Kashmir is caught up in one of the world’s longest outstanding international conflicts.
Canada has a long history in regard to Kashmir.
In 1948, the people of Kashmir were promised a plebiscite to determine their own future in UN Security Council Resolution 47. Canada’s UN representative Andrew McNaughton took the lead in this resolution as president of the UN Security Council at that time.
Canada’s first peacekeeping mission, even before the implementation of the UN official system, occurred in 1948 in Kashmir.
Over seven decades later Kashmir remains internationally disputed territory.
Since August 5, 2019, India has illegally annexed the territory, downgraded its status and put the Valley of Kashmir under siege. The world’s most militarized zone is under a serious threat of demographic change that is aimed at altering the final resolution of the disputed territory.
With the introduction of the new domicile law by the government of India on March 31, 2020, the project of intentional demographic change, in clear violation of international law, is underway. There is urgency for the international community to intervene as the Indian government claims it has already issued close to two million Domicile certificates to non-Kashmiris, a step that has grave implications for the final resolution of the issue of Kashmir.
Despite this, Canada has remained troublingly silent about Kashmir, although three petitions, by Liberal MP Yasmin Ratansi, NDP MP Scott Duvall and Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu were presented recently in Parliament.
Twenty-five Canadian civil society organizations hosted a public forum on October 22 to consider Canada’s policy in regard to Kashmir.
The session included a stellar lineup of lawyers, academics, authors and activists, and offered an overview of the long-standing conflict, which India’s current Hindu nationalist government has escalated.
The panel explored the history of the conflict in light of international law; human rights situation and issues of impunity; Hindu nationalism project and the colonization of Kashmir; geopolitical perspectives in light of China’s involvement; and accountability and India foreign policy.
Guest speakers included Haley Duschinski, associate professor of anthropology and graduate director of the Center for Law, Justice and Culture at Ohio University. She discussed human rights, militarization, impunity and the ongoing siege of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
Other panelists included attorney Imraan Mir, co-founder of the Kashmir Law and Justice Project, Malavika Kasturi, associate professor of South Asian history at the University of Toronto, Siddiq Wahid, scholar-in-residence at the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory at Shiv Nadar University, and Azeezah Kanji, a legal and academic writer.
A recording of the forum can be watched here.
Karen Rodman is director of Just Peace Advocates, a Canadian based international human rights organization.