Strategic space available for promoting Kashmir cause: Mushahid

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said on Thursday that Pakistan has got a ‘strategic space’ which it should use for the benefit of the Kashmiri freedom movement.

Speaking at a webinar hosted by Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) on ‘Pakistan’s Kashmir Strategy: An Assessment and Future Outlook’, the Senate committee’s chief said that Pakistan has got a ‘geo-political breather’ because Modi has been put on a defensive by India’s aggravating internal situation.

“US also needs Pakistan’s help for getting itself out of the conflict in Afghanistan; the American foreign policy would be less interventionist after the latest developments within US; and the progress that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is making, ” he explained.

He said it is now up to Pakistan to use this opportunity for alleviating the sufferings of the Kashmiris and reiterating in an emphatic manner that it is standing solidly behind the Kashmiris’ struggle for the right of self-determination.

Senator Mushahid also called for strengthening the national consensus on Kashmir, by keeping it above party politics in the domestic context.

One of the key recommendations of the webinar for Pakistani political parties was that they should in the upcoming elections for Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s Legislative Elections focus exclusively on issues related to Kashmir itself instead of campaigning on divisive political controversies.

Former Defense Secretary Lt Gen (R) Asif Yasin Malik called for more efforts to create awareness among the people in other countries. His view was that once people are better informed about the issue, they would then pressure their respective governments to revisit their policies on Kashmir and act for addressing the situation.

In this regard, he said that parliamentary diplomacy has an important role to play. He suggested that the Kashmir Committee of the parliament should be a politically neutral forum.

Former Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad Khan, in his remarks, said that maintaining the ‘status quo’ is not a solution of the dispute. He emphasized that there would have to be a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir conflict involving all three parties to the dispute.

He said that the current government has through some aggressive diplomatic efforts placed Kashmir high on the global agenda.

Executive Director IPI Prof Sajjad Bokhari, while underscoring the challenge posed by the attempts to change Kashmir’s demography, noted that Muslims were earlier converted into a minority in Jammu and Modi government’s steps since Aug 5, 2019 are part of the ‘final push’ for wiping away the Kashmir dispute and erasing the political identity of Kashmiris.

“In essence, what began in Jammu is now being completed in the Valley, ” he maintained.