Muzaffarabad: Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, while welcoming a high-level British Parliamentary delegation headed by MP Debbie Abrahams, Chairperson All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG), said that Azad Jammu and Kashmir has much to showcase and nothing to hide. He said the people of this territory enjoy fundamental rights and civil liberties and there are no instances of torture, persecution, detention, and restrictions on movement.
The delegates of the APPKG, who are visiting Muzaffarabad, belong to all major political parties including, the ruling Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democratic Party. The Parliamentarians present at the occasion were MP Imran Hussain; Senior Vice Chairperson APPKG, MP Sarah Britcliffe, Treasurer APPKG; MP James Daly; Lord Qurban Hussain, Secretary APPKG; MP Tahir Ali, MP Judith Cummins, MP Mark Eastwood, Councillor Harpreet Uppal and Councillor Yasmeen Dar. Also present were AJK Chief Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana and AJK Additional Inspector General of Police Fahim Abbasi.
Earlier, during a visit to India, MP Debbie Abrahams was deported from the Delhi Airport simply because of her position as Chairperson APPKG and for openly speaking for the rights of the Kashmiri people. The President during the meeting termed this as a reprehensible and shameful act which openly shows India’s complicity and intolerance.
The AJK President said that here in AJK we display immense tolerance towards political dissent and respect ideological differences. He said that in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir the true political leadership has been incarcerated. He added that in IOJK the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front has banned and its leader Yasin Malik is in jail, while the same party here is free to organize rallies and seminars and its leaders here is allowed free movement and interaction.
Masood Khan informed that after the August 5 steps taken by India there was a ground swell of support for Kashmiris all over the world. “This is not a war between Pakistan and India nor between Muslims and Hindus, but it is a struggle between humanity and inhumanity”, he reiterated.
Comparing and contrasting the situation in AJK and IOJK, the President said that 900,000 troops have been deployed by India in IOJK under the garb of fighting terrorism. He categorically stated that the freedom struggle in IOJK has taken a purely indigenous form and there are no cross Line of Control infiltrations from the liberated territory, as claimed by India. The LoC, he said, is heavily guarded and India has erected a long electrified fence connected to motion sensors, thermal imaging and high powered lights; so claims of cross-border infiltration are not possible and the only terrorism in IOJK is the state terrorism under the patronage of the Indian government.
MP Debbie Abrahams thanked the governments of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir for facilitating their visit and giving them free access to meet any group they had wished to interact with. She expressed the hope that the same courtesy may also be given to APPKG on the Indian side.
MP Debbie acknowledged the leadership of Pakistan and AJK for their commitment to protecting human rights and also lauded their efforts in fighting the scourge of terrorism. She said that the APPKG is a cross-party independent group focusing on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, adding that their Group will continue to influence the British Parliament and the policymakers in the UK.
Speaking on the occasion, MP Imran Hussain has said that the APPKG had always been requesting India for allowing them to visit IOJK but recently their request was rejected by India, once again. “If India has nothing to hide then they should allow us to visit that side of the Line of Control”, he said.
Lord Qurban Hussain said that after Brexit, the UK will be looking towards the Commonwealth nations and reiterated that it is pertinent for the UK to explore developing trade linkages with the countries based on their human rights record and their adherence to the Commonwealth principles. He said that India, in this case, will not be an exception.
President Masood Khan in a message to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and to the British Prime Minister said, “Do not to sit on the fence and instead take the side of the oppressed. Kashmiris are being killed and they can’t bear the silence of world powers as this silence is helping no one but India”.
Masood Khan said that there is a slow-moving genocide taking place in IOJK and the UK being the custodians of human rights must step in to save the population. He added that as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, the United Kingdom must facilitate the implementation of the UN SC resolutions on Kashmir and help the people of this territory to exercise their right to self-determination in a free and fair manner.
To a query posed by one of the delegates in regard to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Report published on Kashmir, the President said that the minority population in Azad Jammu and Kashmir face no persecution and enjoy equal rights. He said that one of the suggestions of the Report calls for an independent Commission of Inquiry by the Human Rights Council. He said that we must persuade India to allow this Commission to freely report on the happenings in IOJK.