Philadelphia: Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, during a talk with members of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia and the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said that there were no terrorist launch pads in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and categorically rejected Ajit Doval’s arbitrary claim of terrorist being readied on AJKs side to fight in IOK. Dovals narrative, he said, is dated and holds no relevance.
The President was speaking on the topic ‘From the front-lines of a Nuclear Flash Point’ at the historic Union League building. The event was hosted by Mr. Raza Bukhari and moderated by Mr. Craig Snyder.
In his opening remarks, the AJK President affirmed that there is no terrorism in IOK and the current uprising is indigenous and led by the tormented people of Kashmir. He went on to say that “The only terrorism in IOK is the state sponsored terrorism perpetrated by the Indian government against the innocent and unarmed people of Kashmir”.
The President apprised his audience that unilateral steps taken by the Indian government on August 5 were illegal and in violations of international conventions like the Fourth Geneva Convention Additional Protocol- I and the ICC statutes. India has tried to change the disputed status of Kashmir and is now trying to colonize it, he added.
Describing abrogated Article 370 of Indian constitution a ‘Faustian Pact’ between Nehru and Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah, Sardar Masood Khan said the piece of legislation was inserted in the constitution to get popular support in Kashmir. On the other hand, Article 35-A predates the independence of India and it guaranteed the provision of education, employment and immovable property to the people of Kashmir. These guarantees have been revoked post August 5 and now the BJP led Indian government is making ground to settle Hindus and non-Kashmiris from all over India in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
One reality that we all must realize is that since 1947 Kashmiris have been living their lives under the repressive Indian rule wherein murder, torture, rape and detentions have been the norm. On the other hand, Narendra Modi is trying to justify the revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A as a step to usher in a new era of development and economic prosperity, he said.
The AJK President while apprising his audience, said that IOK is under siege for the past 58 days and that the Indian government has once again invaded the region under the guise of security lockdown and communication blackout.
Streets in Kashmir are empty and only gun-totting soldiers armed with advanced weapons can be seen patrolling these streets, he said. Thousands of young Kashmiris have been picked up from their homes and illegally detained in prisons all over India.
The Indian Federation of Women has reported that over 13,000 young Kashmiris have been detained and these include minors as young as 12, 13 and 14 years of age. The Hindu-extremist leadership of the BJP led government and even sitting Chief Ministers in India have openly called on their supporters to marry Kashmiri women, claiming them as spoils of war. This is by far the worst example of female objectification in recent history, he said.
President Masood Khan praised the role of the international media especially the mainstream US media for their factual reporting of the situation in Kashmir and for calling Indian’s bluff. He said that on the global front, the response has been mixed and as major world capitals remain tight lipped and ambivalent, lawmakers from around the world have been actively speaking about the plight of the Kashmiris.
He especially thanked US congressional members for writing in support of the Kashmiris and also for reaching out to the US President asking for the removal of communication blockades in Kashmir.
The President impressed upon his crowd that our collective goal as citizens of this world is the unceasing quest for peace and it was because of this zeal we had created a new world order post-World War II which was symbolized by the creation of the UNO and embodied the spirit of humanity in the articles of the UN Charter.
The UN thus should devote its efforts to protecting the world from the scourge of war and ensuring collective economic development. The USA as a founding member of this order and a champion of human rights must step forward and bring an end to the human rights violations in IOK and ensure the people of Kashmir are granted their right to self-determination.
The President insisted that the evasive approach of major world powers towards Indian aggression is identical to appeasement of Nazi the regime in the previous century that led to the devastating World Wars and this has to be avoided.
The AJK President said that India is making the region drift towards war and is threatening Pakistan with the use of nuclear weapons. Modi, during the recent electoral the campaign said that India will use “mother of a nuclear bomb” against Pakistan; further stating that India’s nuclear weapons are no “fireworks for Diwali”.
Lamenting the passive role of the UN Security Council in connection to Kashmir, he said that world body had to wait for a communication from Pakistan and then it held one informal session on Kashmir which concluded without a Presidential Statement. The president emphasized that the UN Security Council must intervene in IOK before it’s too late and affirmed that genocide and a pogrom is in progress in IOK.
The President warned that any engagement between India and Pakistan even a small scale can lead to a nuclear war which will have far reaching global consequences that include massive refugee outflows, major climatic and health impacts, food scarcity and ultimately a global economic recession.
Masood Khan urged that diplomatic means and political means need to be adopted to help resolve the Kashmir issue and we should move fast to avoid a global crisis.
While summing up his talk, the President appealed to global powers to save Kashmiris before it is too late and abolish the steps taken by the Indian government on August 5. He said the growing rise of the Hindutva extremist ideology has to be stemmed. He added that collective efforts must be taken to curb drift towards war help deescalate rising tensions between Pakistan and India. Lastly, he said constructive political and diplomatic steps have to be taken to find a lasting a just solution to the Kashmir issue.
Responding to various questions posed by the audience, the President said that India has avoided talks on Kashmir and always used bilateral talks as a means of maintaining the status quo.
Responding to a question about AJK, he said that comparing IOK and AJK is not logical. The difference is very obvious as people in IOK are under siege and are imprisoned in their homes; people in AJK are enjoying freedom and the government is investing in the development and progress of the area.