OIC appoints special envoy to highlight Indian atrocities in Kashmir

In this December 17, 2018 file photo, an Indian policeman stands guard behind concertina wire laid across a road leading to the Indian army headquarters in Srinagar. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation appointed special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday to help resolve the decades-old conflict between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed powers, India and Pakistan. (Reuters)
Updated 03 June 2019

OIC appoints special envoy to highlight Indian atrocities in Kashmir

  • Kashmiri leaders urge special envoy to push for UN plebiscite in their region
  • Analysts say the envoy will be dealing with one of the most complex and challenging disputes

ISLAMABAD: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir can help resolve the decades-old conflict between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed neighbors – India and Pakistan – by projecting the Kashmir issue at various international forums and engaging all stakeholders in a meaningful dialogue to find a sustainable solution to the dispute, Kashmiri leaders and experts said on Sunday.
The OIC appointed Yousef Aldobeay of Saudi Arabia as its special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir, besides extending its support to the “legitimate right to self-determination” of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with United Nations resolutions.
Since 1947, Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region with 86,000 square miles of territory, remains disputed between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim it in full but only control parts of it. The two nations have also fought wars over the territory, but the dispute continues to linger on.
“We hope that the OIC special envoy [on Jammu and Kashmir] will support and highlight the legitimate and peaceful freedom struggle of Kashmiris at all international forums and expose Indian atrocities against them,” Mushaal Hussein Mullick, chairperson of the Peace and Culture Organization, told Arab News on Sunday.
She said that activists and freedom fighters in Kashmir had been asking Muslim countries for years to appoint a global envoy who could amplify their voice internationally, adding it was “encouraging to see it happen finally.”
“The position of the special envoy is very powerful because it has the backing of all Muslim countries … and it also goes beyond simple condemnations and news reports highlighting Indian violence against unarmed Kashmiris,” said Mullick, who is also the wife of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Yasin Malik.
A final communique of the 14th summit of the OIC held in Makkah called for the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to “investigate grave human rights violations [in Kashmir] and urged India to allow the Commission and other international organizations access to IoK [Indian occupied Kashmir],” Pakistan’s foreign office said on Saturday in a statement.
With 57 member states and a collective population of approximately 1.68 billion people, the OIC is the world’s second largest intergovernmental body after the United Nations.
“The OIC Summit gave a tremendous platform to Kashmir. We are lucky to have the world’s second largest multilateral organization take up the Kashmir conflict in such a robust way,” Ahmed Qureshi, a Kashmir affairs analyst, told Arab News.
Discussing the appointment of the OIC special envoy, he said that a difficult challenge awaited him as “he will be walking into one of the most difficult and protracted conflicts in the world today. But the good thing is that momentum exists and he can capitalize on it.”
Sardar Zaid Sajid, a Kashmiri human rights activist, also lauded the appointment, saying that the OIC focal person must try to resolve the conflict since it “poses a security threat to the whole world.”
“Both Pakistan and India are nuclear-armed countries and Kashmir conflict can trigger a deadly war between them anytime,” he warned, urging the special envoy to push the UN to hold plebiscite in Kashmir as per its resolutions.

India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

Updated 07 October 2019

India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

  • Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades

NEW DELHI: Ravish Kumar is nervous about the “danger that Indian democracy is facing today” and how “a systematic attempt is being made by the ruling establishment in Delhi to suppress all the dissenting voices in the country.

“Journalism prepares you to face the unknown everyday, so I was not really surprised when I got the call from the (Magsaysay) award committee,” Kumar said.

“The problem was that I was asked to keep it a secret until they had made a public announcement. It was painful to keep quiet for almost a month,” he told Arab News with a smile.

“When the news became public, I realized what I had been bestowed with. I feel the award is a vindication of trust in good journalism. People felt as if the award had been bestowed on them,” he added.

It is this concern for democracy and its institutions that earned Kumar the prestigious Magsaysay award for 2019.

Instituted in 1957, it is awarded every year by the Philippine government in memory of its former president Ramon Magsaysay for “integrity in governance, courageous service to the people and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society.”

Kumar, who works as a managing editor of India’s leading bilingual TV channel, NDTV, has created a niche for himself in the world of journalism with his daily primetime show, which draws huge audiences from across India. 

At a time when most mainstream TV channels and newspapers have stopped questioning the government and challenging its narrative, Kumar’s reporting takes a critical approach to the lawmakers.

For this constant critique of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the government does not send any of its spokespersons on his show or the channel.

He laments that a large section of the Indian media has become “an extended arm of the government and the mouthpiece of the establishment.”

For his outspoken attitude, Kumar and his family have received threats from “people who are subsidized by the ruling party.”

“I don’t have any hope for the media. It is dead in the country. Just a few are holding the placard of fearless journalism,” he said, adding that “the death of independent media has affected true reporting from Jammu and Kashmir.

“The situation in the region is so bad that after the abrogation of its special status, even the significant moderate voices in India have been pushed to the militant camps,” he said.

Describing the government’s policy on Kashmir as “brazen,” he questioned the “audacity of the government to hold local body elections in the valley when there is a complete lockdown.

Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades, adding that he was aghast at the Supreme Court’s silence on the abrogation.

“Why is it taking so long for the apex court to intervene on the issue of the internet lockdown in the Kashmir valley? Can you imagine the American Supreme Court behaving the way the Indian judiciary is acting on such a crucial issue?” He asked.

He said that the decline of independent institutions such as the media, judiciary and election commission is gradually creating a democratic imbalance.

Kumar understands the award has given an extra responsibility on him and that he felt “burdened with expectations.” So great are those expectations, he has not ruled out entering politics.

“Politics is a good thing. I tell everyone to join politics,” he said, adding that his current responsibility is to “warn people about the danger that is lurking in Indian society.”