WASHINGTON: Major world powers should push India and Pakistan to rebuild mutual respect and peaceful relations, says the latest report on the Kashmir dispute by the International Crisis Group (ICG).

The two neighbours should do so by “resuming formal bilateral ties and re-engaging with Kashmiri political leaders,” the report adds.

The report also says that while Pakistan backs Kashmiri activists, the “separatist insurgency (is) largely local”.

The report highlights an “encouraging” development in these tensions, pointing out that “New Delhi has held back-channel talks with Pakistan, leading to an agreement to respect the 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control”.

But the report warns that any incident could lead to a direct conflict between the two nuclear powers.

Pakistan also sent a strong message to the international community on the Kashmir Solidarity Day, urging the world not to allow India to change the demography of the disputed region.

Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington, Asad Majeed Khan, said that “the BJP government has a long-term project of altering region’s demography” and “has continued to pursue it unabatedly”.

“The international community, especially the US, must play their due role in preventing a demographic change in the illegally occupied territory,” he said. “They also need to persuade India to cease human rights violations there and to take meaningful steps to resolve the 75-year-old dispute.”

Ambassador Munir Akram, Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations in New York, explained how on Aug 5, 2019, India proceeded, through unilateral and illegal measures, to attempt the outright annexation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

“India’s extremist rulers have themselves ominously called this a “final solution,” said Mr Akram while emphasising the need to prevent India from continuing “these unilateral and illegal measures that constitute flagrant violations of the UN Charter and international law.”

In Washington, the Kashmiri community held a small protest outside the Indian Embassy as the Covid-19 pandemic does not allow large gatherings. The protesters chanted slogans against the Indian occupation and human rights violations and urged the United States to persuade India to allow the people of Kashmir to use the universal right to decide their future.

Ambassador Akram noted that the UN Security Council had not only reaffirmed the right of self-determination of Kashmiri people but had also “set out the modality to do so: a fair and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations”.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2022

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