Moeed’s clarity on Kashmir

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SPECIAL Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yousaf, in an interview with an Indian journalist, has spoken clearly on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, reflecting aspirations of people of Pakistan and those of Kashmiris. He set five pre-conditions for the resumption of “meaningful dialogue” with India to resolve all outstanding issues including the longstanding Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) dispute. He highlighted Pakistan’s desire for peace but asserted that meaningful dialogue can only be held if India releases all political prisoners in Kashmir, ends inhuman blockade and restrictions, rescind domicile law that allows non-Kashmiris to settle in the disputed territory, stops human rights abuses and ends state terrorism in Pakistan.
This is one of the more comprehensive and realistic illustrations of Pakistan’s position on the core issue of Kashmir and have the potential to address sufferings of Kashmiris if the country sticks to these conditions. In the past, in its zest to please India, successive rulers deviated from principled stand and engaged in meaningless process of talks with India that landed nowhere. They also offered unilateral concessions to India and agreed to so-called confidence building measures aimed at creating conducive atmosphere for talks but nothing positive transpired and instead India strengthened its hold on the occupied territory through a combination of constitutional, legal, political and administrative measures. India crossed all limits by formally making J&K as part of the country, imposing world’s longest and crippling lockdown in the region and taking measures designed to change the demography of the area, which is predominantly Muslim. There is, therefore, no logic in resumption of dialogue with India until and unless New Delhi revokes its illegal measures and restores previous status of the territory with clear pronouncements about its disputed nature and the need for its fair and just solution as per wishes of Kashmiri people. The Special Assistant has also done well in categorically stating that Pakistan would hold dialogue with India provided Kashmiris are included in the process as a third party. Kashmiris are major stakeholders in the conflict and any process of dialogue that excludes them would be deprived of credibility. Pakistan, no doubt, has always been consulting Kashmiri leadership both before and after talks with India but there is need for direct inclusion of Kashmiris in the dialogue aimed at deciding about their future.

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