“Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir” Shehyar Afridi said, while addressing a seminar titled” Commemorating Black Day: Kashmir and Right to Self Determination’ organized by India Study Centre (ISC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI) in collaboration with Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir today.
Afridi said that what Modi is doing in Kashmir, the UN and the world should have taken notice of that. He expressed his astonishment that a country which claims to be a democratic and secular can indulge in practices like Ghar Wapsi Programme where minorities are being asked to either revert back to Hinduism or leave India. He also highlighted the fact that Pakistan has laid down huge sacrifices to combat terrorism and the world need to see what India has been doing. He also expressed his firm resolve that Pakistan will stand united as a nation and there will be no compromise on the issues of national security.
Earlier, in his introductory remarks, Director India Study Centre, Dr. Saif Malik said that though everyday in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIoJK) bring miseries in the lives of innocent Kashmiris but 27th October is observed when India in 1947 illegally and against the international norms landed its troops in Srinagar contrary to the wishes of Kashmiris. Since then, perpetual move of ethnic cleansing , atrocities coupled with curfews, human rights abuses, lockdown is yet unending.
In his welcome remarks, the Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that more than seven decades ago, India illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. It was illegal because it was against the partition plan and later also against the UN resolutions. Last year, the Modi government took this illegality to yet another level when he revoked Article 370 and other steps to change the demography of Kashmir. What Modi is doing is worrisome not only for the region but for India itself also.
Sharing his thoughts on the occasion, Mr. Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry, Additional Secretary and Spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that India continues to use state-terrorism as a tool to oppress Kashmiris and coerce Pakistan to abandon its support to innocent Kashmiris. India must realise that it can neither subjugate Kashmiris nor coerce Pakistan into abandoning its Kashmiri brothers. He also emphasized that durable peace in South Asia is not possible till the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
Dr. Shaheen Akhtar, Professor National Defence University said that India claims that Kashmir is the integral part of India and wondered how Kashmir can be an integral part of India when it actually never acceded to India. It was India which took the issue to the United Nations Security Council and since then, it is an internationally recognised disputed territory. She also argued that since Kashmiris never acceded to India, therefore, they cannot be termed as separatists. She urged that Pakistan need to deconstruct Indian narrative and reconstruct its own to forcefully push the Kashmir cause across the globe.
Dr. Sheikh Waleed Rasool, Director Institute of Dialogue, Development and Diplomatic Studies, Islamabad was of the view that Kashmiris are at the brink of extinction as the demographic terrorism launched post August 5, 2019 is a war of racism.
Afzal Khan, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom said that the story of Kashmir is unique in a sense that nowhere else in the world, a state indulges in a practice of mass blinding people who only wish to exercise their right to self determination. He said that the ideology of RSS is dangerous not only for the minorities but for India itself also. He also stressed that there are 3 million Kashmiris living in the UK and therefore, the UK government cannot dismiss the Kashmir issue as a bilateral conflict between India and Pakistan.
In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman Board of Governors, said that Kashmir is one issue that is close to every Pakistani’s heart. India has been trying different mechanisms and arguments to convince the world that the Kashmiri people have exercised their right to self determination.
India claims that the Kashmiris take part in every state elections which shows that they have decided in favour of India. This of course is not true. Kashmiris take part in these elections for the purpose of the administration of IIoJK only. India also claims that the UN resolutions on Kashmir have been outdated. This is also not true. The Secretary General has categorically stated that these resolution still stand valid. India also tried to portray this indigenous struggle as terrorism. Today, there is lot more awareness regarding this issue in the world and Pakistan need to build upon this and sustain its pressure on India.