London - Global powers need to realize the sensitivities of the emerging scenario in South Asia and the centrality of Kashmir dispute to it and work for its resolution.This was the main theme at a conference organized by the Royal United Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies in White Hall here on Wednesday evening.
The conference, titled ‘Asian Powers in Kashmir’, covered four major subjects : violence in Kashmir - the global context, the Kashmir dispute and South Asian regional Security, the role of China and Sino-Indian rivalry in the Kashmir dispute and the post-Simla agreement environment and Indo-Pakistani dialogue.
Speaking in the first session, Chairman OF All Parties Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq gave an overview of the existing situation in the Jammu and Kashmir State.
He referred to the transitional change from armed resistance to peaceful movement and said that the people of Kashmir have chosen non-violent expression of their dissent by peaceful demonstrations but unfortunately India has chosen the path of violence to silence aspirations and over 120 people were killed in cold blood.
“Disproportionate use of force by India has made the Kashmiris to lose faith in any of their initiatives. The movement is in the hands of young men and they believe in peace and are peaceful,” he pointed out.
India, he said, is denying political space as a consequence Kashmiris do not find any role for the interlocutors who have not spelt any specific agenda which can be considered by the political leadership. “Kashmir needs to be seen through the prism of Kashmiri aspirations and the current movement in Kashmir is simply its reassertion,” he asserted.
Mirwaiz asked India to create a conducive atmosphere for tripartite or triangular dialogue and he spelt out four-point agenda for constructive engagement with New Delhi.
Dr. Robert Bradnock, Professor at Kings College, London and a fellow at Chatham House, asked for a realistic approach to resolve Kashmir dispute. He referred to his study and said that hundred percent of the population do not want status quo and predominant population wants an assertion of their identity.
Prof. Richard Bonney chaired the session and gave a genesis about the international response to Kashmir Situation.
Intervening in the debate, Prof. Nazir Ahmed Shawl of Kashmir Centre, said that Prof Bradnock’s assertion that status quo was not acceptable to Kashmiris is well founded and efforts for constructive result and ice-breaking dialogue necessary.
The second session titled Kashmir Dispute- And South Asian Regional Security was presided over by author and political analyst Victoria Schofield who pleaded for renewed efforts to fulfil the aspirations of people of Kashmir and address the problem to stabilize the region for regional and global peace.
Author and columnist Zahid G Muhammad in his presentation stated that the South Asian region was on a precipice and the powerful nations and not that powerful nations have no sympathies for 16 million people of the State but they need to realize with all seriousness that the security of whole of the South Asia now hinges on the resolution of Kashmir problem.
Dwelling in detail on the threats posed to the South Asian security, Barrister Abdul Majid Tramboo, Director, Kashmir Centre, Brussels, in his presentation stated that the utmost pillar of South Asia Security architecture is the peaceful resolution of Jammu and Kashmir and in this regard three factors are crucial : nuclear capability of the two countries, understanding links between Afghanistan and Kashmir and role of SARRAC. The achievement of peace in South Asia, he said, should be a policy for all major international players and much more significant efforts should be made in this regard.
Kashmiri journalist Zafar Chowdhury stressed on strengthening peace building mechanism and confidence measures like travelling to both sides across the Line of Control and trade, which he added, needs to be strengthened and made more flexible to create ownership within the masses.
The third session titled Role of China and Sino-Indian rivalry in the Kashmir Dispute was chaired by Alexander Neil, head of the South Asian Security at RUSI. In his presentation Lt. General (Retd) A.K. Mehta urged India and Pakistan to work together for resolving the Kashmir problem.
Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad, Oxford University Fellow and commentator, said Pakistan and China have a bitter experience of India. It has a history of not living up to its commitment, it has repeatedly reneged its commitments of resolving the Kashmir dispute. He said that there is no moral ground to question China’s involvement and that India cannot tell China to stay out because India “never budges” on the issue.
Dr Ahmad believes the move by China is the result of inaction and unwillingness on the part of the Indian government to regard J&K as a serious issue.
“China shares a common frustration with Pakistan—India not moving an inch,” he said.
Dr Ahmed added that China deserves recognition for taking an interest in the region, adding that up to now the international communities have paid little more than ‘lip service” to Kashmir.
Councillor Dr. Zulfikar Ali appreciated the role of China vis-à-vis the Kashmir dispute. He termed the recent Chinese policy in the issuance of visa as a positive endorsement of Kashmir being a disputed state which required international facilitation for its resolution.
The last session titled the “Post-Simla Agreement environment and Indo-Pakistan dialogue” was chaired by Jonathan Paris, Associate Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) Kings College. He remarked that the resolution of Kashmir is at the heart of stability and peace in South Asia.
Speaking in this session, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director of the Kashmiri American Council, advocated the inclusion of Kashmiri leadership in the dialogue process in any future talks. He said that if India and Pakistan attempt to negotiate without the people of Kashmir “they will be performing Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.”
He emphasised the fact that international agreements inked by the global powers need to be honoured. He said the Kashmiris must be allowed to redeem their inalienable right of self-determination and that was the only way of respecting Kashmiri aspirations.
Ahmer Bilal Soofi, President, International Society of Law, Pakistan, dwelt upon the legal dimensions of the dispute in the context and execution of any agreement between India Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. He in fact identified the impediment in the process of a conclusive dialogue on Kashmir. He also stressed for a consensus to resolve the impediments in the dialogue process.
Dr. Angana Chatterji of California Institute of Integral Studies, spoke about the humanitarian dimension of the dispute and recounted the hardship and the miseries through which the people of Jammu and Kashmir are passing. She referred to her painstaking work on mass graves and also recounted the details of disinformation circulated by the governmental agencies to defame the struggle of the people of Jammu.
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