Pakistan should provide material support to Kashmiris: Former Defence Minister

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Former Defence Minister Lt Gen Naeem Khalid Lodhi urged Pakistan to provide weapons and all kinds of material support to Kashmiris to fight against occupation forces as their freedom struggle is legitimate and internationally recognized. He said that Pakistan should not wait for Indian attack and a weak economy should not be an argument in Pakistan’s weaker response to Indian warmongering. He said that Pakistan was able to liberate Azad Jammu & Kashmir in 1948 through the 12-bore rifle and there is no reason that Pakistan cannot fight a war with India with nuclear power. He was addressing a conference on “Kashmir Crisis: Challenge for Peace in South Asia”, organized by Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) at a local hotel in Islamabad. Federal Minister for Human Rights Sheri Mazari was the Chief Guest and keynote speaker while former Pakistani High Commissioner to India and President PICSS Ambassador (R) Abdul Basit, Ambassador-designate to Sri Lanka and Chairman PICSS Major General (R) Muhammad Saad Khattak, APHC leader Ghulam Muhammad Safi, Former Justice of Azad Kashmir Azad Kashmir Justice (R) Manzoor Hussain Gilani, Ambassador (R) Ghalib Iqbal, President of World Kashmir Freedom Movement Muzammil Ayyub Thakur, renowned scholar Dr. Salma Malik, Journalist and activist Ahmad Qureshi, Managing Director PICSS Abdullah Khan, Kashmir Human Rights Activist Maria Iqbal Tarana and others addressed the conference. Diplomats, academicians, media persons, students, and civil society members participated in the conference.  Addressing the conference, Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mizaari has said that political governments in Pakistan could never highlight Kashmir issue the way PTI government was able to raise the issue internationally. She said that we have not been able to develop a culture of resistance with regards to Kashmir and hence need to specifically focus on developing music and literature related to the Kashmir freedom movement. She criticized UNICEF for not raising the issue of rights abuses directed against children and women in Kashmir. She reiterated her demand to the UN to establish a humanitarian corridor in Kashmir. She added that the BJP government is involved in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Kashmir as well as mainstream India. She said that despite the fact that the International Court of Justice has become a political organization, Pakistan needs to ask for an advisory opinion with regards to war crimes committed by India and introducing demographic changes. She said that India has been trying to project elections in Occupied Kashmir as a substitute for the plebiscite, UNSC resolutions on Kashmir in 1951 and 1956 clearly stated that such elections could not be a substitute for the plebiscite. She said harassment and rapes of women and children should not be forgotten in this chaos. Women are being abused in Indian occupied Kashmir due to siege.Lt Gen (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi said the statements from Indian top leadership including the prime minister, defence minister and army chief should not be taken merely as rhetoric as they have been following up with their statements. We cannot get Kashmir with just statements and with only diplomatic efforts. He argued that Pakistan should provide weapons and other material support to the Kashmiri people to help them get their right to self-determination. He said that providing weapons and other military support is legal as per international law to the people who are forcefully annexed by India. He said that this notion that we are economically weak therefore we cannot fight is a misplaced notion as Vietnam and Afghanistan fought their wars of independence when they were weak while Libya despite economically strong could not survive. General Lodhi said that when we say that ‘if India attacked us we will fight back’ it means we are not realizing that India has already attacked us, so what are we waiting for. Addressing the conference, President PICSS Amb (R) Abdul Basit said that Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts post 5 August situation were not satisfactory as there is a lot of confusion at the policy as well as at the strategy level. He said that Pakistan seems to have panicked after Indian move of 5 August adding that Pakistan lacks long term policy as currently we are mostly focused on fire fighting. He said that if India continued taking drastic steps, it will fuel instability in the region. He said that South Asia, the least integrated region in the world, has a lot of potentials but due to conflicts between two major South Asian powers India and Pakistan, the region is unable to capitalize on those potentials. He said that India cannot achieve economic progression in isolation and continued hostility with Pakistan will also affect the Indian economy. He suggested putting in place a calibrated strategy that is whole encompassing for achieving Kashmir related objectives.  Dr. Salma Malik said that so-called surgical strikes by India in 2016 were the precursor to see how Pakistani people, government and the international community will react. She said that India was emboldened by lukewarm response of the international community on Indian aggression of carrying out strikes in Balokot in February this year. She said that Pakistan has been seen reacting to the situation instead of following a proactive policy. In his address, Amb (R) Ghalib Iqbal said that Pakistan lacks proactive diplomacy and advised the government to opt for public diplomacy so that the message of Kashmir could reach far and wide. He suggested that RSS, the ideologue of BJP, should be formally declared as a fascist and terrorist organization. He said that Pakistan needs to provide legal cover to AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. Muzammil Ayub Thakur, a Kashmiri youth who was born in exile, said that Indian oppression against innocent Kashmiris is not merely 100 days old. He said that Indian atrocities did not start in 1989 but date back to the partition of India and the so-called accession of Kashmir with India. He said that there have been uncountable incidents of Indian brutalities and torture of young people. He said that the current narrative of Indian HR violations in Kashmir do not represent the true picture of current happenings in Kashmir as Indian security forces are involved in war crimes. He suggested that the option of government in exile should be considered. Ghulam Muhammad Safi, a senior leader of APHC said that there is neither any confusion whatsoever in the minds of Kashmiris regarding accession to Pakistan nor there was any confusion in the mind of the founder Pakistan who termed Kashmir as jugular vein of Pakistan. He said that even the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is quite unambiguous with regard to the future of Kashmir. He said that the possibility of such confusion in the mind of current political leadership in Pakistan must be answered. He said that the Simla Agreement needs to be revisited. Renowned Kashmiri journalist Ahmed Qureshi said that there is a substantial change regarding international reporting on Kashmir post-Burhan Wani martyrdom in 2016. He said that we need to change our mindset and should not belittle the efforts made so far with regards to Kashmir as undermining of such efforts actually leads to demoralization. He said that our future generations need to be updated about narrative on Kashmir.

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