ISLAMABAD: ‘Even if there is some lull, Indians won’t let us forget. Kashmiris have decided not to be a part of India.

’This was stated by Sardar Masood Khan, President, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, while delivering his keynote address at the international conference on ‘Strengthening Peace and Cooperation in South Asia- Incentives and Constraints’ organized by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute and Hanns Seidel Foundation.

The Security Council has double standards for Syria, Yemen, North Africa and whole of Africa, but it pays no attention to the issue of Kashmir. The UN Security Council is not holding any debate despite ruthless killings in Kashmir by ISF. But we should make a transition from helplessness and despondence to success. If the two nuclear powers i.e. India and Pakistan decide to go to war, it will be a disaster not only for both the countries and SAR but for the whole world.

One area where India has beaten us – the Kashmiris, Pakistanis, and the diaspora – is in the domain of communication. ‘They get away with murder because the world has bought their lies, but is not ready to believe our truth,’ said President AJK.

India has frustrated and obstructed Pakistan’s keen overtures towards peace and reconciliation, repeatedly. It has literally set Kashmir on fire. With thousands injured, mutilated and hundreds killed or kidnapped, there can be no confidence building measures.

“We are chasing a mirage. President Khan warned that no regional cooperative pacts or deals can work if the Kashmir issue, burning at the core of South Asia, is not resolved. Kashmir cannot be swept under the carpet”, he said.

He urged the international community to pay immediate attention to stop killings and torture of the people who are demanding their right to self-determination. Kashmiris have stood up to break the cycle of Indian subjugation, and their demand for self-determination is not rhetoric,rather a legitimate right. ‘The freedom struggle is indigenous being carried out by unarmed young men and women, he emphasized, and called on the younger generations of Pakistan and South Asia to raise their voices and use social media to open the world’s eyes to Indian brutalities. SardarMasood Khan said that the UN resolutions on Kashmir would remain valid until they were implemented in their true spirit.

‘The long-standing Kashmir issue is the biggest failure of international diplomacy’, saidDr Muhammad Khan, former HOD from the National Defence University in Islamabad. In his presentation, he stressed that Kashmir holds the key topeace and stability in the subcontinent, and provided detailed analysis of why bilateralism has not worked in its resolution since most of these talks ‘had more expectations without results’, therefore, he proposed that it is time to move towards a multilateral approach and diplomatic engagement.Deterioration in bilateral relations due to trust deficit has led to one-step forward and two steps backward. In fact, taking two steps back has also added many more issues such as the Siachen Glacier, water issues, and heavy defence expenditures. While Kashmir remained in cold storage till 1989, the current situation is alarming. Even though Kashmir has become complicated, it can be resolved through farsightedness and statesmanship, he said. He stressed that Indian obduracy has been the major cause of the Kashmir dispute remaining unresolved. Despite UN resolutions, international commitments and Indian commitments, India has remained a reluctant partner for normalization. Discussing why Kashmir remains an overshadowed global issue, he said it was mainly because the neutral observers and international media have had no access in the state, as India totally banned the movement of outsiders, who could have observed the HRV there since 1990. In his recommendations, he called for the projectionof Kashmir issue as a  humanitarian issue besides  its political nature; visits of affected Kashmiri families to various international capitals; indigenous Kashmiri  youth to take a lead in projection; global awareness about the Indian HR violations in IHK by Pakistani  diplomatic mission around the globe; special Kashmir cells to work  in selected Pakistani missions; and political leadership of Pakistan and  AJK  must be made to visit world’s capitals for creating awareness  on HR violations among global leadership.

Dr. AttaullahWahidyar, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Education from Kabul, Afghanistan in his heartfelt appeal to the audience and to South Asian governments stressed that in order to create space for future leadership, the blame game that Pakistan is a source of terror; India supports the Baloch; the NDS support the TTP,  needs to be stopped. Support to and for proxies, Taliban for Pakistan; TTP for India; ISIS for US need to end. ‘Let us stop propaganda wars because they benefit no one.  Let us instead develop areas of common interest that benefit the masses in this region; cooperate strategically not tactically; and allow the immediate needs of our people to guide our national interest,’ he proposed.Afghanistan should not only be seen as a problem but also an arena of incentives for connectivity; mineral resources; headwaters for practically every single South Asian neighbor. ‘Afghanistan only uses 10% of its available water. We are in the midst of 3 billion people and we are ready for cooperative arrangements regarding water,’ he shared.  He insisted that Afghanistan does not want to be ‘a battlefield for proxy wars; a space to become tested over; nor a buffer to be dominated.What we want is to become a model and platform of cooperation, dignity and prosperity. This can only happen regionally, not nationally.’ For Pakistan, Afghanistan is the best market for developing business partnerships in the private sector, especially in the education, mining and logistics sectors.

Dr. Manzoor Ahmad’s presentation was delivered in absentia by MrTauqeer Hussain Sargana, Assistant Professor, Department of Politics & IR, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan. He outlined many critical questions such as whether economic liberalism and free trade would really bring peace and prosperity to South Asia or it willcontribute to new conflicts and tensions. The audience was warned that India would drain existing industrial and investment resources from Pakistan as MNCs would be tempted to close down their productive facilities in Pakistan and enhance their production capabilities in India, a market far more attractive for foreign investment.Pakistan may lose a lot in terms of potential investment, revenues, and employment opportunities for its youth. His analysis of the current tense situation on the Line of Control was that India can even harm Pakistan economically and politically as well.  The presenter shared how in 1948–49, India stopped water flow into rivers coming into Pakistan; in 1948–49, used, unsuccessfully, trade as a weapon to force Pakistan to devalue its currency; and currently, it is building scores of dams in IHK to use water as a weapon as it has contemplated recently after the Orhi incident.  India has already threatened, downgrading of economic ties and revoking of MFN status quite recently and left the audience with an open-ended question about who will help India overcome this mindset.