Quetta; 02 January: Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has Kashmir thanked the people of Balochistan on behalf of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Azad Kashmir for their unwavering support for the Kashmiris. He added that numerous rallies in over 20 cities of Balochistan were held in solidarity with the people of IOJK and the AJK flag – a symbol of freedom and self-determination – was flown high in all the rallies.

The President made these remarks while interacting with the participants of the Fifth National Security Workshop Balochistan at Quetta on the topic, “Kashmir – its Genesis, Global Perspective and way forward”. The workshop is being jointly organized by the Pakistan Army’s Southern Military Command and National Defence University.

In his opening remarks, the President said that the people of Balochistan are progressing fast and it is a matter of pride that the valiant people of Balochistan are now being fully represented in all national institutions including the bureaucracy, armed forces, judiciary and also in the political arena.

The President while informing the participants of the grave human rights situation in Kashmir said that unfortunately, the situation in IOJK has always been dire since 1947 but after the BJP-led Modi government has taken power in India the situation has taken a turn for the worst. He said that cordon and search operations have become a norm during which young Kashmiris are picked up, the elderly beaten and the womenfolk harassed and molested. “According to the National Federation of Indian Women, over 13,000 innocent Kashmiri boys have been illegally picked up. These boys are sent to prison houses all over India where they are tortured and left traumatised for life”, said Masood Khan.

India, he said, is forcefully settling Hindus in Kashmir and has published fake maps which have shown Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan as the territory of India. Under the pretext of establishing health facilities, they plan to settle Hindus in IOJK and settlements are being made for ex-army officials, so-called West Pakistan refugees and Pundits. “There is an imminent danger of a massive refugee outflow towards Pakistan which will lead to a further demographic imbalance in IOJK turning Muslims into a minority”, he informed.

The President has said that apart from all these steps, India continues to threaten to annihilate Pakistan and “retaking” Azad Kashmir. India’s craze, he said, is fuelled by an extremist religious policy known as Hindutva which advocates a distorted religious supremacist agenda. He said that proponents of Hindutva romanticise a Hindu-only Akhand Baharat. “RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat has said that 1.3 billion people living in India are all Hindus further proving that the RSS and the BJP do not recognise any other religion apart from Hinduism. They want to eliminate Muslims and they are planning to forcefully convert them to the Hindu religion”, he said.

The AJK President said that after the illegal moves taken by India on August 5, the international media has spoken up against the atrocities taking place in IOJK. Even though, he said, powerful capitals remained tongue-tied other nations like China, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, Iran, Norway and Finland have openly supported the people of Kashmir and condemned India’s oppression in IOJK. Major parliaments around the globe including the British, European and French parliaments have spoken up for the Kashmiris. He said that ultiple hearings have also been held by the US Congress censuring India’s moves and condemning human rights violations taking place in IOJK.

Responding to the questions posed by the participants, the President refuted the notion that Kashmir is a dispute between Muslims and Hindus but said that it is a struggle between humanity and barbarity.

The President said that India has never welcomed third party mediation on Kashmir and instead previously resorted to the narrative that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and now says that it is an internal matter of the Indian Union. India, he said, has simplified the dispute by bilaterlising it for the sole purpose of sabotaging talks, maintaining the status quo and excluding both the UN and the people of Kashmir from the dispute.

Replying to a question from a participant, the President said that the Islamic Ummah has always stood with the Kashmiris. Recently, he said, the OIC had passed a resolution on Kashmir during its Contact Group meeting on Jammu and Kashmir, which strongly condemned the Indian actions taken on August 5. He said that Muslims all over the world supported the just struggle of the people of Kashmir.

President Masood Khan said that Kashmiris are the most unarmed people in the world and in the strongest words rejected India’s claims of terrorism in IOJK. India, he said, has falsely accused Kashmiris of terrorism but the reality is that international law allows for resistance against occupiers and the Kashmiris are simply exercising their right to self-defence. “Kashmiris are the most courageous people on earth as they remain undeterred in the face of the 900,000 Indian troops deployed in IOJK”, he said.

He said that Indian terrorism is restricted not only to IOJK but they also target Azad Kashmir’s citizens on this side of the Line of Control. He said that in this year alone, 3343 ceasefire violations were recorded which resulted in 61 martyrdoms and 261 injuries.

A participant on the occasion said the people and government of Balochistan stand shoulder to shoulder with their Kashmir brethren and in an affirmative voice assured the President that every person from Balochistan will prove themselves as a Burhan Wani.

The AJK President advised his audience to display unity and leverage their strengths in helping further raise the profile of the Kashmir issue. He said that we must revise our strategy on Kashmir and capitalise on the new communication bonanza provided to us by the international media. He urged that we must effectively use social media platforms to advocate the Kashmir issue and reach out to the global audience. He said that we must strive for the economic prosperity and the political stability of Pakistan.

Responding to a question, the President said that Umar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have now become anti-India only because they have lost their seats of power. He said that our true heroes are Syed Ali Gillani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Aasia Andrabi, Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah and other Hurriyat leaders who are the true representatives of the Kashmiri people.

The AJK President in his concluding remarks said that Balochistan and Azad Kashmir enjoy a close bond of brotherhood and we need to further cement these ties through developing economic, commercial and people to people linkages. He said that we welcome investors from Balochistan especially in the mineral and extractive sectors to come to AJK and share their expertise.

Balochistan, he said, is a resource-rich province and with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor we must strive to not only make the province an economic hub of Pakistan but also of the region

The interactive session was attended by Members of the Balochistan Assembly, senior bureaucrats, academicians from various universities of Balochistan, researchers and leading media representatives of the province.