The Kashmir conflict – Malaysia’s silence deafening

Malaysia should consider appointing special envoy on Islamophobia and the prevention of conflicts 

Pic by AFP

FOR more than seven decades, three generations of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir have suffered one of the largest occupations on earth. Over 100,000 Kashmiris have lost their lives and almost 10,000 people have disappeared. 

Gross violation of human rights — including kidnappings, the killing of civilians and sexual violence — were reported in Kashmir by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) in 2018 and 2019. 

During a US congressional briefing last month, Gregory Stanton, the founder and director of Genocide Watch, warned that there were early “signs and processes” of genocide in the Indian-administered Kashmir, drawing parallels between the policies pursued by the Indian government and the discriminatory policies of Myanmar’s government against Rohingya Muslims in 2017. 

The Kashmir crisis is a threat to the rulesbased international system and undermines the authority of the UN. Multiple UN Security Council resolutions dating back to the 1940s and 1950s have been blatantly ignored by India. 

While the UN cannot impose a solution on India and Pakistan, it can and should be committed to help broker a political solution to the crisis. The UN should pursue what Pakistan and India had started 19 years ago. 

In 2003, the then President Pervez Musharraf, formulated a four-step approach to a political solution, which is to recognise Kashmir as the main source of bilateral hostility; identify and eliminate what was unacceptable to each side; and strive for a solution acceptable to both countries, especially to the people of Kashmir. 

At that time, a ceasefire was declared and high-level meetings between the two governments took place. Unfortunately, following a terrorist attack, India terminated the talks. 

In 2012, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tried to revive the initiative, but the efforts were not successful.

With the myriad of security challenges facing the world, it is difficult to garner the attention of the international community on Kashmir. But ignoring the conflict is not an option, especially when both countries possess nuclear capabilities. 

It is the duty of the UN to advance a political solution to the crisis and every effort must be made to pressure the UN secretary general to appoint a special envoy on Kashmir. 

Recently, Malaysia was elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council for 2022 to 2024. 

With the mandate given to sit in the Council, Malaysia should make advancing the global human rights agenda its priority. 

Malaysia could use its position in the UN Human Rights Council to address human rights concerns in Kashmir. Our foreign policy can no longer isolate human rights and issues affecting the ummah from its key strategies. 

Thus, Malaysia’s consistent and steadfast stance on Kashmir’s conflict is crucial. Being a good friend of India does not mean that it cannot pursue an independent, active and moral foreign policy. 

The prime minister should also seriously consider appointing his special envoy on Islamophobia and the prevention of conflicts as part of Malaysia’s global initiative in addressing conflicts affecting the ummah and discrimination against the Muslims. 

His envoy should then work with likeminded countries and the UN in charting a roadmap for a political solution between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. 

Such a strategy would give Malaysia a more universal ground in addressing the conflict as it would not be mixed under the rubrics of bilateral relations between Malaysia and India. 

  • Dr Abdul Razak Ahmad
    Founding director of Bait Al Amanah, an independent research institute that promotes policy and decision-making through sound, independent and multidisciplinary analysis in areas of governance and democracy, economics, security and issues of national importance 

The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the newspaper’s owners and editorial board.