British Parliamentary delegation meets AJK President, discussed Kashmir issue

Islamabad:  Sardar Masood Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, at a press conference held here today, condemned killings, blindings and maiming of Kashmiris by the Indian occupation forces as well as actions of persecution and victimization against  Kashmiri leaders in order to intimidate them into submission to the illegal Indian rule.

While welcoming the visiting British Parliamentary delegation, the AJK President urged major powers and the UN Security Council to invest in a diplomatic process to find a solution to the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. The President especially thanked the Labour Party for its efforts in highlighting the Kashmir issue.

He urged the British House of Commons to use its influence to persuade the UN and other international forums to bring to an end state sponsored violence and terrorism in IOK and promote a political dialogue.

“The Kashmiris want a democratic and peaceful solution”, President Masood Khan said and appealed the UK parliamentarians to help them achieve this goal.

Graham Jones, MP said that this visit will help acquire firsthand knowledge of the circumstances, the people and the situation at the LOC. He hoped that he will be better informed of the situation leading to positive advocacy of the Kahsmir issue.

The AJK President urged the international community for the release of Shabbir Shah, Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi and Massarrat Aalam Butt; and stop harassment of Hurriyat Leaders Syed Ali Gilani, and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.

The President said that the occupation authorities were subjecting Kashmiri detainees to inhuman and degrading treatment in various jails. “This must stop”, he said.

“Cordon and search operations are being used by the occupation forces as a tool to kill young men, vandalize houses and property, and impose collective punishment on the entire Kashmiri population”, he said.

Shadow Minister for Justice, Yasmin Qureshi MP had assured that the issue of Kashmir will be highlighted in the British parliament and we shall keep raising it in order to sensitize the British people on the atrocities taking place in occupied Kashmir.

Sardar Masood Khan said that designation of Hizbul Mujahideen, which supports the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people, is most regrettable.  “We deplore the decision and hope that good sense would prevail to revise it”, he said.

Faisal Rashid MP and Muhammad Yasin MP said that their constituencies consisted of a large number of Kashmiris and that they will consistently raise the issue of Kashmir in the Parliament. They appreciated the efforts of the President and thanked him for the invitation to visit Azad Jammu and Kashmir which they said would be a chance for them to gather firsthand knowledge of the situation.

The President said that gradual demilitarization of the Indian forces from the occupied territory would be the first step towards holding a plebiscite mandated by the UN Security Council resolutions.

The President expressed serious concern over attempts to take away even some minor privileges given to Kashmiris in regard to permanent residence, employment in the state , acquisition of property and educational scholarships under Article 35-A of the Indian constitution. “These anti-Kashmiri measures”, he said, “would further hurt the Kashmiris who are already living under siege and state terrorism”, the President said.

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