The abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A with regard to the special status of Kashmir by the Indian government on August 5 is not only a breach of United Nations Security Council Resolutions but also a flagrant violation of New Delhi’s own constitution. Even pro-Indian parties in the occupied Kashmir protested against the withdrawal of the special status of Kashmir.
These were the views expressed by the key speakers of a webinar on ‘The Possible Way Forward for Jammu and Kashmir’ organised by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) here.
The experts suggested that Islamabad needs to extend its foreign outreach to promote Kashmir cause at the international level. Dr. Maleeha Lodhi regretted that Pakistan had not succeeded in convening a special session of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) on Kashmir. She also called for reaching out to the Human Rights Council in Geneva to bring Kashmir issue to the international forefront on humanitarian grounds. We need to have a clear and consistent policy on Kashmir on which national consensus should be evolved, she added. Dr. Lodhi opposed the idea of appeasing India in the face of the actions it had taken against the people of Kashmir in violation of its international and its own Constitutional obligations. “In the context of Kashmir, right makes might,” said Dr. Lodhi. She was of the view that internationally recognized right to self-determination of Kashmiris needed the support of Pakistan.
Ambassador Aziz Ahmed Khan was of the view that the civil society in India had been weakened under the wave of Hindutva and could not play a role on Kashmir. He emphasised on the Government of Pakistan to continue lobbying for the Kashmir cause. He also called for a strengthened parliamentary role on Kashmir. He was of the view that the Kashmir Committees of both the houses needed to be more proactive in highlighting the Kashmir cause at international forums.
Major General (r) Mohammad Samrez Salik was of the view that China’s increasing regional ambitions and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had added a new dimension to the India-Pakistan relations in general and the issue of Kashmir in particular. He called for a proactive role of the media for sensitising the international media toward the plight of Kashmiris under Indian occupation. Pakistan should also seek help from the Kashmir diaspora, he stressed.
Ambassador Riaz Khokhar was of the view that India needed to be seen as a Hindu state instead of a secular state to understand its dynamics. He shared that even leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, the father of Indian secularism, were not secular at heart. He further added that Pakistanis needed to reignite their passions about Kashmir to be able to raise international awareness on the subject.—KMS