ISLAMABAD: Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir has said that Pakistan and Kashmir are inseparable and enjoy a symbiotic relationship that cannot be severed by any subversion or intimidation by India. We are united in our freedom struggle form the oppressive Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, he said. The President made these remarks while talking to the participants of the National Security Workshop Baluchistan at Quetta on the topic, “Kashmir – its Genesis, Global Perspective and way forward”. The workshop is being jointly organized by the Pakistan Army’s Southern Military Command and National Defense University. President Masood Khan while speaking to his audience said that the people of Kashmir have been striving for their freedom, first, during the Maharaja’s regime and now from India’s illegal occupation. Their struggle, he said, is the tale of sacrifice and suffering spanning almost two centuries. Seventy years ago, in 1947, the Dogra forces, Indian Army and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ruthlessly butchered over 247,000 Kashmiris in the first planned ethnic genocide -post World War II – all the while displacing another 250,000 Kashmiris to Pakistan, he said. The people of Kashmir and Pakistan, he said, share the same aspirations and are united towards the realization of the right to self-determination of Kashmiris in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions. “On 19th July 1947, Kashmiris had made a conscious decision to join Pakistan and till this day they are striving for the same by demanding their right to self-determination”, he said. The President said that India is propagating a false narrative that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral issue. He added that current Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj has even said that the issue has nothing to do with the people of Kashmir as it is a bilateral issue. “Kashmiris cannot be excluded from this conflict and only they can decide their political future and the destiny of their state”, he said. India, he added, has been using bilateral talks to maintain the status quo and has been trying to dilute the political dimensions of the Kashmir issue. The issue is a quadrilateral matter comprising Pakistan, India, Kashmiris and the United Nations, he reiterated. President AJK said that the Indian occupation forces kill and maim innocent Kashmiris; incarcerate them arbitrarily and torture them; they stage encounters to eliminate those who demand freedom; they molest rape and dishonor womenfolk. India claims Kashmir as their integral part, yet despite a passage of 70 years, India after using every means of coercion, economic blandishments and political maneuvering has not been able to able to win the hearts of the people of Kashmir, he said. The President said that senior Indian army officials have claimed that there are no more than 150 ill-armed resistance fighters in Indian Occupied Kashmir. He quizzed his audience as to why over 700,000 Indian army personnel armed – with the latest weapons – have been deployed in IOK. This, he said is the highest concentration of any army in an occupied territory. President Masood Khan categorically denied any terrorism in IOK, saying that there are no supply chains for arms and India boasts that it has erected a 550-kilometre long electrified fence connected to motion sensors, thermal imaging and lighting so claims of cross-border infiltration are not possible. The only terrorism in IOK is the state terrorism under the patronage of the central government. President Masood Khan informed his audience that India has launched a three-pronged war against Pakistan. First, Indian occupation forces have imposed a brutal reign of terror on the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir. Second, India is targeting civilians along the Line of Control. Third, India has started a systematic proxy war in Pakistan to destabilize its cities, regions and institutions by engineering, abetting and sponsoring terrorism inside Pakistan, he said. The President stressed that we need to intensify our outreach to the parliamentary members, civil society and the diaspora community, wherein we must leverage their strengths for the awareness of the human rights violations taking place in Kashmir. He said that Pakistan is Kashmir’s only advocate in the international forum and we should focus on making Pakistan stronger both politically and economically. President Masood Khan proposed that we must take the issue back to the UNSC with renewed vigour as it is still an unresolved agenda item. He urged that, first and foremost, by unifying our ranks and reaching out to the Kashmiris in IOK, we must use modern and traditional mediums of communication in raising our voices for the innocent Kashmiris. He on the occasion thanked the people and Government of Baluchistan for their resolute support to the Kashmir cause. He said that people of Baluchistan and other provinces have displayed their solidarity with the Kashmiris. The President said that economic landscape of Baluchistan and whole of Pakistan is changing as we are passing through a phase of immense development. He said AJK is also on the cusp of an economic revolution and will be an asset to Pakistan. He said that the Government focusing on a three-point agenda which includes; firstly, accelerating the freedom struggle in IOK; secondly, striving for good governance by ensuring accountability, transparency and meritocracy; and thirdly, economic development. He said, Azad Kashmir is on track towards economic prosperity and AJK’s formal inclusion in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has assured 4 major projects for energy production, promotion of industry and road infrastructure. CPEC is an economic corridor connecting Gwadar to Khunjarab and will be instrumental in bringing the people of Pakistan even closer. The President congratulated the organizers for successfully organizing this event. He said this was a landmark step helping create awareness on pertinent issues. The event was attended by Members of the Balochistan Assembly, Brigadier Liaqat Mahmood, Brigadier Muhammad Imran, senior bureaucrats, and academicians from various universities of Baluchistan, researchers and media representatives. Published in Daily Times, April 26th 2018.