Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has said that Pakistan and AJK are ready to welcome and facilitate international fact-finding missions to Azad Kashmir. “Unlike India, we have nothing to hide and we want them to see for themselves the steps being taken in Azad Kashmir for ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights and human dignity.”, he said.
The President made these remarks while addressing a media briefing along with a delegation of visiting Members of European Parliament (MEP), here at Jammu and Kashmir House. The delegation included MEP Wajid Khan (UK), MEP Julie Ward (UK) and MEP Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski (Poland). Sehrish Qamar, Member AJK Legislative Assembly, and Raja Najabat Hussain, Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Self Determination Movement Europe were also present at the press meet.
The President in his opening remarks commended the resolute and committed efforts of both MEP Julie Ward and MEP Wajid Khan in helping effectively raise the issue of Kashmir in the European Parliament. He said that the people of Kashmir are being subjected to unimaginable human rights violations by the Indian occupation forces.
President Masood Khan said that the recently released report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has comprehensively highlighted massive human rights violations taking place in IOK. He said that the report points to numerous incidents of torture, killings, sexual violence, arbitrary arrests and mass graves. “The efforts of the OHCHR are commendable despite the fact they were not provided access to IOK by the Indian government and they instead had to rely on testimonies and had to remotely monitor the occupied territory.”, said the President.
The governments of Pakistan and AJK, he said, would welcome independent fact-finding teams to freely visit Azad Kashmir and see for themselves the situation on the ground. He said that AJK is rapidly moving towards soci0-economic stability by promoting development, education, health and the rule of justice. He added that Azad Kashmir boasts of the highest literacy rate and the lowest crime rate in all of Pakistan. This, he said, speaks volumes of the priorities of the AJK Government.
Wajid Khan MEP while commending the efforts of the President towards highlighting the human rights abuses in IOK, said that it is our collective responsibility to stop injustice and human rights violations. He said that the European Parliament has formally agreed to initiate a hearing on the human rights violations in IOK. He added that this was a historic step as now the European Union has officially recognised Jammu and Kashmir as an international conflict.
Julie Ward MEP expressed her grave concern over the human rights violations taking place in IOK, especially the sexual abuses being perpetrated against innocent women and girls. The rape and murder of 8-year-old Asifa Bano was a disturbing incident which had shocked the world, she said.
The President in his closing remarks said that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is not a bilateral matter. We want international organizations, parliaments and forums to help take up the issue of Kashmir and ascertain the Kashmiris their right to self-determination; as bilateral talks have yielded no results, he said.
President Masood Khan also invited the visiting MEPs to AJK and witness the steps being taken to promote economic activity, justice, good governance and human development.
Welfare of the people our priority: Masood Khan
Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has said that our government will strive towards serving the public and make every resource available for the welfare of the people of Azad Kashmir.
The President made these remarks while meeting the newly appointed Advisors to President AJK, Ijaz Yousef and Sardar Zahid Aziz Mughal who called on the President here at Jammu and Kashmir House.
The President while congratulating them on their appointment expressed the hope that they will work for the welfare of the people and urged them to actively assist the Presidency and the AJK Government in the development of Azad Kashmir.
The President said that our focus will be towards the welfare of the downtrodden. He also advised them to bring forward proposals and explore projects for promoting development, road infrastructure, education, water schemes, health and tourism. He added that steps be taken to strengthen the private sector and help boost job opportunities for the public.
President Masood Khan also advised them to acquaint themselves with the local issues faced by the general public and help resolve their issues. He added that concerted efforts be adopted to help address the issues of the destitute.
Afterwards, newly appointed Duty Officer Wajih-ul-Islam and Public Relation Officer Waseem Aashiq also called on the President. Welcoming both the officers, the President advised them to discharge their duties with responsibility.