ISLAMABAD: President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan on Tuesday warned of growing threat of aggression by India to Pakistan and cautioned against being complacent.
He was speaking at a seminar on “The Kashmir Conflict & South Asian Security” that had been jointly organized by Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI), a local think tank, and Quaid-e-Azam University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies (DSS).
The event had been organized to bring together leading academicians, policy makers, military officials, young scholars and students so that they could exchange views and enhance their understanding of emerging security and threat matrix of the region.
“Operations in Kashmir is just beginning of the series of steps that India plans to take against Pakistan,” the AJK president said.
In his keynote, Khan categorically said Indian threat to Kashmir was in reality an existential threat to Pakistan. Referring to India’s aggressive designs and particularly BJP’s ideological fountainhead RSS’ war frenzy, he said, the nation must remain prepared for war.
Emphasizing the RSS’s influence on BJP government, he said, the war hysteria and rise of extremism in India was being “driven by the fascist agenda of violent groups” linked to ruling BJP.
He feared that a nuclear conflict was very much possible because once the conflict moves from conventional to strategic level, then it would difficult to control the events.
Khan, who has formerly been Pakistan’s one of the most accomplished diplomats, rejected the idea of pursuing a bilateral dialogue with India.
His contention was that such an approach was counter-productive because it enables India to project the dispute as a bilateral matter and exclude people of Kashmir and the United Nations from the process.
In his opinion, the world’s reaction to India’s illegal annexation of Kashmir and brutal repression of the uprising in Kashmir was mixed.
He was appreciative of the coverage of the crisis in Western media and the number of people, who spoke up in favour of Kashmir.
However, he said, it was now time to move beyond expression of solidarity to seeking solutions. About the agitation in support of Kashmir, the AJK president, said, “we should now move forward from protest demonstrations to seeking ways for influencing decision making with a view to getting solutions.”
Vice Chancellor Quaid-e-Azam University Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali condemned the atrocities being committed by the Indian forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir and reaffirmed support for the suffering Kashmiris.
Executive Director IPI Prof. Sajjad Bokhari said denial of self-determination for Kashmir in 1947 continues to have consequences until today.
Speaking about the tensions between Pakistan and India and the threats to peace and stability in the neighbourhood, he said, “The situation is not just problematic because two nuclear states are toe to toe, but it is particularly worrisome because of India’s hegemonic designs, its pursuance of offensive military doctrines, nuclear blackmail, rejection of proposals for strategic restraint, and refusal to follow the path of dialogue for resolving outstanding issues.”
Prof. Bokhari said the situation could drift towards a major escalation, if steps were not immediately taken to manage the conflict.
Dr. Salma Malik, Assistant Professor, DSS, QAU delivered a talk on “Exploiting the strategic fault lines”. She contended that although annulment of Article 370 on August 5 may not have changed the status of Kashmir conflict, but it was a worrisome development because it has aggravated the plight of the Kashmiris and Modi’s antics were threatening peace in the region.
DSS Head of Department Dr Shabana Fayyaz called for pursuing a multi-pronged strategy on Kashmir in which international community should be engaged more effectively, peace lobbies within India should be contacted, Pakistan be made stronger through better governance and improved economy, and national consensus and unity be strengthened.
Dr. Nasrullah Mirza, on this occasion, gave a presentation on water dispute. In his view, Kashmir and Indus disputes were intertwined in nature and have strong linkages with war and peace in the region.