Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has said that we must realise that historically the core issue of conflict between Pakistan and India has remained the Kashmir issue. Pakistan and India, he said have fought four wars over Kashmir and till date the issue has remained unresolved.
The President made these comments while addressing the participants of the 20th National Security Workshop on the topic “Kashmir Dispute: Prospects for Resolution in Contemporary Geopolitical Environment” at the National Defence University.
The President while delivering his opening statement said that despite Pakistan’s commitment to resolving the Kashmir issue through diplomatic means and in the spirit of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, India has continuously rejected the UN decisions on Kashmir. Furthermore, he said, India rejects third-party mediation.
President Masood Khan said that India has maintained an aggressive posture of denying the Kashmiris their liberties, using brute force to kill, maim and torture innocent Kashmiris. The President drew the attention of the participants to the recent “Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir” report released by the British All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG) and the report published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHRC), which documents gross and consistent human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). He said that these reports along with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s report on Kashmir have relied on remote monitoring and do not describe the full extent of the atrocities.
The APPKG – whose members number over 70 British Parliamentarians – in its report has demanded the immediate repeal of the two draconian laws – Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act -, bring an end to the use of pellet guns, stop enforced disappearances and also recommends forensic investigation into the mass graves discovered all over IOK. Similar recommendations for the repeal of these ‘black laws’ have also been given in the OHCHR report, which also recommends the setting up of a Commission of Inquiry under the Human Rights Council (HRC).
India preferred modus operandi for the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is the use of force and military means. In addition, he said, in its attempts to gain the loyalty of Kashmiris India uses economic blandishments and incentives and has also raised and supported local political parties to legitimise its occupation in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that India’s machinations and manoeuvring also include propagating the false narrative of terrorism in IOK and attempting to diplomatically isolate Pakistan by using its alliances with western powers into forcing Pakistan to abandon the Kashmir issue. India uses its proxies to unleash proxy wars against Pakistan by carrying out acts of terrorism, all in an attempt to internally destabilise Pakistan. India resorts to these tactics to chastise Pakistan for its stand on Kashmir.
President AJK said that India has rendered the bilateral dialogue process unproductive as they have never been serious in addressing hardcore issues. He said that they use the guise of the dialogues as a smokescreen to maintain the status quo and bide time. Terming the bilateral talks held so far a farce, the President said that India has never been sincere, committed or consistent towards resolving the Kashmir issue through talks. India, he said, has relegated the Kashmir issue to a minor agenda item bringing it at par with minor issues like religious tourism.
President Khan said that Pakistan has always opted for a peaceful, amicable and longlasting resolution of the Kashmir issue. Over the decades Pakistan’s stance has been firmly anchored in the UN Security Council Resolutions allowing the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination through a free and fair plebiscite. He said Pakistan believes in structured, sustained and substantive dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue. He said the people of Kashmiris being a key party to the dispute must be made part of the dialogue process.
Concluding his remarks, the President urged that forging unity amongst our ranks and adopting a uniform stance on Kashmir by not giving into unilateral concessions. “Unity, uniformity in our stance and strong conviction would enhance the prospects of the Kashmiri struggle”, he said. The people of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir have been steadfast and we must not dilute the matter in any way. Furthermore, he said we should go back to the international community, UNSC, HRC, British Parliament, European Parliament and use diplomatic means to bring India to the dialogue table. He pressed on leveraging the strengths of our almost 9 million strong diaspora community who are now economically and politically active. He said that in the United Kingdom alone, we have 1.5 million diaspora community and we have 12 Member of Parliaments and over 4 lords of Kashmiri-Pakistani origin.
He also urged concentrating on efficient communication and using modern and traditional media in countering false Indian narrative and presenting a factual representation of the human rights violations taking place in IOK. He added that we have to strengthen our stance on Kashmir by making Pakistan politically, economically and diplomatically strong.
While responding to various questions from the participants the President said that inattention towards the Kashmir issue is due to the political and strategic interests of the world powers. He said that unfortunately realpolitik dictates diplomatic alliances and India has deluded the western powers into assuming that it can slow down China’s economic progress in the region.
The President said that we need not be intimidated by India’s economic might and we must continue our struggle with conviction and determination. He said that the people of Kashmir are fighting for freedom with their blood and we must honour their struggle. He said despite 71 years of false narrative propagated by India, it has not been able to bury the issue of Kashmir nor has been able to win the hearts and minds of the Kashmiris. The issue is still very much alive and he said it was an indication of Pakistan diplomatic success over the years. He said that even today slogans in favour of Pakistan echo throughout IOK.
The National Security Workshop was attended by senior civil and military officials, leading media personalities, members of parliament, legislative and provincial assembly.