WASHINGTON - Pakistan, citing the recent United Nations-sponsored independence referendum in Southern Sudan, has said that the oppressed people of Indian occupied Kashmir share the same aspirations for freedom. Today, the United Nations and the international community celebrate and rejoice at the successful manner in which the people of Southern Sudan have chosen a path for their future, Iffat Imran Gardezi, a senior Pakistani diplomat, said at a conference coinciding with the Kashmir Solidarity Day. We see the same dream in the eyes of the Kashmiri people, Mrs. Gardezi, who is deputy chief of mission at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, said, referring to last months referendum in which the people voted overwhelming in favour of secession from Sudan. The conference on India-Pakistan Relations: Resolving the Deadlock Over Kashmir was convened by the Kashmiri American Council. Among those participating were Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the All Parties Hurriyet Conference, and Peter Gitmark, member of the Norwegian Parliament, who especially came from Oslo. Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director of the Kashmiri American Council, welcomed the guests. He spoke about the struggle of Kashmiri people for freedom, and called for the implementation of the United Nations resolutions to resolve the decades-old Kashmir dispute to usher in peace and stability in South Asia. In her speech, Mrs. Gardezi deplored the Indian security forces brutalities in occupied Kashmir, and called for the world community to respond to the Kashmiri peoples aspirations to gain their right of self-determination and to end their prolonged sufferings. It is our hope that the world will finally awaken and hear the long unheard voices of millions of Kashmiri men and women who are fighting to gain their right of self-determination, she told a large number of delegates to the conference. I am here to reiterate Pakistans unconditional moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris for a just and peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute, she told the gathering at George Mason University. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Kashmiri brethren, the Pakistani diplomat declared. Mrs Gardezi also spoke of last summers uprising and said, the youth of Kashmir came out on the roads to register their protest, exchanging stones for bullets from the oppressive Indian forces. There was no justification for India to maintain the presence of 700,000 security forces since the past few decades, she said, noting that their presence has not been able to crush the genuine and indigenous freedom struggle. Expressing grave concern over human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, Mrs. Gardezi said, Indian forces use old tactics ranging from arrests and detention to brutalities, torture and killing of innocent Kashmiris. Efforts by New Delhi to integrate Kashmiris into mainstream politics are merely an illusion for the international community. They lack substance and truth. India can no longer remain oblivious to the cries of the Kashmiris. It must recognize basic human rights of the people of Kashmir, and reduce the presence of its forces in the valley. About the impact of the Kashmir dispute on the lives and future of more than 1.5 billion people of South Asia, she said the region was being denied its share in the world trade and investment and optimal use of While the 21st century is being dubbed as Asias century, the citizens of South Asia risk losing the tremendous opportunities for economic progress if the Kashmir issue remains unresolved. Pakistan, the diplomat said, was of the view that dialogue between the two countries is the only way to resolve deadlock over all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. However, there can be no solution of the Kashmir issue without the involvement and acceptance of the Kashmiri people. She hoped that the forthcoming Foreign Secretary-level talks in Bhutan on February would offer a useful opportunity to pick up the threads for resumption of dialogue. Kashmir has become a neglected chapter of human right; It is a black spot on the conscience of humanity, Mrs Gardezi said.