June 21, 1995 - Issue: Vol. 141, No. 102 — Daily Edition104th Congress (1995 - 1996) - 1st Session
SENATE RESOLUTION 138--RELATIVE TO THE CONFLICT IN KASHMIR; Congressional Record Vol. 141, No. 102
(Senate - June 21, 1995)
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[Pages S8825-S8826] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] SENATE RESOLUTION 138--RELATIVE TO THE CONFLICT IN KASHMIR Mr. HELMS (for himself, Mr. Leahy, and Mr. Reid) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations: S. Res. 138 Whereas U.S. policy calls for a solution to the conflict in Kashmir through negotiations between India and Pakistan taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people to choose legitimate representatives to negotiate on their behalf; Whereas India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir and tensions in the region remain high; Whereas both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons programs and possess sophisticated means to deliver such weapons; Whereas reports indicate widespread human rights abuses in Kashmir, resulting from the excessive use of force by Indian military and paramilitary forces and acts of violence by Kashmiri militants; Whereas the Indian parliament did not renew the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Act, thereby improving prospects for the rule of law in Kashmir; Whereas the All Parties Hurriyet (Freedom) Conference was organized to engage in negotiations with Indian and Pakistani authorities without precondition; Whereas in January 1994 the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) brought together representatives from India, Pakistan and Kashmir to engage in a dialogue for peace; Whereas the USIP concluded that, ``It is essential that people of Jammu and Kashmir be central participants in this political process, along with the governments and citizens of India and Pakistan.'' Whereas the recent destruction of the mosque and the razing of the town of Charar-i-Sharief in Kashmir have reinforced the urgent need for such a dialogue; Resolved, That the Senate-- (1) condemns the use of excessive force by Indian military and paramilitary forces in Kashmir and similarly condemns acts of violence by Kashmiri militants; (2) welcomes the release from detention of Kashmiri political leaders and urges that the government of India take further steps to respond to human rights concerns, including: Prosecuting security personnel involved in abuses of human rights; Permitting international human rights groups such as Amnesty International access to Kashmir; and Permitting international humanitarian groups access to detention and interrogation centers in Kashmir; (3) welcomes the expiration of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act and urges the government of India to take further steps to safeguard the Kashmiri people's right to due process; (4) welcomes steps taken by the government of Pakistan to reduce its support for Kashmiri militants, and urges the government of Pakistan to take further steps, including using its influence with private Pakistani sources, to stop the acts of intimidation and violence by Kashmiri militants; (5) calls on the governments of India and Pakistan to enter into negotiations with legitimate representatives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to resolve the conflict peacefully; (6) urges the Administration to work to facilitate negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Kashmir. Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, I send a resolution to the desk for appropriate referral. It addresses the precarious situation growing out of two nuclear-armed nations facing each other on the South Asian subcontinent. During the past 50 years, the two nations have gone to war twice, and barely avoided doing so again in 1990. The dispute over the State of Kashmir continues to fester, and India and Pakistan are nowhere near resolving their differences. Kashmir could easily ignite a nuclear conflagration, and it would be difficult to imagine a greater interest by the United States than preventing such a terrifying tragedy. Mr. President, exacerbating the tensions in the region is a pattern of gross violations of the Kashmiri people's basic human rights. More than 20,000 Kashmiris have been killed in the past 6 years, and the people of Kashmir continue to endure daily abuses, most often at the hands of the Indian Army and security forces. The State Department's 1994 Report on Human Rights lists ``extrajudicial executions, torture and reprisal killings'' as common tactics used by Indian Government forces. Only last month, Mr. President, a battle between militants and Indian troops in the town of Charar-i-Sharief started a fire that destroyed 1,000 homes, and a 600-year-old mosque that is Kashmir's most important Moslem shrine. The blaze also displaced nearly 25,000 people. The resolution Senator Leahy, Reid, and I are offering speaks directly to the very serious issues that confront the people of Kashmir. It decries human rights abuses perpetrated by both Indian security forces and Moslem militants. It also speaks to the root of the threat to South Asia and to the United States--the failure to negotiate a settlement to the Kashmiri dispute. Since 1972, India and Pakistan have worked through the Simla framework: bilateral negotiations to resolve bilateral problems, including Kashmir. After 23 years, it is time to admit failure. Negotiations will not succeed without the involvement of the Kashmiri people. The resolution that Senator Leahy and I are introducing today asks that the Kashmiri people, through the peaceful voice of their Hurriyet Council, be represented in any negotiations on the future of Kashmir. Kashmir must not be ignored; it will come back to haunt us all. I urge Senators to support not only this resolution, but more importantly, this cause. Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I rise in support of the resolution on Kashmir submitted today by Senator Helms, which I am cosponsoring along with Senator Reid. The situation in Kashmir has been a continuing concern of mine for many years. I am a friend of India, a country of nearly a billion people with great cultural and religious diversity and a myriad of problems. I have long believed that the United States and India have a tremendous amount to gain from closer relations. But I have been very disturbed by the excessive use of force by India's security forces in Kashmir, which has resulted in the detention, torture, and death of thousands of civilians. I am also very disturbed by the Pakistan Government's continuing assistance to the Kashmiri militants who have also been guilty of atrocities. I am cosponsoring this resolution because I believe it is balanced, and because I believe the recommendations it contains are in the interests of India and Pakistan, and the Kashmiri people. It condemns acts of violence by both the Indian security forces and Kashmiri militants, and it welcomes the decision of the Indian Government to release Kashmiri political leaders who had been imprisoned. Further, it urges the Indian Government to respond to continuing human [[Page S 8826]] rights violations in Kashmir. Specifically, the resolution calls for prosecution of those responsible for human rights violations, since far too often those implicated in abuses have gone unpunished, and it requests the Indian Government to permit international human rights and humanitarian groups access to Kashmir. This is long overdue. In addition, the resolution recognizes the Pakistani Government's efforts to reduce its support for Kashmiri militants, and calls on the Pakistani Government to take further steps including using its influence with private Pakistani sources to stop the acts of intimidation and violence by Kashmiri militants. A recent report by the Arms Project of Human Rights Watch described the flow of military assistance from Pakistan that has contributed to the violence and bloodshed in Kashmir. The resolution does not express a position on what the future status of Kashmir should be. Rather, we urge the Indian and Pakistani Governments to enter into negotiations with legitimate representatives of Jammu and Kashmir in order to resolve the conflict in a peaceful manner. It is widely recognized that there is no military solution to the Kashmir conflict. It is long past time that the various parties with an interest in the future of Kashmir engaged in a serious dialogue to end the violence. Mr. President, this is a balanced resolution that seeks to encourage and support a search for peace in Kashmir, and I want to thank the Senator from South Carolina, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, for the constructive role he played in the drafting of the resolution. Our goal is to diffuse tensions in a dangerous region and to help resolve a bloody conflict that has caused enormous suffering over many years. The resolution should pass unanimously. ____________________