Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan while expressing gratitude to the Chinese government for adopting a principled stand on Kashmir dispute has said that the concern expressed by Chinese foreign ministry from time to time over the worst human rights abuses by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir, boost the morale of the oppressed people.
Addressing a round-table meeting of Chinese diplomats at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) here, he also welcomed China’s offer of mediation between two rival nuclear powers of the region.
The meeting was also attended by ISSI Chairman Board of Governors Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, DG ISSI Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry, Mr Wang Xie, Political Attaché Embassy of China and other senior officials of ISSI.
Quoting former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who said, “If you love China, love Pakistan too”, the President added that “without a doubt Pakistan and China are iron brothers”
AJK President said that the relationship between Pakistan and China dates back seventy years and there is a deep emotional attachment between the people of China and Pakistan. “Leaders like Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong were household names in Pakistan and their passing was mourned in Pakistan”, he said, while informing the diplomats of the deep bond between the people of the two nations.
He said that both China and Pakistan believe in promoting global cooperation instead of confrontation. He said that a very evident example of this is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its flagship project – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The BRI, he said, is a transcontinental mega-project spanning almost 80 countries. He said that this $ 1 trillion transformative project – which easily dwarfs the Marshall Plan – will not only benefit China but will bring economic prosperity to all participating countries.
CPEC is a game-changer for Pakistan and a catalyst for economic growth, he said. The President added that the perceived risks related to CPEC including security-related apprehensions, national consensus and continuity of the projects have all been addressed. Despite the change of governments in Pakistan, the zeal for cooperation and completion of the CPEC projects has seen no change. Countries like India, USA and Japan have been calling BRI a ‘disruptive initiative’ so as to scuttle the success of the project. He said that these nations must disassociate themselves from this narrative which has been brought forward by the narrow-minded and jingoistic Indian government. The BRI is an inclusive project aimed at holistic and global economic growth and countries adhering to the concept of protectionism must acknowledge the positives of such projects.
“We should be bringing down walls that hamper economic growth and instead build linkages and economic corridors”, said the AJK President.
The President also informed the participants of the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir and how India continues to violate the rights of the Kashmiris who are demanding their right to self-determination. He categorically said, “Kashmir is not a case of terrorism, extremism or of a secessionist movement; rather the Kashmiris simply want to exercise their basic right to self-determination.” He added that the Kashmiris have been denied this basic right for over seven decades. He also appreciated China’s commitment to amicably resolve this dispute and for offering to mediate between the two nuclear states.
Describing the current situation in South Asia, the President said that another challenge faced in the region is the rising tide of Hindutva in India in which Pakistan, Kashmiris and Muslims of India are the main targets. He said that despite numerous offers by Pakistan for resolving outstanding issues with India through dialogue, Hindu extremists and hatred have become a major hindrance whereby Delhi is reluctant to engage in any concrete dialogue with Pakistan.
DG ISSI Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry in his opening remarks while explaining Pakistan’s perspective said that Pakistan and China’s relationship is based on shared principles. He said that both Pakistan and China believe in globalism and reject the unilateralist approach when it comes to its international outlook and foreign and international economic policy.
On the other hand, western allies of India have projected India as a so-called counterweight to China’s growth as a global power. He said that Pakistan being the closest ally of China has added another layer of bitterness in Delhi’s approach towards talks and peaceful co-existence in the Subcontinent.
Mr Wang Xie said that the visiting diplomats are here to learn more about Pakistan and various aspects of our time tested relationship, including understanding the opportunities and challenges related to CPEC.
He thanked the AJK President for giving a detailed briefing on Pakistan and China relations and expressed hope that over the coming years this strategic cooperation will strengthen exponentially.
He also thanked the President for presenting an overview of the Kashmir dispute.
The meeting was also attended by ISSI Chairman Board of Governors Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, DG ISSI Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry, Mr. Wang Xie, Political Attaché Embassy of China and other senior officials of ISSI.