Reversal of IIOJK status should be precondition for talks with India: Masood

Published May 13, 2021
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan. — File photo
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan. — File photo

MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan has cautioned that any nod from Pakistan about bilateral talks on Kashmir and other consequential agenda will amount to endorsing India’s ongoing fascism and war crimes in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

“These crimes include demographic changes, land grab, killings, detention of thousands of political activists and cultural invasion,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mr Khan maintained that though the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) was a step in the right direction as it saved the lives and properties of more than 600,000 people on the AJK side and thousands others on the other side, the confidence-building measures beyond ceasefire were however fraught with uncertainties about India’s real intentions.

Lifting of the protracted and brutal military siege of Kashmir, restoration of the before August 5, 2019 status of the occupied territory and revocation of all illegal domicile certificates issued to more than three million non-natives were some of the minimum confidence-building measures required before any engagement with India, he said.

”Pakistan should stick to these conditions for resumption of talks with Delhi,” he said and added that the history of bilateral talks — Simla, Lahore, or broadly the talks that started in the late 1980s and dissipated after 2008 — was a testament to the elusiveness and the futility of the process.

The AJK president maintained that India had always abused bilateral talks to blur the focus on Kashmir, consolidate its occupation of the territory, clutter the agenda with less important issues and to accuse Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism.

“India would start each round with hubris and condescension and Pakistan ever so keen for a diplomatic solution of the Kashmir dispute, even though bilateral diplomacy was made to supplicate New Delhi for a continuation of the talks,” he remarked.

Mr Khan noted that since the martyrdom of Burhan Wani in 2016 and the Indian siege of occupied Kashmir in 2019, Kashmir had been internationalised as it had been discussed in the UN Security Council, the US Congress, European, British and Asean parliaments, among others.

The extensive coverage of Kashmir by the international media and debates in the leading international think tanks and human rights organisations had hurt India, he asserted.

According to Mr Khan, India’s fascist Hindutva-driven agenda had been questioned globally, though the criticism was not as sharp as it should have been, and now India wanted to seek indemnity and immunity for its crimes against humanity in occupied Kashmir.

In this context, he warned that Kashmir should remain in the international space it has acquired; otherwise, there would be no pressure on India to engage in Kashmir.

Onpotential risks of entering into unconditional talks with India, the AJK president saidnobody was so naive as to start talks with India without conditions.

Placing confidence in diplomats, military commanders and politicians of Pakistan in view of their “decades of experience of dealing with India,” he however cautioned that the risks of starting another round of talks with India without clearing the deck could be disastrous.

“The biggest risk for Pakistan, however, is that any unilateral concession on Kashmir will imperil Pakistan’s own national security because Hindu zealots, who rule the roost in India, want to demolish the state of Pakistan, which they think is an aberration from their averred faith inAkhand[united] Bharat,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2021

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