By Our Staff Correspondent
MUZAFFARABAD: President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Sardar Masood Khan called upon the international community to focus on the Kashmir conflict and warned that continued suppression of Kashmiris could lead to grim consequences.
In an interview with an international news agency, Khan spoke at length on security issues, humanitarian conditions in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and the role of the international community, besides emphasizing to launch humanitarian diplomacy to ameliorate the sufferings of the people in the occupied territory.
Against the backdrop of tensions triggered by a suicide attack in India-occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama district in February this year, Sardar Masood Khan said the situation was gloomy and gruesome after the Pulwama attack followed by military exchanges between India and Pakistan on February 26 and 27.
India, he said, has intensified its cordon and search operations (CASOs) in the occupied Kashmir.
“The political leaders and activists are being persecuted in IOK. Indian leaders, particularly ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi is using oppression in Kashmir as fodder in their election campaign, showcasing the repression against Kashmiris as a strong point to solicit votes in the elections,” Khan regretted.
The Hindu extremists, he maintained, have orchestrated a campaign against Pakistan. In election rallies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has threatened to use nuclear weapons against Pakistan to wipe out it from the face of the earth, a threat, which Masood Khan called ‘nuclear terrorism’.
He said the international community did show its interest in the situation of Jammu and Kashmir in February, but unfortunately, it (international community) was more concerned about the security of the region than the humanitarian crisis unfolding every day in Kashmir and the cause of the tensions.
When asked what kind of political solution can be applied to resolve Kashmir conflict, Sardar Masood Khan said the solution is already on the table and was given by the UN Security Council (UNSC) when India had approached the world body back in the 1950s.
The solution, he added, was that a referendum, or a plebiscite, would be held under the auspices of the UN to ascertain the wishes of people of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said a political solution is possible when all the parties to the dispute come to the negotiating table. Now, the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the state and people of Pakistan were ready for that process but it was India who was obstructing the process by choosing the path of brutalising the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Saying that Kashmir was an international issue with three parties to the dispute, AJK President said it was India’s preference to project it as a bilateral issue or a border dispute between India and Pakistan, which was not a reality.
The international community should focus on the Kashmir dispute, not just through a security prism and the consequences of a clash between India and Pakistan. But it should focus on the root cause — the denial of the right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and gross violations of human rights, he emphasized.
Commenting on the prospect of nuclear war between the two South Asian arch-rivals, Khan said the threat of serious confrontation between India and Pakistan could not be ruled out until the international community makes serious efforts to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
“If there is a nuclear exchange or a limited nuclear exchange, it would not remain confined to the region. The consequences will be dangerous not just for India and Pakistan, but for the entire world”, he cautioned.
“There would be massive radiation which would affect 2.5 billion people in South Asia. Some 20 million people will die. So, I think it is the responsibility of the international community to avert such a war by addressing the root cause, which is the dispute of Kashmir.
Regarding the suspension of trade between two dived parts of Kashmir (AJK and IOK) by India, the President said India acts like the judge, the jury and the executioner by making false allegations against Pakistan and suspending the trade unilaterally without any investigation.