Self-determination is inherent right of Kashmiris
Freedom is that basic human right, which no force can suppress.” This was stated by Raja Muhammad Zafar ul Haq, Leader of the House in Senate, during his address as a Chief Guest, at a Seminar on on “The New Intifada in Indian Occupied Kashmir: A Review” here on Monday.
The seminar was organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) in collaboration with the Youth Forum for Kashmir (YFK).
Other dignitaries of the seminar who spoke on the occasion were Ahmed Quraishi Executive Director YFK; Lt. General (R) Abdul Qayyum, Senator Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN); Ahmer Bilal Soofi, Founding Member ABS & Co and Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan; Mr. Altaf Hussain Wani, Senior Leader All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Ms. Shaista Safi, Lobbyist YFK and Mr. Ali Muhammad Khan, MNA Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI).
Zafar ul Haq spoke about how in the last century the use of force by the colonial powers was eventually defeated by the people’s struggle for freedom. With regards to India, he stated that for a country which claims to be a democracy, their reactions do not go in line with the democratic theme. He stated that Pakistan’s diplomatic attempts to solve this issue have been repeatedly disrespected. Until India realises that violence is not the answer, peace cannot be achieved. He reaffirmed that Pakistan clearly does not advocate violence and has repeatedly appealed to the international community to take notice of this issue. He hoped that their sacrifices would result in peace.
Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman Board of Governors, ISSI, in his welcome remarks commemorated Burhan Wani’s martyrdom. He said that it was an occasion to reiterate our solidarity with the people of Kashmir. Needless to say, the Kashmir issue has been a horrendous tale of repression but though Kashmiri resistance has waxed and waned it has never stopped. The right of self-determination is an inherent right and so it cannot be asserted with terrorism. He went on to lay emphasis on the importance of finding a timely proactive action.
Quraishi stated that this was a good time to discuss this issue because something has changed towards the end of last year. It began with the murder of Burhan Wani which galvanised an entire generation in Kashmir and led to the UNHCR breaking its almost fifty year silence in its September 2016 and March 2017 sessions thus raising hopes.
Soofi pointed out that the new movement in Kashmir represents another unique opportunity to Kashmiris. The legal feature of this recent wave of intifada is that it is indigenous. This is very crucial because now the rise of the movement is not attributable to any third party and is in line with the international law. He also went on to highlight that for the first time there is a tremendous interest of the international media in this issue. The new environment and new paradigm requires new legal appraisal in addition to activism coupled with a strong academic footing.
Wani illustrated that the repression in Kashmir is an old saga and Kashmiri Azadi (independence) is now a household concept. He explained the martyrdom of Burhan Wani and stated that Wani’s martyrdom gave a new life to this movement by using social media to bring forth the youth of Kashmir. This made him unique.
Lt. General (R) Abdul Qayyum pointed out that in this globalised world everything is inter-connected; hence, regional issues cannot be separated from each other. Pakistan is at the forefront in the war on terror. Fighting at the Line of Control (LoC) only serves as an impediment in that. It is hence imperative that all parties should sit together in a conducive environment and settle this issue through dialogue.
Ms. Safi highlighted that how July 8, 2016 witnessed yet another cold-blooded murder, nothing new for Kashmiri’s but this murder brought about a change. People were forced to say that Kashmir is not a dead but in fact one of the deadliest issues the world faces. The time is ripe for the youth to come forward and get out of this vicious cycle.
Mr. Ali Khan affirmed that Pakistan will always stand by the people of Kashmir. A vital question which arises is what has been done after Wani’s martyrdom. The real enemy needs to be identified. The anti-Indian rhetoric needs to be reinforced. The actual goal of solving this issue needs to be kept in sight. Ambassador Mahmood concluded the seminar by giving the vote of thanks and reiterated what the speakers said reaffirming that Pakistan will always stand by Kashmiri people.