November 8, 2023

The Kashmir Conflict Ripple Effect: Regional Implications and Consequences

PICSS hosted a Roundtable Conference on
“The Kashmir Conflict Ripple Effect: Regional Implications and Consequences”

Islamabad, October 26, 2023: A Roundtable Conference held in Islamabad emphasized China’s involvement in the Kashmir Conflict and urged Pakistan to recognize it as a key stakeholder in the issue. Organized by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), the event featured prominent speakers and participants from various backgrounds.

Former Defence Minister Lt. General Naeem Khalid Lodhi (Retired), former Pakistani High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and PICSS Chairman Major General Saad Khattak (Retired), Chairman of the Kashmir Institute of International Relations Mr. Altaf Hasan Wani, and President of the Kashmir Youth Alliance Dr. Mujahid Gilani were among the key speakers at the roundtable.

General Lodhi asserted that China should be considered the fourth party to the Kashmir conflict, in addition to Pakistan, India, and the Kashmiri people. He suggested that Pakistan should engage China as a stakeholder and noted that the escalating rivalry between China and the United States might present opportunities for the Kashmiri people. General Lodhi distanced himself from the viewpoint of former Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, emphasizing that such perspectives were individual and not reflective of institutional approaches. He stressed the need for Pakistan to negotiate with India from a position of strength.

Major General Saad Khattak (Retired) criticized the political leadership of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, holding them accountable for the Kashmir debacle. He highlighted issues such as Kashmiri leadership acquiring properties in Pakistan and Pakistani leadership owning properties abroad, alleging insincerity toward the Kashmir Cause and the people of Kashmir. He also pointed out the presence of 30 ministers without portfolios in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, considering it a matter of shame.

Mr. Altaf Wani, Chairman of the Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR), expressed concerns about India’s actions since August 5, 2019, aimed at altering the demographic composition of Kashmir. He argued that Pakistan had taken insufficient action in response, with only a speech at the United Nations General Assembly to its credit. Mr. Wani critiqued the ceasefire agreement reached with India in February 2021 and criticized both Indian and Pakistani media for their handling of the Kashmir issue. He emphasized the need for Pakistan to send strong signals and not relegate the Kashmir issue to the background.

Dr. Mujahid Gilani, President of the Kashmir Youth Alliance, drew parallels between the situation in Kashmir and Gaza. He presented documented evidence of Indian atrocities against Kashmiris, stating that these atrocities had been ongoing since the Indian occupation in 1947 but had intensified since 2019. Dr. Gilani called for a consolidated and consistent Kashmir policy in Pakistan, one that would remain unaffected by changes in government or key positions.

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