Participants of a two-day international conference on Kashmir called for increase in intra-Kashmir trade and education links, free travel within the disputed parts, inclusion of Kashmiris in peace talks and demilitarisation of all parts of the divided Himalayan state. “It is impossible to find a sustainable solution to the dispute without the Kashmiris participation in the dialogue process.”
There is a need for inclusiveness and ‘unity in diversity’, they said at the conclusion of the two-day conference on “Kashmir in emerging global prospective”, organised by Azad Jammu and Kashmir University on Thursday.
AJK President Raja Zulqarnain Khan speaking at the concluding session stressed the need for resolving the Kashmir dispute. He described it a prerequisite for a peaceful South Asia.
The president, who is also the chancellor of the university said, “The peaceful and viable solution of the Kashmir issue, in keeping with the UN resolutions, can guarantee the well-being and economic prosperity [of the people of India and Pakistan], a peaceful coexistence and reduce hostility in the region”.
He urged the international community to resolve the dispute.
The participants acknowledged the Kashmiris as the primary party in the dispute.
The participants called for the intra-Kashmir dialogue encompassing all regions, religions and political orientations. “This is the foremost concrete step towards facilitation of a permanent settlement of the over six-decade old dispute,” they maintained.
For this purpose, they underlined the importance of identifying a common goal by the Kashmiri leadership, social and peace activists, as well as civil society representatives from both sides which will help in creating unity among the Kashmiris and strengthen their struggle.
There was a consensus that the human rights of Kashmiris must be respected and the population centres are demilitarised. They also demanded repeal of all black laws, particularly the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which are being misused by the Indian occupation forces.
They emphasised the need for expansion and implementation of Kashmir-specific CBMs (confidence-building measures), including free travel within the state, intra-Kashmir trade and educational ties. They also recommended introduction of smart card-based or state subject certificate and mobile banking facilities in both parts of the divide, opening of new routes, such as Mirpur-Akhnor and Kargil-Laddakh.
They also acknowledged the sacrifices of the Kashmiris in keeping the freedom movement alive and reiterated full support to their cause.
Ambassador of Malysia Dato Ahmed Adnan, Kashmiri American council Executive Director Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai , Justice Foundation UK Chairman Dr Nazir Shal, Professor Kamal Chinoy, Dr Zaffar Choudhary, Dr Yousaf Bokhari, and a few Indian journalists participated in the conference while AJKU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Habibur Rehman thanked the participants for gracing the conference. Former AJK Varsity Vice Chancellor Prof Dr ZU Khan, Prof Nazir Shaal, and Shujat Bukhari also spoke on the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2011.
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