[6] Self Determination in Kashmir,2009.p.113

[7]  Fareed Zakaria, Hard talks, CNN.2015

[8] Patricia Owens,The Hard Politics of Military.2012.p231

[9] Kashmir and nuclear rivalry by Eric Bolwdin. P.22,

[10] Anarchy and crisis In Kashmir Amit Roi.2008,p.267

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South Asia

The World Biggest COVID-19 Crisis: Failure of India’s Vaccine Diplomacy

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Health workers pose with a vial of COVID-19 vaccine after receiving their shots at a hospital in India. UNICEF/Vinay Panjwani

As over 100 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated and the world’s daily count of new cases is falling, India faces healthcare system collapse as a second coronavirus wave is devastating. In accordance with the recent statistics of the WHO, in the past week approximately 2 million new confirmed cases were reported worldwide – almost half were from India. Interestingly, India is one of the main producers and exporters of coronavirus vaccines in the world and since mid-January, the federal government has approved a British-made Oxford-AstraZeneca, and a locally developed– a national pride Covaxin (both are being produced in India) for the massive immunization drive that has set the ambitious goal of fully immunizing 300 million people, particularly healthcare workers by the end of summer. Meanwhile, India had initially been planning to set the world record for mass vaccination but they ended up with the world record coronavirus cases, surpassing 400.000 daily COVID-19 cases for the first time.

The development and deployment of an effective and safe vaccine against the coronavirus was a key pillar in the authority’s current strategy to break down the chain of transmission. However, despite a promising start of a vaccination campaign at the beginning of this year, one of the largest immunization programs across the globe, it turns out there is not a sufficient amount of vaccine supplies in a number of states across the country. As cases continue to surge, many across the country have rushed to register for shots but most states are running out of doses and a large number of vaccination centers across India turned away people due to chronic shortages or complete lack of availability of jabs. While India is one of the major producers of COVID-19 vaccines with a monthly capacity of 70 million doses, now forced to import jabs, as local manufacturing facilities are facing challenges to meet growing demand. As India’s expansion of its immunization campaign has been failing badly, it makes a disastrous situation even worse. On the other hand, the current devastation leads to a depression in global vaccine supply and consequently, it hits the low and middle-income countries, as they rely on the Indian pharmaceutical industry.

The second devastating wave was hitting the country since mid-April and apparently, India’s poorly funded public healthcare system is not capable enough to overcome the world’s largest surge in COVID cases. Health facilities overwhelmed as infection rates explode; therefore, many hospitals in the large cities already suspended admitting even the critically ill coronavirus patients as all beds were full and medical equipment, particularly oxygen concentrators, ICU beds, test kits, PPEs and ventilators in short supply, while corpses pile up at morgues and crematoriums. As a death toll rises sharply, additional crematoriums are being built in order to deal with the grim situation, especially in the hardest-hit cities and states. Furthermore, in the midst of a big surge Indian government also launched a vaccination drive for anyone over the age of 18 starting 1st of May.  Ironically, along with China and Russia, India was a country that had begun exporting home-grownCOVID-19 vaccine doses to foreign countries, but only less than 3% of its population has been fully vaccinated so far. During a global pandemic, thanks to its massive production capacity, India actively donated locally produced Coronavirus vaccines to the Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern and African low and middle-income nations under the “Vaccine Friendship” program. The initiative was launched in early 2021 and it sought to promote cooperation and cement ties by distributing a dozen of jabs through the Vaccine Diplomacy. In reality, in the battle to gain political influence across the developing world, India shipped millions of doses to poorer countries before managing to secure an adequate amount of vaccines for its own people.

India’s infections keep surging due to the unavailability of medical resources and thus the crisis also affecting the global vaccine and medical supply chains, as over 40 countries, including Russia, European Union, China and the United States and numerous international charities are proactively providing a range of humanitarian aid and emergency assistance.

Many events marking religious festivals and cultural events across the world have been banned because of Coronavirus; on the contrary, despite the high risks of infection several crowded religious festivals and gatherings have been taking place in India’s various holy sites and places of worship with a thousand of unmasked pilgrims and devotees. Additionally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s total23campaign rallies that brought tens of thousands of incautious supporters together caused the spike in coronavirus cases. Hence, the federal government acted reluctantly to impose major restrictions for containing the virus by relying on local authorities to take action.

Indeed, India is the third country with over130 million doses administrated in the world, the highest figure just behind the United States and China respectively, but even the large-scale vaccination process was insufficient to prevent the second wave for a population of more than 1.3 billion people. Although international flights are being suspended to and from India by many governments, a more transmissible India COVID variant, formally known as B.1.617has already been detected in multiple countries and territories worldwide. India’s COVID -19 crisis warns that the risk of infection remains high and many countries could face a strong resurgence of COVID-19similar to India. Health experts concern that a new and more contagious strain spreads more easily and it could even evade vaccines. The current outbreak shows that every country remains vulnerable and could find itself in dire straits unless the adaptation and implementation of strict anti-pandemic measures and policies. However, strengthening the public health system, enhancing safety protocols and sanitary measures, ensuring transparency and accountability, and initiating a successful immunization campaign will be seemingly crucial to combat the pandemic, otherwise, a similar crisis could soon become a common tragedy for the entire world in the foreseeable future.

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Pakistan desires dialogue and cooperation with the EU

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Renew Europe, a liberal, pro-European political group of the European Parliament, presented a resolution and was passed by the EU by an overwhelming majority of 681 votes against six only. Extremist, racist groups influence the EU. No doubt, the whole world is suffering from intolerance and extremism. There are many racist movements in America and Europe too.

Pakistan being an open and democratic country, enjoys total freedom of expression to its citizen. There must be diverse voices within Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan is a parliamentary system. All matters are discussed in the parliament, which is responsible for building consensus on all crucial issues and addressing the concerns of all groups, factions, parties, minorities, etc.

Historically, Pakistan was a very tolerant and peace-loving, balanced society, but during the 1980s war in Afghanistan, Pakistan was radicalized by design. The western world deliberately promoted intolerance, religious extremist, and terrorism. Almost all intelligence agencies of the leading Western World were engaged in Pakistan for arming, training, and inspiring youth for Jihad in Afghanistan. These international intelligence agencies collected radical individuals from all over the world and concentrated them in Pakistan to launch Jihad in Afghanistan; Many terrorist organizations were created by them in the whole Muslim world, was either, Mujahideen, Taliban, Daesh, Al-Qaida, or ISIS, Boko-Haram, or any other militant group, was the creation of Western World and used for particular objectives. After achieving their goals, they banned them and kept their distance from them. And she was now blaming them for terrorism, Unfortunate!

 Pakistan was a close ally of the US, NATO, and Europe (Western World), an essential front-line state in the Afghan war, and a non-NATO ally in the war on terror.  Pakistan suffered extremism, intolerance, terrorism, gun culture, and drug culture, promoted by the Western world. Pakistan is a victim state. 

The visionary leadership in Pakistan is very much clear about the situation and determined to establish the rit of government while staying within the democratic values of our system. The recent unrest in Pakistan was a domestic issue, just like in many parts of Europe and America. The incident of Capitol Hill, Killing of Gorge Floyd, and followed continued protests and demonstrations in America; agitations, demonstrations in many parts of Europe are witnessed often, it is believed that all governments are trying to resolve their domestic issues within their Constitution. There was no external pressure on either of these governments. It is expected that let Pakistan overcome its domestic crisis, and the capable Government of PM Imran Khan has already resolved the issue amicably.

Under this scenario, the adoption of a resolution by the EU is not appreciated and, in fact, has hurt the feeling of ordinary Pakistani. It reflects the bias of EU only. A resolution presented by the extremist group should not be the voice of the whole EU. Trust, there must be many reasonable, moderate, and unbiased members in the  EU parliament who think logically and rationally. The adoption of such a resolution is totally irrational, irresponsible, and against the globalization spirit.

While Pakistan is engaged to clear the mess created by Western World and almost near to succeed entirely, there is a dire need for International support, and coercion may not be fruitful at this critical moment. It is hoped that the EU may re-consider the resolution and revert it immediately. All peace-loving parliamentarians in the EU are appealed to think rationally and logically to promote international cooperation and understanding to defeat intolerance, bais, extremist, terrorism and turn the whole world into a better place to live and gift our next generation peace, stability, harmony, and prosperity.

However, Islamophobia is an international phenomenon in recent decades all over the Western World. The Prime Minister of Pakistan mentioned it in his speech at the United Nations General assembly (UNGA) last year. A similar resolution was also passed in the OIC. The whole Muslim World is worried and unhappy over blasphemy in the few western countries. There were protests and demonstrations by Muslims all over the world, with various intensities. At the same time, Muslims respect other religions and deserve to reciprocate respect for Islam.

The federal government in Pakistan has decided to address the European Parliament’s reservations after the body had called for an appraisal of Pakistan’s GSP Plus status. The development came after Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting involving senior ministers of the cabinet. It was called in response to a resolution approved by the European Parliament a few days ago, calling for an assessment of Pakistan’s GSP Plus status. The premier stressed the government would not compromise on the laws about the finality of the Prophethood. The participants, during the meeting, decided to address the reservations of the European Union. It was also unanimously agreed that the protection of minorities in the country would be ensured. The participants believed the GSP Plus trade agreement has nothing to with blasphemy laws.

In response to the European Parliament’s resolution, the Foreign Office had expressed disappointment over the development.”The discourse in the European Parliament reflects a lack of understanding in the context of blasphemy laws and associated religious sensitivities in Pakistan – and the wider Muslim world. The unwarranted commentary about Pakistan’s judicial system and domestic laws are regrettable,” read a statement by the FO.

“Pakistan is a parliamentary democracy with a vibrant civil society, free media, and independent judiciary, which remains fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights for all its citizens without discrimination,” the Foreign Office had added.

The FO had emphasized that Pakistan is proud of its minorities who enjoy equal rights and complete protection of fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution. Judicial and administrative mechanisms and remedies are in place to guard against any human rights violations.

“Pakistan has played an active role in promoting freedom of religion or belief, tolerance, and inter-faith harmony. At a time of rising Islamophobia and populism, the international community must exhibit a common resolve to fight xenophobia, intolerance, and incitement to violence based on religion or belief and work together to strengthen peaceful co-existence.”

There exist multiple mechanisms in place between Pakistan and the EU to discuss the all-inclusive spectrum of bilateral relations, including a devoted Dialogue on Democracy, Rule of Law, Governance, and Human Rights. Pakistan would continue to remain definitely engaged with the EU on all issues of mutual interest. Pakistan believes in dialogue under the charter of the UN. Pakistan desires an early dialogue and settlement of all differences amicably. Any unilateral decision may not be fruitful to either side. It is time to strengthen our ties and mutual support. Only by collective efforts may we turn this universe into a better place to live for humankind. Pakistan assures its best possible cooperation at all times and awaits reciprocity from the EU.

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Religion Freedom Index of Bangladesh: Current Developments and Government Responses

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Pope Francis joins in prayers led by a Rohingya Muslim man at an inter-religious conference at St Mary’s Cathedral in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on December 1, 2017. Mohammad Ponir Hossain / Reuters

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) recently published its annual Religious Freedom in the World 2021 Report (RFR) that scrutinizes the situation for all major religion groups in 196 countries across the world. The report found that, over the past two years, oppression against susceptible faith communities has augmented in all but one of the 26 countries listed in the survey’s worst (‘red’) category. Bangladesh is that only country whose position on the red list of religious persecution remains unchanged.

The annual report says that religious freedom is being undermined in one out of every three countries in the world which composed two-thirds of the world population. 62 countries out of a total of 196 face severe violations of religious freedom. The situation of minorities in India and Pakistan is deteriorating further. The situation in China and Myanmar is the worst. According to the report, the situation is worse in 95 percent of the 26 countries where persecution is taking place. Nine new countries have been included in this list- seven from Africa and two from Asia.

The report on Bangladesh says that the torture of minorities has not increased in recent years but the influence of Islamic groups is increasing in the politics of Bangladesh. However, the government has been successful in subdue the influence and maintaining religious freedom. For instance, after the rise of Islam-fabric politicization leading by “Hefazat-e-Islam”, the top leaders and at least 375 people nabbed for their recent violent activities. The strict position of law enforcement agencies against the rampage of the group denotes the zero-tolerance of Bangladesh government in ensuring religious freedom and upholding “secularism” which is one of the state principals of its constitution. The argument can be evident with the recent report of the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) titled, “Bangladesh and Pakistan: acting against extremism versus making a show of acting against extremism”. Highlighting the activities of the Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam (HIB) in Bangladesh and the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) in Pakistan, the report comments that Bangladesh government has been making “noticeable progress in dealing with the radical Islamist HIB whereas Pakistan has floundered dramatically in its inconsistent, ill-considered and ill-implemented attempts to pacify the TLP”. Besides, the initiatives of the Bangladesh government in protecting the minority rights are so much praiseworthy.

According to the 2019 Report on International Religious Freedom of US Department of State, to advocate the minority rights and to foster religious tolerance, Bangladesh government has taken a number of initiatives such as-

•Providing guidance to imams throughout the country to prevent militancy and monitoring mosques for “provocative messaging”.

•Deploying law enforcement personnel at religious sites, festivals, and events considering potential violence. The Economic Times reported that 30,000 and 31,272Durga Pujas were organized across the country in 2017 and 2018 respectively without any security issue.

•Zero-tolerance to Islamic militancy. For instance, Special Tribunal convicted and sentenced to death seven of eight defendants who were accused in the 2016 killings of 22 mostly non-Muslim individuals at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka.

•Offering stipends to students from the minority groups in the primary and secondary level; and

•Providing funds for minority rituals and social activities.

Most importantly, Bangladesh ensures a level playing field in the employment sectors and a viable people-to-people contact. ‘Dhormo Jaar Jaar, Utsob Shobar,’ (Religion for own, but festivals for all” is a testimony of its secular values and communal harmony. The ACN report itself showed, in Bangladesh, where due to fear of infection, minority faith groups were incapable of offering the last rites to family members, an Islamic charity buried not only Muslim but also Hindu and Christian victims of COVID-19. Besides, reliefs were equally provided to every sector of the society regardless of their race or religion.

To conclude, Bangladesh always believes in fraternity beyond ethno-religious affiliations and practiced secularism in daily life throughout the history. But at present, due to the rise of right-wing populist politics both at regional and global level and rise of fundamentalism, religious harmony in Bangladesh is also affected. However, comparatively, Bangladesh is doing better than many regional states and the country is destined to overcome the challenges in near future due to the pro-active role of the government in this regard.

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