MIRPUR (AJK)   -  Azad Jammu & Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan Saturday reiterated the reality that Kashmir is not a bilateral dispute - rather it is an international issue, which can only be resolved through peaceful and diplomatic means.

“People Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan believe the Kashmir dispute can only be settled  through peaceful and diplomatic means”, the AJK president remarked while addressing joint news conference at Jammu & Kashmir House along with a visiting  delegation of British Members of European Parliament (MEP) led by MEP Richard Corbett, Leader of the Labour Party in the European Parliament and the Co-Chairperson of the Friends of Kashmir Group in the European Parliament, according to AJK Presidential Secretariat.

Sardar Masood continued that people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan have openly welcomed President Trump’s offer for third-party mediation on Kashmir, and would extend their wholehearted support to this momentous initiative.

“This is the first time that a sitting American President has made mediation offer on Kashmir. We must use this new diplomatic space for a just and lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with international law and aspirations of the Kashmiri people”, he said.

Other members of the delegation who spoke on the occasion included MEP Irina Von Weise, Vice-Chair Subcommittee on Human Rights and member Committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament, MEP Shaffaq Mohammed, substitute member Subcommittee on Human Rights in the European Parliament, Councillor Nazia Rehman, Raja Najabat Hussain, Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Self-Determination Movement International, and Brussels-based Kashmiri activist Sardar Sadique.

The AJK president said that President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate on Kashmir is a very positive development. He said that Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir have warmly welcomed the offer and would support the diplomatic overture made by President Trump.

He said that it would be prudent for India to take the same constructive path and cooperate with the USA and Pakistan for exploring a solution through diplomatic means that could offer a win-win situation for India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir.

President Khan said that the Chinese government has also supported President Trump’s offer.

A Chinese Foreign Office Spokesperson said: “We support the international community, the US included, in playing a constructive role in improving Pakistan-India relations through dialogue”

The AJK president said that India continues to use the guise of bilateral dialogue to maintain the status quo, exclude people of Kashmir and the UN from diplomatic processes, sabotage holding of bilateral talks even after grudgingly accepting them, perpetuate its occupation of the territory and keep the international community at a distance from IOK in order to hide its crimes against humanity in IOK.

Masood Khan thanked the European Parliament for holding a very important hearing on 19th February 2019, in its Subcommittee on Human Rights, on the report on human rights situation in Kashmir released by the High Commissioner for Human Rights last year. He said that members of the European Parliament during the hearing strongly endorsed the recommendations of the High Commissioner’s report and called for their faithful implementation.

The president said that the High Commissioner’s Office this year on 8 July, also released a follow-up report in which they have listed continued a) killing of unarmed people, b) excessive use of force, c) use of pellet guns blinding people, d) draconian cordon and search operations e) arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances f) curbs on freedom of expression and g) a culture of impunity for killings by the occupation forces.

The president said, “India has not and will never be able to win the hearts and minds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir through the use of force and their brutalization. Only diplomacy will resolve this problem and guarantee the fundamental right of the Kashmiri people”.

Responding to a question whether President Trump would incorporate UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir in his mediatory effort or come up with a brand new ‘out of the box’ solution, President Masood Khan said that UN Security resolutions on Kashmir are keystone documents which cannot be ignored or set aside. They are a fundamental reference point especially in ascertaining the rights of the Kashmiris people, a principle that is embedded in the UNSC resolutions. “The cardinal principle for any out of the box solution should be a democratic reference to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine their will and political destiny”, he said.

European Parliamentarians, while addressing the press conference, expressed their resolve that the European Parliament itself will play an active role for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

MEP Richard Corbett said that Jammu and Kashmir should not be treated as a forgotten conflict. He added that this is a crisis which the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the international community have faced for the past seven decades. He said the European Union and the European Parliament will continue to use their potential leverage to bring a peaceful resolution to the dispute. He said that the MEPs will raise awareness on Kashmir especially at the European Parliament and will raise the issue with the member European nations.

Responding to another question, MEP Richard Corbett said that UK has a historical role in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. He said that the Labour Party recognises this responsibility and will make every effort for a peaceful settlement of this dispute. He added that this issue is not one country’s responsibility but a responsibility of the whole global community.

MEP Irina Von Weise said that this visit will help create critical awareness on the situation by providing them first-hand observations and understanding of the plight of displaced people. She said that as Vice-Chair of Human Rights Committee, she will continue raising the issue of Kashmir in the European Parliament.

MEP Shaffaq Mohammed said that we feel the pain of the Kashmiri people and hope that this dispute is resolved amicably. He said that we have no enmity with the Indian people and our only concern is the grave human rights situation in IOK.

He added that Europe suffered heavily last century due to the two World Wars and we hope the world never sees the same kind of turmoil elsewhere. Human rights should be put at the centre of developing trade and economic relations with India by EU members, he said.

 

MEP Shaffaq said that the UK and Ireland had successfully resolved their differences over Northern Ireland through dialogue. That model could also be used as a blueprint in South Asia to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

 

Councillor Nazia Rehman urged that the people of Kashmir must be given their inalienable and fundamental right to self-determination. She said that human rights violations in IOK must be immediately stopped.