Webinar Organized by IPS and Pakistan High Commission UK

By: Atiq-ur-Rehman

Two webinars were organized by Institute of Policy Studies Islamabad (IPS) and Pakistan High Commission London, UK. The topic of IPS webinar was “India: Past, Present and Future: Perception of the Muslim World”. The President of Azad Jammu & Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan was the Chief Guest in this webinar. Whereas, Pakistan High Commission UK’s webinar was titled as “Seeking Justice for Kashmiri Victims of Sexual Violence and Physical Torture and Widows”. Before I pen down the details of these two seminal webinars, let me cast a light on IPS and Pakistan High Commission UK’s incredible efforts for promoting Kashmir cause. IPS is a Pakistani think tank which was established by renowned economist and political thinker former Senator Prof. Khursheed Ahmed in 1979. It is a non-profit, Civil Society organization dedicated to promoting policy oriented research. Research matters are over seen by the IPS National Academic Council composed of diplomats, academics, educationist, military and industry experts. Presently, IPS is led by its dynamic Director General Khalid Rehman, who is one of the pioneers of the Institute having a vast experience in research, training and management. This webinar was moderated by Syed Muhammad Ali, Senior Research Fellow IPS, a man equipped with rich and diverse experience of multilateral negotiations and dialogues at the world’s leading policy forums, strategic affairs and managing International Media. This webinar was also attended by renowned intellectuals, leading International experts from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nigeria. The President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan while addressing the webinar as Chief Guest said that after grudgingly accepting the independence of Pakistan, India adopted a secular doctrine. This concept, he said, was an insincere attempt as this was nothing but Hinduism masqueraded as secularism. Speaking at the IPS Session, the President said Hindu fascists romanticize an imaginary state of Akhand Baharat that they claim to have existed before the arrival of Muslim rulers in the Sub-continent. This notion, he said, is not only unsubstantiated by history, it is also counterintuitive. Referring to the faux secularism adopted by India, the AJK President said that over the decades, this glue of secularism has come off and the real face of India’s political masters has been exposed. Not long after Independence, on 27 October 1947, India began working on its imperialistic agenda and invaded the Jammu and Kashmir State. Driven by its Hindu-extremist policy, India has carried on with this agenda over the years, he said. Masood Khan said that lawmakers and the leadership of BJP, the RSS and their affiliates have publically declared that they would do away with Muslims from within India. This, he said, has caught the attention of Hindu zealots from across India which has consequently impacted the larger political landscape of India. This BJP-RSS nexus has waged three wars in the region; one against its minorities inside its own borders, the second one against Kashmiris in the occupied territory of Kashmir and the third against all its neighbouring countries. Considering Pakistan as enemy number one, they have threatened to wipe off Pakistan from the face of the earth by the use of nuclear weapons, he informed. President Masood Khan said that India’s ambition of becoming a colonial and imperial power in the region has led it to using the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh for sabotaging the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It has also formed a four member alliance QUAD – comprising of India, USA, Japan and Australia – to oppose the BRI and, especially, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. “India is the biggest barrier for progress in the region. SAARC has been struggling for decades and that too because India has been standing in the way of economic integration as it wants to establish its hegemony in South Asia”, said the President. Speaking about the situation in IOJK, he said that India is practising the policy of lebensraum by reoccupying the State of Jammu and Kashmir, bifurcating it and now bringing it under the direct rule of Delhi. He compared the New Domicile Rules introduced in IOJK, to the policy followed by Nazi Germany against the Jews; based initially on economic strangulation, followed by demonization and marginalization and finally physical extermination. The President apprised that in IOJK political leaders have been incarcerated, the youth are being killed and tortured in jails all over IOJK and northern India. He added that 13,000 Kashmiri boys have been abducted and kept in prison houses where they are being subjected to torture and brainwashing. Bipin Rawat, India’s Chief of Defence Staff has said that these boys (some as young as 10 years old) are more dangerous than a pellet-firing shotgun because they raise the slogan of Azadi (freedom) and self-determination, he said. The AJK President said that members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should start a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against India, while the corporate sector of these countries should be discouraged to invest in India as they are committing human rights violations against Kashmiris and Muslims of India. He proposed banning the import of non-halal meat and non-halal products of India into OIC countries and the formation of a Kashmir Humanitarian Fund with the help of the Islamic Development Bank and Islamic Solidarity Fund. The President Azad Jammu and Kashmir suggested an international civil society movement be mobilized to delegitimize Hindutva and campaign to declare RSS a terrorist organization. “The biggest and the most trained terrorist organization in the world is the RSS. They have openly declared to target Muslims not only in South Asia but all over the world”, he said. Appreciating the supportive role of the OIC, President Masood Khan appealed to the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council to raise their voice against Kashmir and call out the egregious human rights violations taking place in IOJK. President Azad Jammu and Kashmir also spoke to another web-conference hosted by Pakistan High Commission UK. It is worth mentioning that Pakistan High Commission UK is doing a commendable job for sensitising and mobilizing Pakistani/Kashmiri diaspora in UK to actively highlight Kashmir issue in England. This webinar was also attended by Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK H.E. Nafees Zakaria, MP Afzazl Khan, MP Naz Shah, MP Steve Baker, MP Tony Lloyd, MP Imran Hussain, MP Khalid Mahmood, Lord Qurban Hussain, Councillor Aasim Rashid, Mr. Muzammil Ayub Thakur, Chairman JKSDMI Raja Najabat Hussain, President Tahreek-e-Kashmir UK Mr Fahim Kiyani, Dr. Nazir GIllani, Syed Ali Raza, Ms. Shaista Safi and other leading members of the civil society. While speaking to this webinar, the President appealed to powerful nations to make moral and legal choices for bringing India to justice and helping dismantle this machine of torture in IOJK. “Silence is a crime when such torture is openly taking place in any part of the world”, he said. He added that 25,000 Hindus from all over India have been given domiciles of IOJK; and in the same manner, in which Muslim Indians have become second class citizens, Kashmiris have to run from pillar to post just to prove that they are State subjects. “If we don’t stop this now, IOJK won’t be a recognisable entity like it is today. 2 million Hindus will be brought in over the coming years” he said. The AJK President said that India’s non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council will lead to three setbacks in the Council. Firstly, it will try to delete the agenda from the UN SC calendar; secondly, they would make efforts to stop us from holding informal meetings on Kashmir; and thirdly, they will imperil funding the mandate of the UNMOGIP. “As a permanent member of the UN SC, UK can stop this and create a balance in the UNSC”, said the President while speaking to his audience. He urged the British citizenry and its civil society to lead the campaign of letter writing and awareness-raising on Kashmir in the international realm. He also thanked MP Steve Baker for his active and vocal role in raising his voice for the Kashmir people by authoring a letter. He urged him to use his clout with 10 Downing Street and the FCO to mobilise the UK towards Kashmir advocacy in both the British Parliament and the UN Security Council. In his closing remarks at the both the e-conferences, the President Masood Khan applauded the efforts of IPS and Pakistani High Commission UK for organizing wonderful and successful webinars for highlighting the noble Kashmir Cause.