Islamabad: Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has said that Shiekh Abdullah’s National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti’s People Democratic Party have all along been a party to India’s massacre, arrests and blinding of the Kashmiri people and we cannot equate the leaders of these parties to the true representative leadership of the Kashmiris.
He made these remarks while addressing a roundtable on “Self-determination Day: Voices from Kashmir”, jointly organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) and the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan.
Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, DG ISS, in his welcome remarks said that the unilateral action taken by India in Jammu and Kashmir is illegal and in violation of the UN resolutions and the agreements signed between Pakistan and India. Mr. Altaf Wani, Chairman Kashmir Institute of International Relations informed that genocide is taking place in IOJK and the identity, culture and very life of the Kashmiris are at risk of annihilation.
Other speakers including Mr. Khalid Rehman, Executive Director IPS, said that India has continued to violate its commitments with the UN and in turn, proved that the world order has failed in maintaining peace and security. He added that we need to bring forward the facts of the dispute and present a long-term strategy for resolution of the Kashmir issue. Dr Syed Nazir Gillani said that the UN has acknowledged the right to self-determination of the Kashmir people and we must use all the mechanisms present under the UN Charter for resolving the Kashmir issue.
Syed Abdullah Gillani, convenor APHC, said that today is a day of introspection. He said that today is a day to renew our commitments towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute adding that the people of Kashmir will continue their struggle till the last Indian soldier leaves the land of Jammu and Kashmir.
President AJK, in his talk, said that the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri is fully recognised by the UN and its Charter. The UN alone, he said, is not responsible for the failure of implementing its resolutions on Kashmir but India has over the past seven decades stonewalled the process and instead sent 900,000 troops to cement its illegal occupation of the Jammu and Kashmir territory. India’s claim of terrorism in IOJK has been a method employed by them to simply avoid talks and maintain a status quo.
“We will achieve our right to self-determination at any cost”, he asserted.
The President said that India had on August 5 once again invaded IOJK and in a planned manner bifurcated the region on October 31. The disputed and special status of the State has been simply downgraded to a municipality. “India has now, in a bid to further agitate the situation, gone to the extent of fabricating maps that include AJK and Gilgit Baltistan within the territorial boundaries of India”, said the President.
Masood Khan said that despite the silence of major world capitals and the disappointing role of the UN Security Council; the international media, major parliaments have spoken up. “We have been given an opportunity on a global scale and we must not lose this window given to us wherein a factual narrative has been built-in favour of the people of Kashmir”, he said
The President thanked China, Turkey, Malaysia, Finland, Germany and Sweden who have spoken boldly in favour of the just struggle of the Kashmiris. He also informed that the Malaysian Parliament has founded a Kashmir Advocacy Group and the ASEAN has also expressed their interest in establishing a similar group.
Masood Khan said that the siege in IOJK has now entered its 160th day and the communication blockade and security lockdown have crippled life in the territory. He said that Guardian in a recent article called India the “Internet shutdown capital of the world”. He said that India in its attempts to project an image of normalcy in IOJK invited envoys stationed in Delhi to visit Srinigar. The European Union envoy rejected to be part of ‘guided tour’ proving that India has much to hide in IOJK.
The President paid tribute to the true Kashmiri leadership, Syed Ali Gillani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yaseen Malik, Aasia Andrabi, Ashraf Sehrai and Shabbir Shah for their resolve and commitment. He said that there is no way Mehbooba Mufti and Abdullah Shiekh represent the true sentiments of the Kashmiri people.
Resolving the Kashmir issue, said Masood Khan, is not the world’s moral obligation but a legal, political and diplomatic obligation. He said that we have squandered three decades in futile bilateral dialogues with and the main reason the issue has remained unresolved is that Kashmiris have not been made a part of structured talks and instead the true leadership has been relegated to the margins. “Ascertaining the true aspiration of the Kashmiris is the key to resolving the Kashmir issue”, he said.
The AJK President said that we as a nation must not display dejection, we need to stand united and we must not be entrapped in India’s malicious plans. The joint resistance leadership have united and refuted India’s claim that the Kashmiri leadership remain disunited.
The President said that the people of Kashmir have rejected India’s writ and in a display of civil disobedience boycotted the selling of their annual produce leading to losses running into millions of dollars. He said that we must continue to struggle for our brave Kashmiris and hopefully, a day would come when India would be protesting while we would be celebrating the freedom of IOJK from occupation.
The event was attended by leading diplomats, APHC representatives, academics, human rights activists and members of the print and electronic media.