By Fawad Hashmey
LONDON, May 10 (APP): Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Atiq Ahmed Khan has urged Great Britain to lead international initiative on untangling the Kashmir issue. Speaking at a round table conference on ‘Indo-Pak relations and impediments to a way forward on Kashmir’ at the British Parliament here last evening, he pointed out that Kashmir issue is a legacy of the British colonial rule in the sub-continent and therefore the country muster diplomatic and political backing of the entire international community in resolving this 63-year-old question.“The strategic location of the State of Jammu and Kashmir demands a robust international role for a final, peaceful negotiated settlement.It needs geo-pragmatic approach,” he said.
The AJK Prime Minister said being friend of both Pakistan and India, the UK can play a very crucial, futuristic role in this whole process.
“No one is more knowledgeable about Kashmir, Kashmiris than the UK.The history radar of Great Britain cannot miss Kashmir,” he asserted.
The conference, held at the House of Lords, was organised by Justice Foundation Kashmir Centre in conjunction with All Parties Parliamentary Group on Kashmir and chaired by Lord Qurban Hussain who was officiating for Lord Nazir Ahmed, Chair, APPGK.
Spelling out a number of initiatives for removal of barriers leading towards eventual solution of the problem, Sardar Atiq said opportunities of intra regional contacts within Jammu and Kashmir should open.
He was of the view that Muzaffarabad-Srinagar highway be turned into an attractive earning international tourism and commerce highway with the trade trucks driving right to the European markets.
Speaking about last week’s two-day Global Discourse on Kashmir in Brussels, he said healthy EU-OIC collaboration has emerged on the issue where the Islamic Conference was represented by its special representative on Kashmir Ambassador Abdullah Abdur Rehman Alim.
The AJK Prime Minister reminded the gathering that Kashmir remains the core irritant in good relations between Pakistan and India and the disputed Himalayan region is the key to both regional and global peace.
“In the configuration of Pakistan-India ties, Kashmir occupies a pivotal position, a key to peace, normality, progressive prosperity in that region.”
Sardar Atiq further mentioned that Kashmir’s unsettlement continues to affect the thinking, approach, mindset, range of imaginations, perceptions, strategic settings in the whole region.
Speaking about various Indo-Pak dialogues on Kashmir in the past, the AJK Prime Minister said the Kashmiris have demonstrated their preference for peace, an environment of friendliness between the two neighbouring country.
“We believe firmly that only in a stable, durable peace 1.2 billion peoples in South Asia can achieve their economic progress and human welfare. In confrontation all is lost.”
He said the Kashmiris living across the Line of Control, those settled in Pakistan or the overseas are not against negotiated solution to the Kashmir dispute.
The AJK Premier suggested that as a part of interim measures the Line of Control needs to be made freely functional Line of Commerce, rendering it gradually as a free passage and finally its non-existence.
Underlining tangible measures, he said the current 21-item intra-Kashmir trade should be made open, all marketable and channelled through banking system, introduction of joint intra-Kashmir sports, academic events, establishment of joint Pakistan-India-Kashmir Development Fund and exchange of professionals, media, and joint tourism can be confidence restorative initiatives.
Sardar Atiq also pointed out dangerous imbalances and spoke of the presence of over 800,000 Indian military, para military and informal forces in the IOK. He mentioned the human rights violations and the death and abduction of Kashmir youth, women and even doctors and the discovery of mass graves.
He urged India to withdraw all repressive measures including withdrawal of military forces and freedom for Kashmir leaders to travel abroad.
Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner in the UK Asif Durrani said his country will continue to provide diplomatic, political and moral support to the people of Kashmir and favour their right to self-determination. He said the resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue after two years is a positive development.
Prof.Richard Bonney, an eminent Kashmiri expert, in his discourse was of the view that the confidence building measures should translate to ownership building measures as a future for Kashmir.
“The first and fundamental innovation in moving from a CMB-based to an OBM-based future for Kashmir is to develop a mechanism whereby the genesis, planning and implementation of future measures for peace rests with the people of divided Kashmir. Not only do they need to understand and own the confidence building measures for their future sustainability, they need to plan and own that which is likely to be of greatest benefit to themselves.”
A number of British MPs , Lord Qurban, Prof. Nazir Shawl, Director,Kashmir Centre, London, Majid Tramboo, Director, Kashmir Centre, Brussels, also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the various aspects of Kashmir issue and the need for the international community to exercise greater role in facilitating its solution.