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India must allow fact-finding missions to visit occupied Kashmir: Masood Khan

Islamabad: (Parliament Times) President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan has said that India must allow international fact-finding missions into the Indian Occupied Kashmir to impartially report on the human right violations committed by the occupation forces.

The President made these remarks while addressing a special lecture on “Kashmir and the World”, organized here in Islamabad by the Oxford and Cambridge Trust (OXBRIDGE). The Lecture was attended by senior bureaucrats, members of the civil society, diplomats and academicians.

Acquainting the audience with the genesis of the conflict, the President said that Kashmir was an incomplete agenda of partition. He said that during partition, over 247,000 innocent Kashmiris were butchered by the Dogra Forces in collusion with the Indian army and RSS. He said this was the first instance of a planned ethnic genocide post World War II. He added that since then, a part of Jammu and Kashmir has been illegally occupied and the Kashmiris have been denied their just right to self-determination guaranteed to them under the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions.

Highlighting the human right violations taking place in IOK, President AJK informed the participants that Indian forces under the draconian “lawless laws” – Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act – have killed, maimed, tortured and illegally incarcerated innocent protestors with outright impunity. He said that there are countless instances of forced disappearances, murders under detention and extrajudicial killings that have been reported. He said the occupation forces openly dishonour womenfolk and are using rape as an instrument of war, leaving the population in a state of psychological and physical trauma.

Terming the international community’s silence over Kashmir as deplorable, the President said that western powers who claim to be champions of human rights have become a pray to realpolitik. He elucidated that due to India’s lucrative economic deals with these nations and its “claim” in slowing China’s economic growth in the region, the west has turned a blind eye towards the atrocious war crimes being perpetrated in IOK.

Furthermore, the President altogether denied India’s narrative regarding the issue being a bilateral matter between Pakistan and India. He added India has used the guise of bilateral talks in hijacking the agenda and timeline of the talks; in the process taking the issue to the back burners and maintaining its status quo. “India’s attempt in excluding them (Kashmiris) from talks is an oxymoron. The very people of Kashmir are the key constituent to the dispute and resolution of the issue without their consent is impossible”, said the President.

India, he said has deployed 700,000 of its armed forces in IOK under the pretext of terrorism. The President categorically denied any terrorism in IOK, saying that there are no supply chains for arms and India boasts that it has erected a 550-kilometre long electrified fence connected to motion sensors, thermal imaging and lighting so claims of cross-border infiltration is not possible. On the other hand, India continues its murderous rampage in IOK, targeting civilians across the LOC and working boundary in AJK, and its proxy war in Pakistan’s territory, he said.

The President said that under the UN Charter, the UN Secretary-General must use his good office to encourage negotiations, enquiries, mediations, conciliations and arbitrations; and bring India to the negotiation table. He said that the Secretary-General has offered his good offices if India and Pakistan concur to such a role by him. The President added that India would never concur as it would do everything in its power to hide its crimes. He urged the UNSC to debate and intervene on Kashmir in the same way it has acted when it came to Mali, East Timur, South Sudan, Yemen and other conflict zones.

He also said that United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) must be made more effective and given requisite authority and access to IOK. UNMOGIP reports, he said, must be presented to all UNSC members so that India is brought to task for human right abuses being committed in IOK and across the LOC in AJK.

President Masood Khan proposed that we must take the issue back to the UNSC with renewed vigor as it is still an unresolved agenda item. He urged that, first and foremost, by unifying our ranks and reaching out to the Kashmiris in IOK, we can use modern and traditional mediums of communication in raising our voices for the innocent Kashmiris. He further said that to raise the profile of the Kashmir issue, we must leverage the strengths of our Pakistani-Kashmiri diaspora in making inroads into the global civil society, parliamentary bodies and international organizations.

Responding to a question from the audience, the President said that Azad Kashmir is striving for good governance by ensuring accountability, transparency and meritocracy. He said, Azad Kashmir is on track towards economic prosperity and AJK’s formal inclusion in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has assured 4 major projects including two hydropower projects (Kohala and Karot), a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Mirpur and an Expressway connecting the SEZ to the Central CPEC route. “Azad Kashmir will be no longer be a liability but an important asset for Pakistan”, he said.

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