'Pakistan should seek voting at UN General Assembly'

Published: September 12, 2019
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ISLAMABAD: The legal experts have urged the Pakistani government to seek a vote at the upcoming session of UN General Assembly on Kashmir for referring to International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its advisory capacity.

In a written statement issued on Wednesday, renowned Pakistani lawyer Akram Sheikh opined that Pakistan should adopt a multi-pronged approach to benefit the oppressed Kashmiri people as the world was responsive to the Kashmir plight after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unilateral action.

Sheikh said that only in February this year, the International Court of Justice gave a landmark judgment in which it was held, that the process of decolonization of Mauritius in 1965 was not properly done and the agreement between the United Kingdom and Mauritius for the Chagos Archipelago did not consider the will of people of Chagos as per the UN Charter.

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The dispute spanning over 50 years was adjudicated by ICJ, after UN Secretary-General referred the issue to it as a consequence of the UN General Assembly adopting a Resolution to this effect (Resolution number 71/292) on 22 June 2017.

The Chagos Archipelago went under UK control in 1966 under a 50-year agreement with Mauritius, which ended in December 2016 and was extended for another 20 years.

During this period, the people of Chagos Archipelago were forcibly evicted from their land and went into exile in other countries but kept on fighting for their right of self-determination.

USA had taken the Chagos Archipelago from the UK under some agreement and made the famous military base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

The ICJ in its landmark judgment considered all relevant UN General Assembly resolutions, support of African Union and its resolutions, jurisdiction in a dispute when two states are involved, various principles regarding the right of self-determination besides a host of other legal issues.

Sheikh firmly believes that Pakistan should immediately launch a diplomatic offensive to press for Kashmiris right of self-determination and move a Resolution in UN General Assembly seeking reference to ICJ in its advisory jurisdiction.

He believes that given the global awareness at present on Kashmir issue, it will be easy to get the resolution adopted with a simple majority. At the same time, Pakistan government should keep on pressing the issue of human rights violations at UNHRC who has already issued two reports on Kashmiri human rights violations by India and is likely to take a tough stance during its present session in Geneva against India, he added.

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“In February, 2019 when I was in Hague to observe hearing of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case, ICJ gave its opinion in its advisory jurisdiction relating to a question of law which was referred to it by General Assembly of UN in respect of “legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965″. ICJ gave its opinion on 25.2.2019 with its absolute majority in favour of Chagos Archipelago and against the United Kingdom. Interestingly, the facts of the said case are very similar to the Jammu & Kashmir’s controversy between Pakistan and India.”

Sheikh said that he has been closely analysing many other judgments of ICJ in the last few years and has not come across a single incident where the ICJ had refused to exercise its advisory jurisdiction, if question of law is referred to it by the General Assembly.

“I am very much convinced that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, while its expected address to the General Assembly of UN to strongly emphasise that the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir be referred to ICJ for rendering its opinion. In my humble opinion, Pakistan should move the resolution before the General Assembly and it would not be very difficult for Pakistan to get 51% votes to getting the resolution passed to refer the Kashmir issue to ICJ in its advisory jurisdiction. This could be the best possible utilisation of time spent at the General Assembly, and it is very likely that the world forces would surely be inclined for the desired referral, as Pakistan’s case against suppression of Kashmiri people is very strong”

Sheikh further said that the ICJ is empowered to take all appropriate measures to speed up the proceedings, if urgency is shown by the General Assembly.

Even otherwise, it should not take more than 6 to 12 months to get ICJ’s opinion on the issue. Meanwhile, Pakistan can highlight the issue at all diplomatic forums from time to time.

Despite the fact that ICJ’s opinion does not have a binding force for the General Assembly but it carries a great legal weight and moral authority.

Therefore, the same can be used to pressurise India to resolve the issue with the support of General Assembly, he added.

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