islamabad - Speakers at a conference on regional security warned that peace with India cannot be achieved by compromising on principled position on Kashmir and other contentious issues.

The speakers on the first day of the ‘Two-Day National Conference on South Asian Security’ organised by Islamabad-based independent think tank Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) accused New Delhi of being insincere about peace. The conference was organised to discuss South Asia’s unstable political dispensation and fragile security architecture that gave rise to worries of violent escalation in the region. The intensification of hostilities along the Line of Control and Working Boundary during the past few months and cancellation of bilateral foreign secretaries talks by India are symptoms of the enduring complexity of the Pak-India hostile labyrinth.

Former Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad, in his key note speech, said peace in South Asia would remain elusive as long as Kashmir remained under Indian occupation. He said that India wanted to keep Pakistan under relentless pressure to force a settlement of Kashmir issue on its own (Indian) terms. “As it gets a sympathetic ear in the US and elsewhere in the world on the issue of what it alleges Pakistan sponsored terrorism, India smells blood thinking that now is the time for a kill. In its calculation, the time is ripe for it to pressure Pakistan to an extent where it can surrender on Kashmir cause,” Shamshad said.

He feared that the government was in a hurry to make peace with India. “Peace that they want will not come by compromising on our principled positions,” he underscored.

The former foreign secretary said that India, moreover, cannot be allowed to jeopardize Pakistan’s vital interests in Afghanistan. He feared an India-Pakistan proxy war in post-2014 Afghanistan could have perilous security implications for the region and the rest of the world.  “Our friends and allies must recognise that Afghanistan is an area of fundamental strategic importance to Pakistan,” he added.

Former Defence Secretary Lt Gen (Retd) Asif Yasin Malik said India was using newer tactics to gain absolute control over occupied Jammu and Kashmir including planned repatriation of Hindu pundits, abrogation of article 370 that gave special status to occupied valley and possible trifurcation of the disputed region. Gen Malik said Pakistan had in the past showed a lot of flexibility for the sake of resolving the dispute but India because of its insincerity rejected every offer and opportunity. He said India even rejected former President Gen Pervez Musharraf’s four-point formula that significantly deviated from the country’s position.

Academician Dr Mujeeb Afzal said India was not interested in any tangible relationship with Pakistan and was eyeing integration of the region without including it (Pakistan).

Defence Analyst Brigadier (Retd) Samson Simon Sharaf called for restructuring talks with India, whenever the parleys resume, to make Kashmir first on the list of issues of concern. He said, “Kashmir is a social and societal issue but we have been trying to resolve it militarily.”

Dr Rizwana Abbasi of National Defence University contended that India was trying to sidestep the Kashmir issue by keeping Pakistan engaged with allegations of terrorism.