Kashmir resolution central to regional and global peace, Sardar Masood Khan

Sardar Masood Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), has called upon the international community to get involved, deescalate the tension between India and Pakistan and help resolve – the root cause of conflict – the Kashmir issue. In an interview with Al Jazeera-English against the backdrop of tensions triggered by Pulwama attack in Indian Occupied Kashmir last month, Khan said a war between India and Pakistan must be avoided by helping both the countries to resolve the underlying conflict of Jammu and Kashmir. “The root cause of the Kashmir issue is the denial of the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people,” he emphasized and added that warmongering is not in the best interest of India or Pakistan. “Whenever there's a crisis such as this, we go to the UN Security Council. It is routine, particularly when there are threats from India. It's the UNSC's responsibility to maintain peace. That's the first destination of any country when there's a threat to peace and security,” the President stated. He said that the international community should step forward, broker peace and prevent a war, it is the least they can do. Both India and Pakistan, he said, are nuclear armed and any small-scale conflicts can potentially escalate to the nuclear threshold, which has to be averted at all cost. When asked about his views on the rising tension between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama attack, Masood Khan said that India is playing with fire. India, he said, is brutalising the people of Kashmir and the Pulwama incident is being used to demonise Kashmiris and project them as violent extremists, which they are not. He said that India is trying to blame Pakistan without any shred of evidence and if India is truthful, we are ready for an international investigation, provided that the investigation should not stop at the Pulwama incident and it should also investigate the brutal killings of Kashmiris. “The remit of the investigation should also include those killings. Those which have taken place in the last 71 years where there has been excessive use of force. Women have been raped and molested”, said President AJK. The AJK President said about 6,000 innocent Kashmiris have been blinded either partially or fully by the use of the pellet-firing shotgun. He deplored that the problem is that India uses two laws – the Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) – which empower the occupation forces and fosters a culture of impunity. These laws, he said, have been called lawless laws by Amnesty International and what we are saying is that India is a country which won its independence after a long struggle against British imperialism and now it should not treat Kashmir as a colony. Replying to a question about restrictions imposed by India on trade and travel between Azad Kashmir and Indian Occupied Kashmir, President Khan said, “in fact, Kashmiris have been demanding that there should be boycott, divestment and sanctions against India to hold it responsible for human rights violations. India is now acting as the judge, jury and executioner, saying 'you are the bad guys and we will impose trade sanctions against you'.” He, however, said that the trade between the two parts of Kashmir is important beyond just commercial interests. He said that trade is a part of the confidence building measures that we built a decade ago and we, in fact, use the bus service to connect divided families from both sides. He expressed hope that the suspended trade and travel service is revived. What's really worrying for India, for Pakistan and the people of Kashmir, Khan said, is that ruling party in India, the Bhartiya Janata Party has whipped up this xenophobic, racist and intolerant frenzy. “They think that using this logic of Hindu majoritarianism they can marginalise Muslims in India, penalise Kashmiris and isolate Pakistan. They're doing this for electoral gains,” Masood Khan said. To another question about the reaction of AJK people over Indian war threats, the President said that the people are angry over provocative statements coming out from India. There is a resolve among the people that the government should retaliate if India undertakes any misadventure, he said. If India has adopted this path of warmongering, we hope that sanity prevails and India steps back lest the situation spins out of control, the President said. Arguing about the indigenous character of Kashmir uprising, Sardar Masood Khan said the unbridled state terrorism against Kashmiris has led to young men – mostly educated teens – dropping out of schools and joining the freedom struggle which is not necessarily inspired from across the border as now they have their own ideological footprint. Most of the young campaigners for freedom in Kashmir right now are not militants at all, he said. “They take pride in the fact that this is an indigenous movement and that they are the leaders of this movement”, said President AJK.

Download as PDF