Islamabad,: Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has said that historically the people of Jammu and Kashmir had decided to join Pakistan well before the Independence of Pakistan. This decision, he said was unanimously made during the meeting of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference held on 19 July 1947. The President shared these remarks while speaking to the concluding session of the Summer School 2020 Kashmir Boot Camp organised by the Centre for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR) on the topic “Kashmir: Conflict, Crisis and Dialogue”. The web-conference was moderated by Dr Rabia Akhtar, Director CSSPR, and was attended by over 40 students. “It was the collective aspiration of the Kashmiris to accede to Pakistan. This will of the Kashmiris was trampled because of the connivance of the Maharaja, the Indian government and the British colonisers who forcefully tried to annex Kashmir to India”, he said The President said that after the independence of India and Pakistan, the people of AJK and Gilgit- Baltistan fought a war against the Maharaja and liberated these areas. He added that had the Indian government not deployed their forces at Srinagar the whole State of Jammu and Kashmir would have been liberated. “The area we know as AJK and GB have now become a defensive rampart for Pakistan”, he said. President Masood Khan said that the people of Kashmir had suffered tremendously over the past 73 years. He added that in the month of November 1947, the Muslims of Jammu were forced to leave the area and were pushed towards Sialkot. This exodus resulted in the martyrdom of 237,000 unarmed Muslim Kashmiris at the hands of the Maharaja’s forces, Indian army and RSS goons, while another 300,000 were permanently displaced. Till this day, he said, 500,000 Kashmiris have sacrificed their lives in pursuit for freedom, liberty and self-determination. The AJK President said that this past year has been the darkest period in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. On August 5 last year, the Indian forces imposed a military siege in IOJK which had led to the intensification of killings, maiming, blinding and enforced disappearances within the occupied territory.