Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, welcomed President Donald Trump’s fresh offer of mediation on Kashmir and assured that the people Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan would cooperate with the US President’s initiative. He regretted that India once again had shortsightedly rejected the offer. The President called on the US to continue to work on India, as an ally, to persuade it to come to the peace table and not seek the solution of the Kashmir dispute through military means.
“This is new political space, a new opportunity for the people of South Asia, including Jammu and Kashmir. I appeal to the political forces and civil society of India to change the Indian government’s myopic ‘No’ into a ‘Yes’ for diplomacy”, he said.
The President made these comments while addressing a Press Conference here at Jammu and Kashmir House.
President Masood Khan said that the Kashmir issue has three parties to the dispute – Pakistan, India and the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and the United Nations which acted as a facilitator for the resolution of the dispute. Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, have always been ready for ‘third party mediation’ by the United Nations Security Council, a statesman of high stature or any other body within the framework of the UN Charter.
“India’s stance that Kashmir is a bilateral issue is not valid”, he said.
Debunking the false narrative propagated by India on the Simla Accord and the Lahore Accord, he said that both these accords do not impose any restrictions or limitations on ‘third party mediation’ or the involvement of the United Nations.
The Simla Agreement’s Article 1 invokes the UN Charter and its Article 2 prescribes the settlement of issues through bilateral negotiations or any other means. Article 2 of Simla Agreement also says that pending the final settlement of any problem, neither side shall alter the situation on the ground, he said. He added that Article 6 of the Simla Agreement talks about the final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, which stems from the UN Security Council resolutions.
India, said the AJK President, wants to confine talks on Kashmir to a bilateral level to undermine the process for a settlement and exclude the people of Kashmir and the United Nations from this process. All doors are open for resolution of the dispute in accordance with Article 33 of the UN Charter which provides for negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements or use of good offices. If these processes do not work, the UN Security Council can be activated under Chapter VII, said the President.
Condemning India’s aggressive policy in Indian Occupied Kashmir, he said that there is no military solution to the Kashmir issue and India’s policy of state terrorism and oppression has completely failed to resolve the problems. He said that this is not a time for war; this should be a time for diplomacy, for engagement and for negotiations to resolve the Kashmir dispute once and for all. This is a time for commitment to humanity and humanitarian diplomacy.
“We welcome President Trump’s offer of mediation and counsel India to reflect and find ways to engage with Pakistan, Kashmiris and the international community. The US should also be persistent and not take India’s ‘No’ for an answer. It should try to persuade India to rethink its posture of denial and distancing”, he said.
The AJK President reiterated that India should realize that hearts and minds cannot be won by guns. India, he urged, should revisit its policy of destruction and oppression in IOK and come to the negotiating table, whether it is bilateral, trilateral or multilateral.
Jammu and Kashmir, he said is a disputed territory as its future has not been decided in accordance with the Independence Act 1947 and is the therefore unfinished business of the partition.
President Masood Khan said that Kashmir is also a disputed territory in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions which clearly recognize Pakistan, India and the people of Jammu and Kashmir as the three parties to the dispute.