President Masood Khan Delivers Inaugural address at the Capitol Hill, Washington DC
Washington: Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, in his address at the day-long event of the Pakistani American Congress expressed the hope that the Kashmir dispute should yield to a diplomatic solution in the near future provided there is political will to resolve it by involving all parties to the dispute as well as the United Nations.
President Masood Khan said that Kashmiris were encouraged by the recent positive momentum generated in the Korean peninsula where one was witnessing a rapprochement between North Korea and South Korea and the United States and North Korea who were energetically reaching out to each other to explore ways to pursue the path of engagement rather than confrontation.
“The Kashmir issue is not intractable as some would try to give the impression”, he said, adding that Kashmiris in the IOK have resolved to continue the peaceful freedom struggle until they secure their right to self-determination.
The President was the Chief Guest in a daylong event organized by Pakistani American Congress (PAC) to commemorate the 27th Annual Pakistan-US Friendship Day at the US Capitol Hill, Washington DC. Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and a number of US Congressmen also attended and addressed the event.
Addressing the US Congressmen and Pakistani Americans, the President said that the US should understand the plight and struggle of the Kashmiris because the US too had won its independence through a long, fierce and arduous struggle. He said that Kashmiris and the people of Pakistan are seeking American attention and support for the resolution of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir because of its historical ties with the region and its track record of trying to find a diplomatic solution to the problem in the past.
The AJK President said that IOK was witnessing a human right and humanitarian emergency since July 2016. Hundreds, mostly youth, have been killed, thousands injured and according to international reports nearly 1400 Kashmiris including children have lost their eye-sight completely or partially. “Recently, India has intensified its killing spree in which it was deliberately targeting youth to mete out collective punishment to the Kashmiris”, he said while highlighting Kashmiris’ resolve that they would not be bludgeoned into submission or capitulation.
The human rights violations by the Indian occupation forces, in fact, were crimes against humanity, genocide and ethnic cleansing and those perpetrating these crimes were doing so with impunity and have been given complete immunity from prosecution.
The President said that Indian attempts to change demography in the IOK were a direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Additional Protocol I. International Humanitarian Law, ICC Statute, UN Security Council Resolutions and Human Rights Reports, he said, prohibit establishment of settlements or population transfers in the occupied territories.
India, the President said, was following a three point policy towards Kashmir: kill and brutalize Kashmiris to make these punishment unbearable for them; don’t talk to the Joint Resistance Leadership in IOK on the Kashmir dispute; and, close all doors for talks with Pakistan.
President Masood Khan said that the people of Kashmir in Pakistan believe that state terrorism and extremist violence used by India will not resolve the Kashmir issue under any circumstances. The Kashmiris are pursuing the peaceful path of a political and diplomatic solution in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.
The President also presented a six-point formula for addressing this egregious human rights situation in Kashmir:
1. The Security Council should discuss the Jammu and Kashmir dispute with a view to activating modalities for holding a plebiscite or referendum in Jammu and Kashmir.
2. In the mean time, the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) should be expanded not just to monitor the situation along the Line of Control but to report on the precarious security situation and deteriorating human rights situation in IOK.
3. India should recognize Kashmir as a dispute and along with other parties try to work for a peaceful solution. For that purpose, India should enter into an open dialogue with Pakistan and Kashmiri leaders.
4. India should withdraw the bulk of its armed forces, Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force from the civilian/urban centers.
5. India should forthwith repeal draconian laws – the Public Safety Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that enable the occupation forces to commit crimes with impunity.
6. India should grant access to a Mission from the UN Human Rights Council as proposed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. ZeidRa’ad al-Hussein.
The President emphasized that Kashmir was a tripartite international issue involving Pakistan, India and the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who were key constituent in the dispute. Kashmiris, he said, were peaceful and peace-loving people and were opposed to terrorism. “Kashmiris do not want Kashmir to become a flashpoint between nuclear armed Pakistan and India but want to project it as a symbol of connectivity and harmony for the whole of South Asia”, he said.
The President said that Pakistan and the United States had been great allies in the past and they must strive once again to bring their relationship back on track. The partnership of the two countries during the Cold War, Afghan War in the1980s and the War against Terrorism has left a rich legacy of cooperation and collaboration. “That must not be lost”, he said, adding that Pakistan-US relationship was much more than differences on security situation in Afghanistan. He advised both sides to work towards containing periodic turbulence in the relationship and build on the decades old convergences in economic, educational, scientific, technological and cultural affairs.
Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry also spoke on the occasion commending the Pakistani Americans for playing key role in promoting cooperation and friendship between Pakistan and the United States.
Other speakers at the event included Congressman Tom Suozzi from New York, Congressman Donald Norcross from New Jersey, Congressman Michael Coffman from Colorado and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson. Professor Marvin Weinbaum of the Middle East Institute, Thomas McDevitt, Chairman of Washington Times and Courtney Dunn, Deputy Director Pakistan Desk in the State Department also spoke on the occasion.
The participants congratulated PAC for a successful event on the Hill, which will go a long way in promoting understanding about Pakistan and winning friends for Pakistan in the US Congress and beyond.
May 10, 2018.