Authored by: Muhammad Adil Sivia
Edited by: Sadia Kazmi
Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Islamabad
Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) organized a monthly In-House Seminar titled “Kashmir Conflict & Regional Security in South Asia” held on February 15, 2017. The event was chaired by Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema, President/Executive Director SVI. The guest speakers included Ms. Tooba Khurshid, Research Fellow, Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI); former Ambassador of Pakistan Sohail Amin (President IPRI); former Ambassador and Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Riaz Hussain Khokhar; Mrs. Mushaal Hussein Mullick, wife of Yasin Malik, Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF); former Ambassador of Pakistan Ashraf Jehangir Qazi; and Dr. Shabana Fayyaz, Assistant Professor, Defence and Strategic Studies Department, Quaid-i-Azam University.
Ms. Sadia Kazmi, Director Academics, Policy & Program, SVI welcomed the guest speakers and participants. She told the participants that SVI holds monthly In-Houses, Panel Discussions and Seminars on regular basis and this event was the continuation of the same practice. She extended her gratitude and welcomed the distinguished panel of speakers for finding time from their busy schedule and agreeing to speak on the occasion. While sharing her own observations on the subject, she stated that Kashmir remains to be an important issue and not just a conflict. She stressed upon finding a solution to this ever-prolonged conflict. She shared that the focal point in this issue are the people of Kashmir who are being marginalized and murdered for their freedom struggle. So the issue should be seen from humanitarian perspective. She further said that Kashmir also carries strategic implication. Ever since the indigenous movement has taken momentum, the exchange of fire across the Line of Control (LOC) has also increased. Therefore, the possibility of it turning into a conflict between India and Pakistan cannot be ruled out. Hence, there has been a constant pressure on South Asia to maintain the strategic stability in wake of these recent developments. She invited the speakers to further elaborate on these dimensions and to evaluate a way forward on Kashmir.
The first speaker, Ms. Tooba Khurshid presented a detailed primer on contemporary situation in Kashmir. She also touched upon the historical background of the Kashmir Conflict. She shared that the state of Jammu and Kashmir was a Muslim majority princely state with Maharaja Hari Singh, a non-Muslim as its ruler. Like all the other princely states under Partition Plan, Kashmir was given the option to join either Pakistan or India, However, the ruler wanted to maintain the independent status for the state. Majority of the people being Muslims wanted to join Pakistan and resorted to popular uprising against Maharaja who under duress and in efforts to save his rule signed an instrument of accession with India. For complete disregard of people’s aspirations by the ruler, armed struggle began and India found an excuse to send its forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Eventually the United Nations (UN) brokered a ceasefire agreement that was signed on 13 August 1948 whereby India gave its pledge to hold plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir to know the will of people. India accepted in a number of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions that the future of state will be decided through democratic method of free and impartial plebiscite. The resolutions also addressed the legal status of instrument of accession that Maharaja Hari Singh had signed with India. UNSC through these resolutions declared that final disposition of state rests with people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and they will exercise their will through free and transparent plebiscite held under the supervision of the UN observers. India accepted that instrument of accession signed by Maharaja had no mandate from the people of the princely state. Statements by Indian leadership and representatives in the UN affirmed the pledge they had made to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and international community for holding plebiscite for final solution about the accession of state to either of the dominion under partition plan.
India through different delaying tactics and using the excuse of absence of enabling conditions for holding the plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir tried to dash the hopes of people of the state for exercising their democratic right. India is not talking about plebiscite anymore and has backtracked from pledges that it gave to people of Jammu and Kashmir and to the international community at United Nations platform. It has been following the policy of brutal suppression of Kashmiri people by inflicting sufferings. Massive scale violence has been used to make people accept Indian illegal occupation of the state. The criminal silence of the international community and the United Nations towards the sufferings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is humiliating for the whole humanity. However, the Indian suppression has been counterproductive and the whole Kashmir has been united under the call for right of self-determination. Citing figures from different reports by Kashmir Media Service, Miss Khurshid gave a glimpse of human rights violations and war crimes by the occupying forces. She shared that thousands are being killed in the custody of occupying Indian forces, there are forced disappearances, orphans, widows and thousands of cases of women and young girls being raped and children molested. The extra judicial killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a 22 year old Kashmiri youth activist, on 8th July, 2016 by the Indian Occupational Forces in the southern Pulwama town of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, led to massive protests. The Indian forces used excessive force and trampled the fundamental freedom of the Kashmiri people with complete impunity. This led to a wide spread wave of anger and protests throughout the Jammu and Kashmir which are on going to date. A detailed data on human rights violations and war crimes committed by Indian forces since July 8, 2016 till February 14, 2017 was presented. The data was collected from different reports prepared by All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC). To suppress the post Burhan Wani protests, the Indian occupying forces have killed 173 people, over 7000 people have been injured by pellet shot, with 40 people who lost their eye sight, while 1,200 people lost their one eye to the pellets, and thousands of protestors have been arrested.
Ms. Khurshid gave examples of different international conventions and treaties that recognize the natural right of self-determination. United Nations Charter Article 1 (2) and Article 55, Article 1 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples 1514 (XV) and Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all recognize the natural right of people for self-determination without any discrimination and prejudice. India, which is signatory to many international conventions on protection of human rights such as International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child etc., is bound to perform its obligations even in occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir. The oppression, occupation and injustice against the people of Jammu and Kashmir must end Ms. Khurshid further highlighted the dangers of outstanding dispute of Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan on which both states have gone to war three times. Considering that both the countries are nuclear powers, the resolution of Kashmir conflict is necessary to ensure enduring peace in the region. She called upon the international community to pressurize India to allow independent experts and monitors in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir. India must be made to allow humanitarian assistance and medical aid to people in desperate need. International community must play its role and hold the perpetrators of human rights violations accountable. Denouncing the the inhumane and barbaric acts of Indian occupying forces in Jammu and Kashmir is a moral obligation of states who have signed human rights conventions. She demanded the champions of human rights protection, especially the Western countries to pressurize India to allow fundamental freedoms like freedom of expression and assembly to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The immediate access of international journalists in occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir was necessary for unearthing the grave human rights violations and war crimes committed by the occupied forces. She concluded by saying that the only solution to the conflict rests with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and is based on the UN resolutions that grant the right of self-determination through free and transparent plebiscite.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema before inviting the next speaker raised a question as to what should be Pakistan’s course of action about Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in the renewed circumstances. He highlighted the indigenous nature of the freedom movement in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and asked whether Pakistan should stick to previous diplomatic and political strategy or adopt different measures in the light of new developments. He then invited Ambassador Sohail Amin to deliberate on these issues.
Ambassador Sohail Amin expressed his views on “Review of Pakistan’s Politico Diplomatic Role in the Kashmir Movement/Conflict” and started by saying that finding the solution to Kashmir dispute is most important to the people of Pakistan. The third generation of Pakistan holds the same feelings for Kashmir as the one he held when he was a young man. This is ingrained in the minds of the people of Pakistan; hence, it puts a constant pressure on the governments on both sides to do something about it. He explained that Pakistan has tried every possible approach in this regard. Talking about approaches for dispute resolution he explained there could be two different approaches that could help solve the dispute: either through step-by-step means; or by directly addressing the main issue first which in case of India and Pakistan is the Kashmir issue. Pakistan has followed both approaches. It has made use of multilateral approach, as well as bilateral approaches. Pakistan has tried every possible option but even then India has imposed wars on Pakistan because of the same issue of Kashmir, which to date remains unresolved. Talking about the diplomatic approaches for resolution of Kashmir dispute, he spoke about Tashkent Declaration: a multilateral approach, while at Agra and Simla Pakistan employed bilateral approaches, but none of these actually worked. He further mentioned about various efforts in this regard such as the dialogue between General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and Rajiv Gandhi in 1985, later in 1990 when the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif once again raised the issue of Kashmir in 1990. In 1997, again Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif started the bilateral dialogue with Indian Prime Minister I. K. Gujral and this time eight issues including the Kashmir issue was part of the agenda but the nuclear blasts once again brought the process to an abrupt end. In 2004, the efforts once again were initiated at the Foreign Secretary level but this time Mumbai incident was instrumental in halting the process.
With the change of government in Pakistan in 2013 and new government in India in 2014, the hopes to revive the Kashmir issue once again resurfaced. Pakistan made sure not to lose this opportunity and PM Nawaz Sharif attended the swearing-in ceremony of Indian PM Narendra Modi despite the domestic opposition. However in response to this good will gesture, Pakistan only received belligerent statements from Indian Union Minster as well as from Prime Minister Modi himself, particularly when he spoke about 1971 separation of Bangladesh and war between Pakistan and India. Grave human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOK) are extremely disturbing for Pakistan; this is the area where Pakistan is focusing the most as far as diplomatic efforts are concerned especially during last one year. India keeps raising the issue of Pakistan’s alleged involvement in terrorism. Pakistan presents the counter argument that it is in fact India, which is inciting terrorism in Pakistan, especially in Baluchistan. Pakistan has presented its case about Indian involvement in subversive activities and terrorism promotion in Pakistan to the United Nations Secretary General. International community understands and recognizes that the sacrifices of Pakistan in war against terror are unprecedented. Pakistan has paid much in blood and economic losses because of war on terror. While the international community accepts the sacrifices that Pakistan has made for fighting terrorism, the biasness towards India is starkly visible. The big market that India offers to the international community, keeps the international community from speaking against India sponsored human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir and Indian involvement in spreading terrorism in Pakistan.
Speaking about diplomatic isolation of Pakistan, he termed it as a misperception and propaganda being spread by different lobbies, India being the most active among them. He summarized his arguments by making useful recommendations that until talks with India get resumed our priority should be to keep the Kashmir issue alive at all levels. Pakistan on regular basis should keep the international community informed about the atrocities being committed by the Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir and the subversive activities that India is carrying out in Baluchistan and in other parts of Pakistan. In addition to this, Pakistan should stop being apologetic and making efforts to resume the dialogue unless India is ready to discuss Kashmir without any preconditions. While speaking about the trajectory of Pakistan-India relations, he said that the relations are likely to remain frozen for several months to come. Pakistan can utilize this time to develop its relations with Russia and to make progress on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as quickly as possible. Despite the fact that CPEC will not only bring connectivity to the region but would also benefit India itself, India continues to be the only country that opposes such project. India is not interested in CPEC purely out of animosity towards Pakistan.
The second speaker former Ambassador and Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Riaz Hussain Khokhar shared his views, analysis and way forward for Pakistan for ultimate resolution of Kashmir dispute. He started with flagging the quiet complex nature of issue and said there is no solution to Kashmir issue that one can recommend at this point in time. Indian government has always been very clear about Kashmir and there is a national consensus in India that no matter what the situation, there is no question of any “give” on Kashmir. India is inflexible and the situation has been getting worse with every successive government. Speaking about his personal experiences and interactions with Indians, both as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India and as Foreign Secretary as well, he mentioned that in fact he was the one, who started the talks in Lahore in 2004. He asked his Indian counterpart, “Don’t you think we should think out of the box”. His reply was very interesting, he said, “you are welcome to think out of the box, but we don’t need it, we know what our interests are”. This is one example but most bilateral meetings are like that and end getting nowhere. While talking about back channels, Ambassador Khokar spoke about President Pervez Musharraf’s four points formula for Kashmir. Even though some progress was made in this regard but nothing more could be followed through as such proposals are not sellable in Pakistan and certainly not in India. While talking about PM Manmohan Singh, whom he termed extremely decent person, he said that he lacked the political will and capacity to sell that kind of solution to Indian people. On the Pakistani side as well, President Musharraf was also a loner. He maintained that General Pervez Musharraf did not have a support either from his corps commanders or from his cabinet. In fact, he never consulted the cabinet; even the then Prime Minister of Pakistan was not aware of the real proposals. He confessed that he being the Foreign Secretary was not involved either.
Further talking about the relative power of the two countries, Ambassador Khokhar said India is a huge and internationally sought after country, while Pakistan’s presence in the international community is relatively missing. Making his point he said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif although made a speech in United Nations in September last year and tried to present a real picture of Kashmir issue, none of the forty head of states who spoke after him made a reference to Kashmir. This shows what a complex situation we are in. Today India is putting Kashmiris into mincing machine and yet there is no light at the end of the tunnel. India has adopted an attitude of a “no compromise” on Kashmir. He reiterated that it is an extremely complex situation where despite of all the efforts by Pakistan, India is just not interested in resolving the issue. Even the recent offer by the US President Donald Trump about Kashmir dispute stands meaningless in face of India’s stubbornness. Hence, the Kashmir situation brings India and Pakistan to the position of stalemate.
While suggesting the future policy to Pakistan in this regard, he said we need to draw lessons from our experience of last 70 years. First Pakistan should address its internal problems. Along with that, there is a need for sincere and honest effort on part of the political leader towards Kashmir issue. Secondly, Pakistan should step up its campaign for highlighting human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has categorically stated that Kashmir problem is a human rights problem between Pakistan and India. Not just that, there is another element of self-determination attached to it, which is essentially linked to the territory. Hence, it is also a territorial dispute involving right to self-determination. Presently there is consensus in Pakistan on having good relations with India, however there is an acute absence of clarity at the political level. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman’s appointment as Chairman of the Kashmir Committee, with no progress of any kind since last two years, tells a lot about the “sincerity” of this government regarding the Kashmir issue. The image building is an important factor and appointment of such a person as the Chairman is damaging the cause.
After her speech, Mrs. Mushaal Hussein Mullick was invited to speak on “Contemporary Dynamics of the Kashmir Movement”. She shared that there are many facets to the current situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. These can be enumerated as: 1) Human Rights issue, 2) Political or Democratic dimension, and 3) Economic aspect. She pointed out that people in occupied Jammu and Kashmir are dying while fighting for their right to freedom. There are war crimes being committed by Indian occupying forces, especially after the brutal killing of Burhan Wani. His killing led to the longest army curfew that caused huge economic blockade for months. Starvation itself became a major cause for the death of number of people including babies. Lack of electricity and gas shortages in winters is making the situation even worse. There is a medical emergency since there is no supply of basic lifesaving drugs. Hospitals, doctors and ambulances are being attacked. Kashmir is a living hell with no law and order. Youth is being slaughtered and Hurriyat leaders are being arrested by Indian forces every other day.
Speaking about the recent brutality of Indian forces, she said that the level of violence and madness from Indian side is accelerating to the level where the situation has gotten out of their own control. What we are witnessing right now is complete savageness by the Indian state. Being a student of economics herself, she said that it is the economic interest for which the international community is quite conveniently ignoring the bloodshed and the gross violation of human rights in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. India is being seen as a lucrative destination, which provides big economic market. By the end of the day, it all comes down to selfish capitalist interest with no place for morality. However, CPEC brings some hope for Kashmir. If it materializes, CPEC will attract almost ¼ of the world trade. However, there is a negative propaganda as well which highlights India’s concerns and its implications for Kashmir in the context of CPEC. Nonetheless, it is inevitable that once Pakistan becomes the hub of world’s economic activity, there will naturally be a pressure on India to resolve the Kashmir issue. Talking about the recent debate in British Parliament regarding Kashmir, she mentioned that majority had supported the right to self-determination of Kashmiri people. It is only because of CPEC and the economic interests of the internationally community which led to this major consensus on the right of Kashmiri people. In an interesting wake of events, Russia that has traditionally been an ally to India is now eager to join CPEC. This change in the world dynamics give some hope that they might change their previous stance over Kashmir and display an approach independent of India. The economic factor alone is attracting several countries towards the CPEC project. China is already a major stakeholder and now Russia and Britain have also shown eagerness to join CPEC. However, when it comes to morality, there is hardly any sign of it. Britain should have been the first to resolve the Kashmir issue since it is they who left it unfinished. She was not too hopeful about the help from the US in this regard. She maintained that currently the US is hell bent on facilitating India in every aspect with the main aim to counter Chinese economic influence in the region.
Talking about the key players in the United Resistance Leadership, she mentioned that Mr. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mr. Yasin Malik, Mr. Shabir Shah, and Ms. Asiya Andrabi are the ones spearheading a highly disciplined and organized freedom struggle. The level of unity despite India’s efforts to divide the Hurriyat leadership is impeccable. The continuity, the consistency, and the management being displayed by all those fighting for their right is just exemplary. The whole campaign has been organized systematically where one day is reserved for the rallies for the women of Kashmir, the second day is for the rally for children of Kashmir, one day has been allotted for the cleaning of entire valley, and the fourth day is for Bait-ul-Mal that exists in the mosques. Even in the face of economic blockade and medical emergency, the people of Kashmir are doing everything to survive on the self-help basis. Mosques are keeping the extra stock for the people who do not have food in their homes. Indian state is bent upon wiping out the entire population of Kashmir so that they can bring about demographic changes. Despite the presence of almost eight hundred thousand paramilitary and military forces personnel of India, the will of the Kashmiri people is intact and unbreakable. She mentioned that recently the Supreme Court of India took a decision that openly challenges the sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir. The decision allows Indian banks to confiscate and hold the properties of Kashmiri people. Kashmiri people are starving because of economic blockade imposed by the Indian state that is a sheer violation of human rights. Pellet guns are being used blinding and killing the protestors and leaving several of them handicapped. Thousands of people have been disappeared in the past six to seven months. Now the decision by Indian Supreme Court is the direct attack on the economic rights of the Kashmiri people. She suggested that there is a need to contact World Economic Forum (WEF) and be held accountable for their indifference. She suggested that the Kashmiri movement needs to be seen and addressed from all the angles including the economic, cultural, legal and political dimensions. She requested all in attendance to intellectually contribute to the Kashmir movement by writing research papers on the realities in Kashmir. She suggested that CPEC should be made into China-Pakistan Peace Corridor (CPPC) because without peace, it is impossible to have economic stability.
Dr. Cheema thanked Mrs. Mullick for highlighting reality of Indian atrocities in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He then requested Mr. Shamsul Mulk former Chairman Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Pakistan, to share his views on the subject and to specifically deliberate upon the threats coming from India as PM Modi recently said that “blood and water cannot flow together”. He asked him to delve into the possibility of any threat to Indus Water Treaty (IWT), coming from such belligerent statements by the Indian leadership.
Mr. Shamsul Mulk stated that at the moment Indian policy is to remain steadfast against Pakistan to the extent that Pakistan will have to bow down one day. He stressed that the solution to the Kashmir issue is through self determination. This factor should not be ignored. There is no need to think out of the box when the very solution to Kashmir problem is right in front of the eyes. He further said that it is the most natural way of resolving the dispute. Pakistan would not be doing any favor by supporting Kashmiris in their legitimate right to self determination. It is their natural right that is intertwined with Pakistan’s major interest since 81% of Pakistan’s water flows through Kashmir. Pakistan is a single water basin country i.e. Indus Basin and it flows through Kashmir. This is a natural arrangement done by God. Hence Pakistan cannot afford to lose or compromise on Kashmir because with Kashmir is attached the very fate of Pakistan. He shared that India is trying to destroy the ecology of upper Indus Basin, which will have direct implications for the rivers in Pakistan. The Ravi river has already been lost to India and now Pakistan cannot afford to lose more to them. Identifying the main cause behind the present day sufferings in Pakistan, he said that when ignorants become leaders, this is what happens. One has to be as incorruptible and fearless as Quaid-e-Azam Muhmmad Ali Jinnah. There has to be a sense of accountability, which unfortunately is lacking in today’s leadership.
Mr. Mulk further suggested that Pakistan needs to send the message to the people of Kashmir that they are not alone. They should be made to realize that it is not just their fight but it is the very wish of Pakistan as well. He opined that Kashmir’s accession with Pakistan is divine’s wish. One should not ignore the divine signals in the form of geographical contiguity. Hence, Pakistan should insist on going back to the basic question of self-determination. It is the right, which no one can deny to the Kashmiri people. At the same time, this issue should be seen from the water perspective. Pakistan should not wait for the day when India would have taken over its Western rivers by building dams and powerhouses. He concluded by saying that one should have good relations with its neighbor but not at the cost of its own survival.
Dr. Cheema requested former Ambassador Ashraf Jahangir Qazi to evaluate Pakistan’s policy on Kashmir and to suggest a way forward for resolving the dispute as per the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Ambassador Qazi stated that in discussions like these we tend to mix rhetoric with reality and sometimes move towards dream like statements where we believe that morality determines things. In reality, morality has a low priority in International Politics. He gave reference to the Chinese experience quoting a retired Chinese diplomat that China has seen success and failure, unity and disunity, intervention and freedom. It has drawn major lessons from its ancient history and learnt that most of the problems fall into three main categories.
There are problems and issues that cannot be postponed not even for a day and need to be immediately responded to. If left unattended, it will cause irreparable damage. The second category of problems is more complex and required deep understanding of the situation. With these kinds of problems, one needs to work out an appropriate approach by consulting the wise heads available. The aim is to work out a strategy and follow through it to eventually resolve the problem and hence it is a time taking process. The third category of problems are even more complex and so deeply rooted that even generations after generations find it hard to resolve the issue. However, the challenge here is to prepare the next generation to find the solution. This will help the next generation be in a better position to at least address the issue. In this way, one contributes to the eventual outcome and resolution of the problem by preparing the next generation. The important thing is to be able to identify the correct category for each problem. China developed the skill of identifying correct category over a long period of time. Similarly, Pakistan needs to decide on its own as to which category the problem of Jammu and Kashmir should be put into. China cannot advice Pakistan on this.
Now applying the Chinese wisdom to the Kashmir issue, one can see that it has already been seventy years, which is not a short time. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s entire foreign policy, including its Kashmir policy has been a series of short-term policies. This is the reason why they have remained exclusively short term and could never add to anything. It could not be added up to a medium term policy and certainly never to a longer-term policy. In other words they have never been accumulative; they have just been short term policies. He stressed upon the fact that with regards to Kashmir issue, Pakistan is fairly a friendless country. Even Chinese support cannot be banked upon since Pakistan itself has caused worries for China with regards to the policy of proxies and so called non-state actors in Kashmir. China is concerned that instability caused by these activities inside Kashmir can also spread to Chinese Western region. He further shared that even though China is the most reliable ally of Pakistan, but it will never add Pakistan’s problems with India to its own problems with India. According to him, Kashmir issue belongs to the third category which demands a longer term solution. In the long term, along with devising an appropriate Kashmir policy, one can also work towards making Pakistan strong. One can shift Pakistan from being an exclusively a security state to a developmental state. This will also help in looking after the security of the state more efficiently. Similarly, with regards to Kashmir issue, we have to recognize certain realities. Once there was a time when the people of Kashmir were overwhelmingly pro-Pakistan, and even used Pakistani currency. However, after the Kargil incident things have remarkably changed. A new perception has evolved that Pakistan has no control over its Kashmir policy. The Pakistani leadership and concerned authorities need to understand that the people’s struggle is always required to be backed by the state wholeheartedly. The people need to be ensured that they are not alone in their struggle.
Pakistan needs to be more realistic, it needs to recognize that Kashmir is a long term problem. In the process, there is a need to develop Pakistan, increase its options, as well as put efforts into image building and ensure that. Along with that Pakistan needs to display a more sincere and dedicated approach towards Kashmir. The human rights situation is immediately connected to the political rights situation wherein the human rights situation exists in Kashmir solely because of the denial of political rights. Even though this is a moral argument, correct in law and morality, the world still does not seem to care. One of the reasons behind this is that Pakistan has not been able to create a reliable image for itself in the international community. So there is a need to improve Pakistan’s image by developing Pakistan and ultimately winning the respect of the world. He wrapped up his speech by suggesting that in order to plead the case of Kashmir, the lawyer, which in this case is Pakistan, needs to hold a good image so it could be listened to.
The next speaker Dr. Shabana Fayyaz, Assistant Professor, Defence and Strategic Studies Department, Quaid-i-Azam University, was invited to shed light on the regional security implications of the outstanding Kashmir dispute. She appreciated all the perspectives thus far shared by all the speakers regarding the issue had raised a valid question about the ground realities in Kashmir. She shared that in order to look at the regional security one needs to look at the emerging realities of the region. She agreed with Mrs. Mulick for rightly pointing out CPEC being a living reality. She stated that it is a reality with a number of threats and challenges attached to it and imbedded with lots of opportunities for Pakistan. Now the major challenge is how to how to build up on the opportunities. Is it possible to rope in India from political or economic perspective? This does sound like a viable option but India is a rich neighbor, a powerful state, crowded by much weaker and not so cohesive Pakistan. We have an example of India-Pakistan-Iran (IPI) Gas pipeline project, from which India backed out. This shows that India could still manage without being part of the gas pipeline project despite being in the dire need of gas supply. However recently with regards to the two ports i.e. Gwadar and Chabahar, there are positive signals coming from Pakistan and India that these ports should not be seen as hostile entities to each other rather as a major economic and strategic hubs of the Indian Ocean. Hence, Pakistan needs to keep a cautious approach where it could rope in India also. As an analyst, she suggested that Pakistan should adopt an alarmist approach. Pakistan is essentially a security state where most of its budget is dedicated for defence spending in the name of Kashmir. She stated that the political leadership of Pakistan as well as it army is on the same page as far as the Kashmir issue is concerned. It is ironic that there still has not been any progress on the Kashmir issue. It is not the insincerity of politicians but the incapability of instituting what they say by the system they are plugged in. If one talks to any Pakistani politician, even to any union councilor, they are clear in their mind that Kashmir is for Pakistan. Now question is what strategy to adopt. That is where the role of intelligentsia and other communities comes into play. She said that the dynamics of Kashmir are now changing where it doesn’t remain a regional issue anymore but has global ethos attached to it. On the importance of propaganda techniques, she shared that she was invited to India for a TV program hosted by Arnab Goswami where he questioned her about the rigged elections in Azad Kashmir. It was more of a blame game from both sides but ultimately the perspectives came out in open. This is what one needs to learn from India since it is quite good at making the world believe in their version of the fact. If one tells a lie hundred times, it becomes the truth. Same is the case with the truth as well. It may require to be told for more than hundred times but one has to be consistent with it. She encouraged the intelligentsia and political stalwarts of Pakistan to rethink on this important dimension.
In the end Lt. General (Retd) Khalid Naeem Lodhi commented that the efforts towards the Kashmir issue are not a favor to the people of Kashmir. Kashmir is as much a cause for Pakistan and both Kashmiris and Pakistanis need to take a mutual decision. The solution should be compatible with the interests of both. According to him, Kashmir either falls in the first or second category among the three categories identified by Ambassador Qazi. He mentioned that the difference between Pakistani and Indian potential is increasing with the passage of time. There are lesser chances of filling up this ever increasing gap and to wait for Pakistan to grow stronger. In fact, Pakistan would probably be even weaker than it is today. Hence something has to be done today on immediate basis or one wouldn’t be in a position to do anything at all if waited for next five, ten or fifty years. He also suggested that Pakistan should revisit its moral stance on Kashmir issue. Since it has been established that the world does not run on fair play, Pakistan’s stance on moral grounds will never work. Alternatively, there is a need for synergy of efforts in all realms.
The talks were followed by an extensive question and answer session.
Lieutenant General (Retd) Saeed uz Zafar said that we must understand that India has occupied princely state of Hyderabad by force, occupied princely state of Junagadh by force, it came as an instrument in creating Bangladesh through the use of force, it has physically invaded its neighbors or trespassed them down to Maldives. The governments in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and in Nepal are pro-India by force and whatever is happening inside Pakistan through different proxies that India is using is also by force. Kashmir was occupied by force; it is being retained by India by force. He made the point that India only understands when is spoken to from the position of power and through the language of force.
Ambassador Khokhar remarked that Simla agreement is one of the cleverest diplomatic documents that have ever been carved. It did protect Pakistan’s position. However when the President of Pakistan Pervaiz Musharraf publically denounced that the UN resolutions are irrelevant, it became hard to defend the diplomatic position. The stance of political governments on decisions taken by President Musharraf is confused and rather undecided. Even military solution is very complicated. We have had three wars with no results. Today, both sides being nuclear, military option does not seem to be viable, unless pushed into it.
Dr Cheema asked what lesson could one draw from the Palestinian case for the Kashmir issue. The Palestinians are not stronger than Kashmiris, it’s a non-conservative Arab state, and pro-American Arab states are not supporting them. Even then the Palestinian cause is very well supported at the international level. What lesson from this can be applied to Kashmir movement? Is there one? Ambassador Qazi replied that currently the image of Pakistan is not positive and there are several reasons behind this. Pakistan first has to address those reasons so that her image is improved. Only then it can increase her options and be hopeful of getting some success on Kashmir that has not been achieved in the last seventy years.
Mr. Abdullah Khan, Managing Director, Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies made a short comment agreeing with Lt. General (Retd) Lodhi that synergy is required in all efforts. He also mentioned the factor of high expectations that the people of Kashmir have from Pakistan. He shared that the people there are raising Pakistani flags right in front of India guns. Hence, Pakistan needs to shun her policy of inaction when hundreds of people are being sacrificed, and killed on daily basis. There are bigger expectations from Pakistan in which the Kahsmiri people do not rule out the military assistance.
Mr. Parvez Butt, former Chairman, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and former Secretary Science and Technology said that the only thing that is missing and badly required is the “effort” on our part. . He said that the responsibility lies with the people in the government to talk about the Kashmir issue on every day basis. The TV channels should regularly telecast programs on the plight of Kashmiri people.
Mr. Nokhaiz Ali, the Senior Environmentalist pointed out the importance of Pakistani and Indian narrative on Kashmir issue and that one should not ignore the association that Indians have with Kashmir. Only then, Pakistan will be in a position to better counter the Indian strategy. Additionally it is not affordable for Pakistan to go out of the way in support for Kashmiri people as anything as simple as peaceful struggle linked with Pakistan might be tagged as Pakistan sponsored act of terrorism. Hence, the Kashmiri people also need to understand that they will have to stand up for themselves.
Mr. Atle Hetland, Senior Norwegian Social Scientist, shared that the situation in Kashmir is horrible. He also suggested that for now solution could be found in having two Kashmirs for a while and let the young generation decide for their future.
Ms. Puruesh Chaudhary, Founder and President AGAHI Foundation said that there is a need for imagination and creativity for resolving the Kashmir dispute. For that one needs to get personally engaged and employ different tools and methods some of which Ambassador Qazi has already mentioned. During the discussion, the divine perspective was shared and highlighted along with the political dimension to the Kashmir issue. Now there is a need to work on the economic dimension and to see how Pakistan can help build Kashmir.
Mrs. Mushaal Hussein Mullick in her concluding remarks said that Kashmiris require more of people’s participation with Pakistan; it is Pakistan’s core issue. We do not just want seminars and round table conferences, we want public on roads protesting for us. We want you to eat, breathe and sleep the sufferings of Kashmiris people to realize that. She demanded the international community to shun its selective condemnation and silence.
In the end Dr. Cheema thanked the distinguished speakers and participants for coming over and actively participating in the discussion. He maintained that Kashmir is always an emotional issue in Pakistan and its earliest solution as per the UN resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people is what we want.
Media covered the proceeding of the In-House seminar: