Two high-profile visits to Kashmir, by Jhon McCanin and Margaret Sekaggay, this past year were a display of how differently states and multilateral bodies look at the embattled region.
Massive tourist influx notwithstanding, Kashmir had two special guests, one from United Nations and another from United States of America. Both the visits were firsts of their kinds. Margaret Sekaggay is a first Special Rapporteur from United Nations to review Human Rights situation in India and John McCain is the highest US dignitary who visited Kashmir in past two decades.
Margaret Sekaggay visited Kashmir in January. She had come here on invitation of the Government of India to review the prevailing situation of Human rights scenario in Kashmir. She was in India on a 10-day visit.
This was the first time Indian Government has given permission a special Rapporteur to study the human rights situation in the country, though UN has been seeking permission since 2001. Sekaggay is a lawyer and a former judge of a high court of Uganda.
Apart from meeting the families of summer unrest victims and families of Shopian alleged rape and murder victims, she met Parveena Ahanger of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, Pervez Imroz of JK Coalition of Civil Society and members of bar association as well besides government authorities.
Sekaggay also suggested repeal of AFSPA and PSA, the laws that were applied arbitrarily at state and national levels in Kashmir and in Northeastern territories of India.
Acknowledging the security challenges faced by India, Sekaggay said people and their basic rights should be given deserved importance and should not be ignored.
The second visit happened in January in the backdrop of arrest of Ghulam Nabi Fai, analleged ISI agent in America. It was the visit of John McCain, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, in August. McCain was a US republican presidential candidate who was defeated by Obama.
Here he met the Governor, the Chief Minister and some top army commanders but ignored everyone else of consequence. The official meetings discussed security, infiltration, terrorism and situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan said the media reports.
McCain came to Kashmir after a three day visit to Pakistan where he met the top political leadership including the President. After that he traveled to Delhi where he described India his country’s strategic partner and said he was encouraged to see peace and security returning to J&K. He however, said Kashmir was Indian’s internal affair.