PR No. 90 Islamabad
Sardar Masood Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has said that the Kashmir issue is not a pawn in the regional or international political chessboard but an issue concerning the fate and political future of 20 million people of Jammu and Kashmir.
He made these remarks while speaking at a seminar – Kashmir: a new Berlin Wall in South Asia - organised by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, at the European Parliament, and hosted by Member European Parliament Amjad Bashir.
Several European MEPs, academics and representatives of civil society attended the seminar.
Sardar Masood Khan said that the analogy with the Berlin Wall was metaphorical but the difference was stark. While the Berlin Wall, approximately as old as the the Line of Control/ceasefire line, was erased but the LOC still divides the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The people of the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and Azad Kashmir wanted to unite by exercising their right to self-determination through a plebiscite, as mandated by the United Nations, but India is stopping this process by unleashing wars and state terrorism on Kashmiris.
President Masood Khan appealed to the European Parliament to come to the rescue the Kashmiris who were being brutalised, killed, maimed and tortured by the Indian Occupation Forces with impunity, in violation of international law and humans rights laws and conventions.
“Siding with the oppressor and a known violator of human rights is not impartiality, but abdication from responsibility and abetment of gross injustice”, he said.
The AJK President said that large countries in the international order were forcing world forums and world parliaments to be selective in the protection and promotion of human rights. They have, he said, distorted the human rights agenda. India was one such example.
“After wrapping Kashmir in a pall of information blackout in Kashmir, India was now trying to smother voices for freedom and rights protection in Kashmir in the international community. It was running from pillar to post to impose a “gag order” on Kashmir in Brussels, London, Washington and New York”, he said adding that India will not succeed in this campaign because even after 70 years the Kashmir issue was alive demanding a lasting resolution.
President Masood Khan urged the European Parliament to break the pattern of inattention and indeed silence on Kashmir, hold debates in the EP on Kashmir, build multi-party consensus around this issue, and send friendly parliamentary missions to both sides of Jammu and Kashmir.
He invited the European Parliament to dispatch fact finding mission to IOK and Azad Kashmir.
The AJK President said that during the Arab Spring the international civil society and Western governments had sided with those asking for their liberty and rights, but in case of Kashmir they tend to give India a blanket approval for its crimes against humanity.
Professor Alexandre Thys, a renowned economist, speaking on the occasion, said that while the economies of Azad Kashmir and IOK had huge potential, equitable distribution of waters could be a source of more tensions between India and Pakistan.
Ali Raza Syed, Chairman of the Kashmir Council, asked for the realisation of the right to self-determination of Kashmiris. Mussadhick Hussain and Kamran Sabar, members of the European diaspora community, narrated their success stories as immigrants and showed their keenness to invest in Kashmir.
Sardar Masood Khan said that Azad Kashmir had made multi-year plans to turn itself into a model sate – which would enhance its own industrial, commercial and investment profile and contribute to Pakistan’s economy. He highlighted the endeavours of the AJK Government aimed at infrastructure development, energy self-sufficiency, promotion of tourism, modernisation of agriculture, and human resource development. He said that Azad Kashmir Government was also trying to enhance ease of doing business in the state and invited entrepreneurs and investors to come to AJK to participate in national and CPEC-related projects.