Rapprochement between Koreas has revived hope for Kashmir: AJK president

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WASHINGTON: Noting the breakthrough between the United States (US) and North Korea to avert confrontation, Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) President Masood Khan has expressed hope that the Kashmir issue would be resolved through a political solution to ensure lasting stability in South Asia.

Speaking at a day-long event of the Pakistani-American Congress here at the Capitol Hill, he called on Pakistan and the US to resolve their periodic differences and use their history of cooperation spanning over 70 years to find ways of working together towards common goals.

Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and a number of US congressmen also attended and addressed the event. President Masood said that Pakistan and the US had been great allies in the past and they must strive once again to bring their relationship back on track.

He recalled that the partnership of the two countries during the Cold War, Afghan War in the 1980s and the war against terrorism had left a rich legacy of cooperation and collaboration between the two countries. “That must not be lost,” he said, adding that Pakistan-US relationship was much more than their differences on the security situation in Afghanistan.

The Kashmiri president advised both sides to work towards containing periodic turbulence in the relationship and build on the decades-old convergences in the fields of economy, education, science, technology and cultural affairs.

Referring to the recent positive momentum generated in the Korean Peninsula, he said that Kashmiris were encouraged by the rapprochement between North Korea, South Korea, and the US.

“The Kashmir issue is not intractable as some would try to give the impression,” he said, adding that Kashmiris in the disputed state had resolved to continue the peaceful freedom struggle until they secure their right to self-determination. He expressed the hope that the Kashmir issue would yield a diplomatic solution in the near future, provided there was a political will to resolve it by involving all parties to the dispute, as well as, the United Nations (UN).

President Masood stated 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. Kashmiris and the people of Pakistan were seeking American attention and support for the resolution of the Kashmir conflict 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, he added.

The Kashmiri leader drew the attention of the august gathering to the plight of the Kashmiri people in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) and said that hundreds, mostly youth, have been killed in a renewed phase of struggle during the past two years at the hands of the Indian security forces.

The Indian troops were committing gross human rights violations in the region and, according to international reports, nearly 1,400 Kashmiris, including children, had lost their eye-sight completely or partially due to the use of pellet guns by Indian security forces, he said.

He also presented a six-point formula for addressing this egregious human rights situation in Kashmir which included discussion by the UN Security Council on the Kashmir dispute, expansion of UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMIGOP) to report on security situation in the disputed territory, and recognition of Kashmir as a dispute by India.

President Masood also said that India should withdraw a bulk of its armed forces and repeal draconian laws forthwith that provided immunity to the Indian troops to commit human rights violations. He emphasised that Kashmir was a tripartite international issue and said, “Kashmiris do not want Kashmir to become a flashpoint between Pakistan and India but want to project it as a symbol of connectivity and harmony for the whole of South Asia,” he concluded.