Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan arrived in New York on Saturday and received a warm welcome from Kashmiri people as well as Pakistanis at the airport. He had served in New York as Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations until February 2015 and returned this time as President of the region he has worked ardently for, a post he well-deserves. On his arrival, he reiterated his intention of highlighting Kashmir as the most pressing outstanding issue for the international community to resolve in South Asia.

Many have pinned their hopes on the newly elected President, implying that the Kashmir movement could gather momentum due to his arrival considering that he has a proven record as a devoted campaigner for the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

Over the years as a permanent representative to the UN, Masood Khan worked hard to build international support for the realisation of the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Having him represent the Kashmiri people as President of AJK is definitely a considerable advantage.

During his tenure, he reached out to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council to persuade them to fulfil the UN’s promise to help decide Kashmir’s political future through a democratic plebiscite. He retired as a career diplomat in 2005 and has also served on key positions as Foreign Office’s spokesperson, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, DG UN desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DG Disarmament desk at MOFA and several other positions.

Mr Masood is more than qualified for the job and has the tenacity required seeing this issue through in the long term. Him along with Dr Maleeha Lodhi will make a formidable team to raise the issue at the international forum and one can only hope that they will be heard and action will be taken as soon as possible.