LAHORE: Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan said on Saturday Pakistan and Kashmiris wanted the world organisations and powers to make India leave the occupied Kashmir and stop genocide of its people, but they were all ready to protect themselves against any Indian aggression.

He said Pakistan had already declared that it wanted peace in the region. But, he warned, nobody should doubt “our preparedness to defend ourselves, our people and our land.” He said the use of military power for self-defence was the legitimate right of every state.

He was speaking on “Kashmir under Lockdown” at one of the sessions of ThinkFest being held at Alhamra. Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar also spoke.

Mr Khan urged the UN Security Council to immediately convene its meeting on the held Kashmir which was due in December but could not take place due to certain reasons to prevent the conditions from further deteriorating.

“The world powers and the UN are mistaken if they think that India and Pakistan will not clash in view of their mass destruction nuclear weapons. There is a disaster in the offing,” he said, adding that 1990s indigenous militancy in the held Kashmir might surge if the Security Council failed to intervene and make India see reason.

He clarified that no militant camp existed in Azad Kashmir or Pakistan because they were all tapered off under a state policy. “It is India which would generate militancy with its own actions,” he said.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan has already said that anybody crossing the LoC will not serve any cause to Kashmir or Pakistan,” he said. He said the prime minister merely wanted to dispel the false Indian impression that Azad Kashmir was exporting militancy to the held Kashmir.

Mr Khan said the UN Security Council must allow the people of Kashmir to decide their fate through a referendum. If this was not held, the UN Security Council must arrange a dialogue between India, Pakistan and Kashmiris who were the main party to the dispute.

He said by annexing the held Kashmir, India had become a rogue state for the UN because it violated its (UN) resolutions on Kashmir and also for Pakistan for, it violated the Simla agreement. It also became a rogue state for the Kashmiris by subjecting them to inhuman treatment and for starting their pogrom.

He said the previous Indian governments had been trying to camouflage Indian atrocities in the held Kashmir with the claim that theirs was the biggest democracy in the world. But the Modi dispensation had itself removed this veil from the Indian face. Modi had done to India which Pakistan could not do to it, he said.

He said Pakistan was required to be different from what India was today under Modi. Otherwise the world attention on his actions against Kashmiris and Indian Muslims would be diverted, he said.

Mr Khan dilated upon how India annexed the held Jammu and Kashmir on Aug 5, 2019, held Kashmiris hostage in their homeland, and was moving towards their genocide. And it was also trying to hide its worst violations of human rights, trampling all international laws and the peaceful resistance by the hapless Kashmiris from the world.

He also explained how India redefined held Kashmir’s internal borders and threatened to cross the Line of Control and attack Pakistan. He said Kashmiris and “we are in a state of war imposed on us by India.”

But, he said, the positive thing was that major world parliaments and bodies like the European Union had disliked Indian annexation of the held Kashmir and atrocities against Kashmiris. The world sided with the Kashmiris for the first time, he said.

He said previously the world powers would not listen to Kashmiris or Pakistan on the issue because of their self interests. But this taboo had now been broken by India itself, he said, complaining however that the world leaders and bodies were silent on the Kashmir issue. “Our next challenge is to make them speak.”

He said Pakistan and Kashmiris wanted to engage India for a bilateral solution to the dispute but all was being disrupted because of Modi who had blocked all communication.

Ms Khar said militancy at present would damage the Kashmir cause. Pakistan could gain a lot by highlighting Modi government’s actions in the held Kashmir and against the Indian Muslims at the world fora. Unfortunately, all this was not being reflected in the statements of the foreign offices of important countries.

She said Pakistan and India could not afford a military solution to the Kashmir dispute. “We need to be able to peacefully co-exist. But Modi is in no such mood. Military action would not be a viable step,” she said.

MIDDLE EAST: Speaking on the topic “Choosing Friends: Pakistan and the Middle East,” retired Lt Gen Waheed Arshad said the Middle East crisis, the recent killing of Iranian general, was being manipulated by international powers and Pakistan did not have a choice to remain neutral. Pakistan had been indirectly affected by the situation.

“We have to deal with different friends (Iran and Saudi Arabia) who are fighting their ideological war in our homelands. Iran and Saudi Arabia were on the same page during the post-lslamic revolution period. We are dependent on others and can’t make free choices,” he said, adding that Pakistan must watch its interests instead of openly taking sides.

He said Pakistan became a security state because of the Indian aggressive policies towards it.

Former ambassador Asif Durrani, former UN Special Representative for Iraq Ashraf Jahangir Qazi and New York University’s Barnette Rubin also spoke.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2020

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