MIRPUR (AJK)-The National Lawyers Conference demanded early settlement of the much-delayed Kashmir issue in line with the aspirations of the people of the State, and unanimously passed a resolution in favour of the demand.

The participants sought reunification of all parts of the divided state as it existed on August 15, 1947. The conference was hosted by Mirpur Bar Association to emphasise upon both India and Pakistan to move for a meaningful process for the settlement of the lingering Kashmir issue without further loss of time. They said that it is not a territorial dispute rather an issue which involved the fate of about 20 million people of internationally-acknowledged disputed Himalayan State.

Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association President Rasheed A Rizvi and former chief justice of AJK High Court Justice (r) Abdul Majeed Mallick were the chief guests at two sessions of the conference. Mirpur Bar Association President Zulfiqar Ahmed Raja Advocate presided over the moot attended by the lawyers including office-bearers of various bar associations from different parts of Pakistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir.

However, despite the invitation to the lawyers from Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir by the host, non of the guests from IOK could attend the conference for the reasons best known to them.

In his brief and comprehensive address, Rasheed A Rizvi emphasised for early grant of the much-awaited birth right to self-determination to the people of Jammu & Kashmir to decide about their destiny under the spirit of the internal norms and commitments. He said that the legal fraternity from across Pakistan fully supports Kashmiris' struggle for the achievement of their right.

Reminding United Nations to fulfil its due responsibilities to get the Kashmir issue settled without further delay, Rizvi recalled that the UN was comprised of 49 member countries in 1947. "But today, it has enlarged to the membership of over 140 countries - following the freedom of various nations the world over during last 70 years," he added. He referred to emerging of about 50 countries in Europe by now which was earlier comprised of only 16 countries.

Abdul Majeed Mallick called for empowering the people of Jammu & Kashmir to raise their case of freedom in the United Nations and the world over. "By now, our Kashmir case was facing with the ex-party decisions or decisions in absentia - due to their (Kashmiris) absence at various relevant world forums following denial to plead their case independently," he observed.

Mallick, who is also president of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation League, said that the concept of bilateralism between Pakistan and India in resolving Kashmir issue had flopped following the continued escape by India to settle the lingering issue.

He said that the long standing Kashmir issue could muster maximum sympathy of the international community provided it was presented as the issue of the human rights and not as a territorial dispute. It involves the future of the population of the state and relationship between the two nuclear arch rival countries, he added.

He strongly condemned India's ongoing nefarious move of changing the demography of the Muslim-majority Jammu & Kashmir state. He said that it was granting the state-subject rights issuing the domiciles to its citizens with ulterior motives to legitimize their status as permanent settler in the occupied Jammu & Kashmir territory. Justice (r) Shareef Hussain Bukhari, former Judge of Lahore High Court, said that early peaceful settlement of Kashmir issue was the key to durable and everlasting peace in South Asia particularly in both Pakistan and India.

"India and Pakistan have the legal and moral duty to provide to the people of Jammu & Kashmir state a proper opportunity to freely and fairly exercise the right to self-determination," he said.

Earlier in his address of welcome, Mirpur Bar Association President Zulfiqar Ahmed Raja said that the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state is the inalienable and indivisible historic entity, no power on earth including any super power could divide it on permanent ground. He called for early result oriented step by both India and Pakistan to reach to the settlement of Kashmir issue primarily according to the wishes of its basic stakeholders - the people of the J & K State.

Welcoming China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Raja said, "Since the gigantic CPEC project is mainly based in the territory which is integral part of Jammu & Kashmir, the project should be routed through in such a way as to be useful to all parts of Jammu & Kashmir State."

The conference unanimously passed a resolution which says the issue of Jammu & Kashmir is not a territorial dispute. Rather it involves the fate of 20 million people of the state through a free and fair mechanism of self determination of the future status of the State.

It says the State of Jammu & Kashmir is an indivisible political entity - hence should be reunited as it existing on August 15, 1947. Pakistan and India should facilitate Intra-Jammu & Kashmir dialogue to enable the people to evolve a consensus on solution of the much-delayed issue to the satisfaction of the people of the State. To materialize the pending reunification of the State in to reality, a conducive climate should be conceived for the result-oriented dialogue by initiating the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).

The participants demanded free movement of the people of Jammu & Kashmir and trade from either side of the Ceasefire line through opening all rest of the Intra Jammu & Kashmir natural routes without any restriction; all Indian troops should be withdrawn from the civil populous areas at other side of the ceasefire line in Jammu & Kashmir as the initial / first step towards total demilitarization; all draconian and black laws and coercive / undemocratic measures at other side of the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir should be repealed; violations and abuse of human rights be stopped.

They also demanded an independent institution or tribunal be constituted to probe in to all cases of human rights besides bringing the guilty to justice; all missing persons be recovered and the cases against those booked for taking part in the ongoing struggle for right to self determination be withdrawn unconditionally; to demine and remove fencing at the Ceasefire Line at either side; and to encourage across Cease fire line activities.

They further demanded empowerment of the Jammu & Kashmir, Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit/Baltistan governments by a constitutional linkage among all the three units of the erstwhile State; due attention be paid towards the prevailing situation in Gilgit/Baltistan. The GB population is facing with the deprivation of the state subject rights and are also more vulnerable to the state-induced alteration in their demographic make-up; and solution to the Kashmir issue sans unfettered and free will/aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the unity, integrity and composite character and democratic federal statecraft will be acceptable at any cost", it concluded.