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ISLAMABAD,February 16: The Strategic Vision Institute has warned that the dangerous escalation by India with Pakistan amidst the uprising in Occupied Kashmir could enhance the chances of a full scale military confrontation and undermine regional peace, security and strategic stability.

The assessment was issued at the end of a round-table discussion organized by the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) on the ‘Kashmir Conflict and Regional Security in South Asia’. The event was attended by senior retired Pakistani diplomats, military officials, academicians, Kashmiri activists, and representatives of Islamabad based think tanks.

“India, alongside brutal repression in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, has sharply intensified ceasefire violations along Line of Control and the Working Boundary in a bid to create an impression that the situation in Kashmir was Pakistan’s creation. Additionally, Pakistan is being threatened with punitive action,” the think tank noted.

According to the think tank India committed 389 ceasefire violations since last summer, when the latest phase of uprising in the Valley started, in which over 60 people, both civilian and military have been killed because of Indian shelling on the Pakistani side.

President SVI Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said the situation becomes particularly worrisome when seen in the context of confirmation of the existence of the Cold Start Doctrine by Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat and Delhi’s massive conventional arms build-up, rapidly growing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles arsenal, and expanding ballistic missile defence capacities, backed by manifold budgetary increase for military preparation. “The situation is too dangerous and risky …, it carries dangerous portents for peace, regional security and strategic stability.”

The discussion at the roundtable revolved around the options available with the Pakistan government for morally, politically and diplomatically supporting the uprising in Occupied Kashmir.

President, Islamabad Policy Research Institute Amb Sohail Amin observed Pakistan had tried every track to find a solution to the Kashmir problem, but only got belligerence in return from India. He regretted that world’s business interests in India prevented it from speaking up against the brutalities being committed by the Indian security forces in the Occupied Valley. Almost 173 Kashmiris have been killed and over 19,000 have been injured in the crackdown by the security forces against unarmed civilians protesting against excesses by the Indian forces. Some 1,240 partially or fully lost their eyesight due to the use of pellet guns by Indian soldiers.

Former Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar said India was extremely inflexible on the Kashmir issue. “We are in a complex and difficult situation. Dealing with India has been a very frustrating experience for Pakistan,” he said. Mr Khokhar further regretted that most of the Pakistani political leaders either have not been sincere with the Kashmir cause or had lack of clarity on the way forward.

Amb Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, meanwhile, was of the opinion that Pakistan’s foreign policy has been a series of short term policies that did not add to each other. Kashmir, he said, was a long term problem requiring a long term solution. He recommended that Pakistan should improve its image for increasing its options and winning the respect of the world. Moreover, he stressed that Kashmiri freedom fighters and Pakistan need to be on the same page.

Former Defense Secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi called for developing a synergy between the movement in Occupied Kashmir and Pakistani moves in support of the uprising.

Kashmiri Activist Mushaal Hussein Mullick, who is also the spouse of Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik, said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) offered an opportunity for resolving the Kashmir issue. “Once the world’s economic interest develops in Pakistan, India would be under pressure to resolve the Kashmir issue.” She cited the example of the passionate debate in UK’s House of Commons on the situation in Kashmir saying it had been motivated by Britain’s interest in CPEC.

Kashmiris, she said, expected Pakistan to have “a fixed state policy” on Kashmir. “Ad hoc policies should be shunned. Chinese would ultimately have to look at the issue, but lot would depend on how Pakistan moves on it,” Ms Mullick said urging mobilization at the grass root level for the Kashmir issue.

As published in Dailytimes in 17-Feb-17.

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