Resolution of Kashmir Holds Key to Peace & Security in South Asia: PM Gillani

IMG_4206Muzaffarabd, Azad Kashmir. May 28, 2011. “Finding out an amicable solution to the core issue of Kashmir, lasting peace and economic prosperity in the whole region of South Asia is absolutely interlinked”, said Mr. Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, the Prime Minister of Pakistan while addressing the two-day international conference on Kashmir here, which was organized by the Azad Kashmir University and attended by the eminent delegates from India, Pakistan, Turkey, Europe and both sides of the Cease-fire Line.

Prime Minister Gillani said Kashmir dispute is not only affecting India and Pakistan but also destabilizing the war-ridden Afghanistan. “Pakistan is a peace loving country and wants peace with all its neighbors, however peace in the sub-continent is unattainable without finding a solution to Kashmir issue,” and “Pakistan believes in talks and having solved the Jammu and Kashmir dispute both India and Pakistan can prove to be the good markets of the world," he said.

India and Pakistan have resumed the dialogue and the process should go on so that the core issue of Kashmir could be settled amicably in accordance with Kashmiris’ aspirations in line with the UN charter and UN resolutions. “Resolution of Kashmir holds key to socio-economic development, peace and security in the region”, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director, Kashmiri American Council/Kashmir Center said, that the self-determination of the people is a basic principal and essence of the UN charter which has been reaffirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and applied countless times to the settlement of many international disputes.

The concept, Fai said played significant part in settling border disputes after World War I and attained greater importance after the Second World War. Quoting Article 1.2 of the UN charter he said that the principle of equal rights and self-determination was set as criterion to forge friendly relations amongst the nations.

Fai said, “The principle of self-determination and the maintenance of international peace and security are inseparable. The denial of this right to self-determination to the people of Kashmir has brought two neighboring countries in South Asia – India and Pakistan –to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.”

He said that since the establishment of India and Pakistan as sovereign states, Jammu and Kashmir was ‘not part of the territory of either,’ the two countries entered into an agreement to allow its people to exercise their right of self-determination under impartial auspices and in conditions free from coercion from either side.An intra-Kashmiri dialogue between the leadership of all regions and all religions of the State of Jammu & Kashmir to find a common ground to help resolve the issue of Kashmir is long over due, Fai said. 

IMG_4204“There is no international dispute which is not complex, if there is an interest in a settlement, the complexity becomes a motivating factor. If there is no interest, then it becomes an instrument of passivity and inaction”, he added. “The settlement of Kashmir is achievable if pragmatic and realistic strategy is established to help set a stage to put the Kashmir issue on the road to a settlement.”"The resolution of Kashmir is possible if all parties to the dispute - the Goverments of India and Pakistan and the people of Kashmir show some flexibility, make some sacrifices and modify their stand," Fai concluded.

The Federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, Mian Manzoor Watto said that India and Pakistan cannot afford another war as the two countries have fought two wars in the past. He urged the Government of India to respect the UN resolutions and grant Kashmiris the internationally pledged right to settle the issue peacefully. Referring to the sacrifices of the people of Jammu and Kashmir he said that the incumbent democratic dispensation in Islamabad couldn’t ignore aspirations of Kashmiri people.

Raja Zulqarnain Khan, the President of Azad Kashmir, said, “Kashmir is not a territorial dispute, it is about the fundamental rights of millions of Kashmiris.” The unresolved dispute, he said, was the main reason of the lack of economic development in South Asia. He was of the view that a peaceful settlement of the decades long dispute could usher an era of peace, prosperity and economic development.

The Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan said India’s ‘intransigence and unrealistic approach’ was a main hurdle in the way of peace. India had always backed out of its commitments, which he said was the main reason that Kashmir issue was hanging around for several years. Kashmiris want a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the problem. He however maintained that India and Pakistan could achieve new levels of economic prosperity provided the core issue of Kashmir was resolved peacefully.

Sardar Attique has cautioned that there existed no other option than “reaching a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute” as both Pakistan and India were nuclear powers in the same neighborhood of South Asia. “A viable solution that ensures satisfaction of Kashmiri aspirations can prove a harbinger of durable peace in this region. Both Pakistan and India can achieve new levels of prosperity and can play stronger roles together for the furtherance of international peace and security and regional welfare once this dispute is settled”, he added.  

In his video message, Syed Ali Geelani, Chairman, All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) urged the Government of Pakistan to stand by its principled stance on Kashmir. He thanked the people of Pakistan and Azaf Kashmir for lending all out support to Kashmir cause.  Highlighting Kashmiris’ sacrifices he said that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have rendered unprecedented sacrifices to get their cherished goal. He said that Kashmiris were not averse to talks but talks must be meaningful, result-oriented and Kashmir-centric. He said that unless India accepts the centrality of the core issue of Kashmir, getting engaged in a dialogue with India was a meaningless and futile exercise.DSC00452

Professor Nazir A. Shawl, the Executive Director of Justice Foundation/Kashmir Center said, “The history of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, reveals that its people have never given-up their claim to the right to self-determination.”

“The entire State of Jammu Kashmir” he said, “Is a disputed territory. India and Pakistan need to recognize the heterogeneous character of Jammu and Kashmir and help towards starting an intra and inter state dialogue for a greater consensus.”

Regarding the media’s role and Kashmir dispute, Greater Kashmir columnist Z G Muhammad said, “Had Indian media presented Kashmir issue in its right perspective, political leadership in India could have thought differently as far as Kashmir issue is concerned”. He said that today, there were many saner and sincere voices in the Indian media but one can’t really deny the fact that the media had played overall a “dubious role” regarding Kashmir and had wrongly supported the policies of the government. Recalling the Kunan Posh Pora mass rape incident, Zahid said, “Indian media camouflaged the whole story rather than exposing the culprits involved in the heinous crime.”

However he stated that there were big names in Indian media and the civil society like Arundhati Roy, Seema Mustafa and several others who took the lead and did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. He said that same was the case with Pakistani media. “Nobody even challenged Musharraf’s 4-point formula and the media toed his line”, he said

Professor Kamal Chenoy said that improving and expanding people to people dialogue repealing of “black laws,” ensuring the basic fundamental rights of Kashmiri people and engaging political as well as the civil society at different levels can really help to move down to peace in the region. Chenoy out rightly denounced the “draconian laws” prevalent in the state.

Chenoy said that Kashmir is an international problem and could be resolved provided the concerned parties to the dispute demonstrate magnanimity and flexibility. He was of the view that status-quo was not acceptable to the people of Kashmir and therefore an out of the box political arrangement was must to address the issue. “Azadi” he said is demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and what shape does it take is a big question to answer at the moment”.

Veteran Kashmiri leader and a known jurist and Justice (retired) Majeed Malik said that Kashmir was not only an issue of the people of Kashmir but it is an issue between India and Pakistan. He said that Simla Agreement reduced the scope of Kashmir issue making it a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. Bilateralism he said had unfortunately eliminated the role of Kashmiris though they happen to be the principal party to the dispute.

DSC00532APHC-G convener, Ghulam Muhammad Safi said Kashmiris want peace but peace with dignity and honor. He said no country whatsoever has the right to decide the fate of Kashmir saying that it were the people of Kashmir who were granted the right to determine the political future through a free, fair and impartial plebiscite.  Terming unity as key to success Safi agreed that there were some weaknesses in Kashmiri leadership and hoped that time was not far when we will have one leadership and one agenda.

APHC (M) representative Faiz Naqashbandi said that the implementation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir was the best way to settle Kashmir issue. He said that Kashmiri leadership believes that tripartite talks could lead to a peaceful settlement of the issue.  Professor Habib-u-Rehman, the Vice-Chancellor of Azad Kashmir University thanked the distinguished delegates for attending the conference.  Professor Raja Naseem Akhtar, the Program Chairman, expressed his satisfaction for the positive contribution of the delegates during the two-days international Kashmri conference.

Prominent academicians, journalists, political activists, scholars and thinkers from India, Pakistan, and both parts of Jammu and Kashmir participated in the conference. Some prominent names include Dr. Hilmi Ozev, Amb. Arif Kamal, Dr. Shaheen Akhtar, Dr Siddique Wahid, Mr. Shujaat Bukhari, Ms. Rita Manchanda, Mr. Murtaza Shibli, Ms. Anuradha Bhasin, Prof. Anuradha Chenoy, Dr. Mohammad Khan, Jusitce Majeed Malik, Dr. Nadira Mirza, Dr. Ejaz A Khan, Dr. Farid Malik, Mr. Z G Mohammad, Prof. Nazir A Shawl, Dr. Nisar Hamdani, Dr. Javed Bashir, Dr. Z U Khan, Dr. Javed Hayat, Prof. Kamal Chenoy, Ms. Seema Mustafa, Mr. Zafar Chowdhary, Mr. Tahir Aziz, Mr. Ghulam Mohmmad Safi, Mr. Faiz Naqashabndi and others.

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