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Masood calls for a strategy to deal with India after political ascendency of BJP

Khizar Hayat Abbasi,

ISLAMABAD:    (Parliament Times)     Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President, Sardar Masood Khan has urged national security experts and policy makers to come up with a strategy to deal with India for peace and security in the region in the wake of Bharatiya Janata Party’s re-election to take up its second stint in the power.

“We need to go back to the drawing board to take note of all the variables and constants that are there and come up with a strategy to safeguard the interest of our country,” the President said while addressing a conference titled “Enduring Rivalry-Post Indian Election Scenario in Occupied Kashmir”.

The conference Organized by Center for Global and Strategic Studies (CGSS) was also addressed by Major General (Retd) Syed Khalid Amir Jaffery HI (M), President CGSS, former ambassador Abdul Basit, former federal Minister of Law, Justice, Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights, Ahmer Bilal Soofi and Prof. Dr. Muhammad Khan.

“There should be a strategy to respond to all these developments that take place in the region in addition to inventorying our own problems at home,” AJK President said. The strategy, he emphasized should aim to make Pakistan secure and defining its policy viz-a-viz India at the same time.

Terming Jammu and Kashmir dispute as the root cause of the tensions and confrontation between India and Pakistan, Khan said our political and diplomatic strategy on Kashmir should hinge on an economically, strategically and politically strong Pakistan.

“If Pakistan is not strong, we would lose the struggle for Kashmir,” he cautioned.

Highlighting the agenda of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party viz-a-viz Pakistan, people of Kashmir and the Muslims citizens of India, Khan said Narendra Modi in his recently concluded elections rallies spearheaded a venomous anti-Muslim campaign calling Muslims in India subversive, Pakistan as an arch enemy and Kashmiris struggling for freedom as traitors.

The BJP’s 2019 manifesto has also declared intent to abrogate Article 370 and Article 35 A to snatch the symbolic autonomy given to the state, he said.

The President observed that Article 35 A has substance in regard to permanent residence in the state, employment, acquisition of immovable prosperity, settlement and scholarships. The purpose obviously is to radically alter the demographic composition of the region of its distinct Muslim and Kashmiri character, he pointed out.

This kind of movement is being choreographed in contemporary India where Nathuram Godse, the assassin of the founder of India, Mahatma Gandhi, is being lionized as a patriot.

The extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to which Godse belonged at one point, is the parent organization of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) that rules India today, the president said.

A 597-foot statue of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, who played a key role in orchestrating occupation of a part Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, has been built in Gujarat. So the modern Indian political idiom says Godse is good, Gandhi was bad; Patel was a patriot, Nehru was not; Hindus are a paragon of purity; and Muslims and other minorities as Malecha outsiders.

A revisionist history of the 1,000-year Muslim rule India of is being popularized to denigrate, besmirch and vilify Indian Muslims, Kashmiri Muslims and Pakistan, he stated.

“Muslims are being asked to expiate for the sins of their past rulers. By doing so, ultra-nationalists want to “cleanse” their society and correct a “historical wrong”.

He said that extremist Hindu nationalists have not accepted creation of Pakistan and they dream of undoing this political transformation and restoring their utopian Akhand Bharat or Bharat Bhumi.

The extremists Hindus believe that the creation of Pakistan was a cardinal sin for which Pakistan should be punished and the Hindus should atone for it by recalibrating history, Masood Khan maintained.

He went on to say that now cow protection (gau raksha) launched by the Bajrang Dal, a militant squad of the BJP, forces reconversion of Muslims to Hinduism (Ghar Wapsi).

The ban on praying in public places and playing cricket on the day of Holi are used to persecute and brutalize Kashmiris. Anybody on the wrong side of these violent extremists is asked to go to Pakistan, he divulged.

The president said that a sharp spike in populous anger and hate crimes against Muslims in India and IOK demands to make Pakistan strong with economic strength of the country an absolute priority, underpinned by a strong defence capability on land, in the air and on the sea, and national unity.

“We all know that India has launched a worldwide campaign to emasculate Pakistan economically, deprive it of modern weapon systems, and isolate it diplomatically,” Khan said and asserted that preparedness and response in all three areas are imperative.

He reminded the audience that ultra-nationalism laced with religious chauvinism was on the rise in many parts of the world – in Europe, the US, the Middle East and the retreat of liberalism in many parts of the world.

That’s why the custodians of human rights would not take India to task for its crimes against humanity in IOK, blatant xenophobia and incitement to hatred appears to be an enduring rather than a transient phenomenon and was likely to lead to a long period of pernicious consequences of hostility from India, Masood Khan said.

Tracing the genesis of Kashmir conflict, Khan narrated that in 1947, Jammu and Kashmir would have rightfully been part of Pakistan because of the natural inclination of its people, bonds of kinship and commerce, and geographical contiguity.

Integration of Kashmir with the state of Pakistan was thwarted by conspiracy, political maneuvering, legal deceit in case of the Gurdaspur district and clandestine troop mobilization from East Punjab and Kapurthala was resulted in occupation of IOK and, hence, Pakistan was robbed of Kashmir and its inhabitants were denied their aspirations and statehood. So, in 1947-48, the quintessential cause of war, or casus beli, was Kashmir; and it remains so up to this day.

He further asserted that legally, IOK has a sui generis status and India’s occupation of the territory is a transitional phase because it has not been integrated with the Indian state under international law.

Legally, IOK is not India’s part, let alone integral part. India only has de facto control, but not de jure capacity, he said.

What India has exercised is “occupational constitutionalism” to extend its “foreign dominance and control” to the occupied territory “through a series of legal mechanisms and processes across time that institute a state of emergency and permanent crisis in Kashmir,” he remarked.

He said since Pakistan was giving moral and political support to the Kashmiris, in retaliation India has imposed three intermittent but fierce wars on Pakistan: repression against the Kashmiri people in IOK whom Pakistan considers its citizens pending the settlement of the dispute; hostile fire across the Line of Control; and subversive proxy wars throughout the territory of Pakistan.

“It is conventional wisdom for any future war between India and Pakistan – conventional or nuclear – the trigger will be Kashmir. And there are risks that a conventional exchange between the two countries crossing a certain threshold can spiral to the nuclear level with attendant dangerous repercussions,” Khan said.

“This can happen through deliberate or accidental use of nuclear weapons or by miscalculation. With nuclear adventurists like Modi, who recently threatened to wipe Pakistan out by using “mother of nuclear bombs”, nothing can be ruled out,” he warned.

About the situation prevails in Kashmir; he said today Kashmir was in ruins. Young men are being killed by the personnel of occupation army, whose number has swelled to 780,000 after Pulwama attack.

The political activists or even ordinary citizens, on the basis of suspicion, are being detained, disappeared, tortured, and killed. Women are being raped. Houses and businesses are being ransacked and demolished; standing crops and orchards are being burnt. There is a reign of terrorism in the occupied territory sponsored and executed by the Indian occupation forces, he said.

Muslims are being targeted by fascist RSS vigilantes because they are Muslim. This kind of systematic persecution confirms and reinforces the Kashmiris’ perception of the two-nation theory.

In the coming years, he said, the room for bilateral diplomacy on Kashmir will shrink. India would first not agree to bilateral dialogue and when it would for sporadically for fleeting periods, it would use it to blur focus on Kashmir and gain more time for consolidating its rule in Kashmir.

“Kashmir is first and foremost an international issue and therefore it must be kept alive in multilateral forums, world parliaments and civil society organizations and should remain on the multilateral agenda,” he concluded.

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