MIRPUR - Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan, citing the re-occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by India on August 5, had said that a war had been imposed on Kashmiries and we would have to fight this war for our existence.

“This is a war for our sovereignty; for protecting our cultural and religious identity, and the rights of our Kashmir brothers and sister”, he said.

The president made these remarks while addressing a web-conference on “Solidarity with Kashmir during COVID-19 and lockdown effects on Kashmir and Pakistan” organized by the National Youth Empowerment (NYE).

Students from Lahore and Sahiwal were present at the conference. Abdullah Hamid Gul, Chief Patron NYE also addressed the conference.

The AJK president in his remarks said that many still were not aware of the gravity of the situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K), especially post-August 5, when India re-occupied the disputed territory. India, he said, had even issued fake maps showing AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan as part of India.

PLA is a far more professional, committed and resolute as compared to the Indian army

“These fake maps are now available all over the internet”, he said while condemning these actions as a grave violation of international law and UNSC resolutions.

Masood Khan said that IOJ&K despite being an internationally recognized a disputed territory had been divided into two parts – Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir – by the Indian government and that too without the consent of the people living there. Resultantly, he said, India had brought these two newly divided areas under the direct control of Delhi and in turn inadvertently internationalized Kashmir.

“The area now occupied by India is actually a part of Pakistan as its people had wished to accede to Pakistan and despite all efforts of India to coerce them into submission they have rejected their rule and writ”, Masood said.

Terming August 5 and October 31 actions taken by India in IOJ&K as lebensraum, irredentism and expansionism, the president said that the rights to permanent residence, ownership of property, livelihoods and education – as protected by international law – had been usurped by Delhi. Since April, this year, after the introduction of the New Domicile Rules the Kashmiris had been made homeless in their own homeland, he said. Masood Khan said that Hindus from all over India were being allowed to settle in IOJ&K and their domiciles were being made ready in a period of only 15 days on the instructions of Delhi.

The president informed the audience about the dire situation in IOJ&K. He said that according to a recent report, over 13,000 Kashmiri boys had been picked up by Indian forces. These young Kashmiris - some as young as 9 years-old - had been imprisoned in prison houses all over IOJ&K and northern India where they were being subjected to unimaginable torture. Under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous Kashmiris had been killed in staged encounters and so-called cordon and search operations.

“The Kashmiri people are fighting for their lives and this act of self-defence is an inherent right acknowledged in the UN Charter [Article 51]”, he said.

Masood Khan said that not only Kashmiris were being targeted but under the fascist rule of the RSS-BJP regime, Muslims all over India were being lynched, mobbed and – under the Citizen Amendment Act – were at risk of becoming stateless.

Responding to a question, the president said that the recent standoff between China and India had exposed the latter’s incapacity to face an equal military power. Having lived in China for eight years during his diplomatic career, the president said that he had the opportunity to witness the steely resolve of the Chinese people. He added that the People’ Liberation Army (PLA) is a far more professional, committed and resolute army as compared to the Indian army. “India has never triumphed in a war with an equal. Their experience entails fighting and killing its own people, and that too after disarming them”, he said.

To another question on the role of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the resolution of the Kashmir issue, the AJK president said that the OIC had openly and resolutely supported the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people and had staunchly reinforced Pakistan’s stance on the issue. He added that the OIC had issued strong communiqués on Kashmir condemning Indian actions. “This support of 57 brotherly countries cannot be undermined”, he said.

“A convict has become a cop”, said Masood Khan while referring to India’s entry to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member. He added that this was an anomaly in itself that the tormentor had been elevated to such a position. He said that India had to be de-seated from that position as grave human rights violations had been documented against it in reports published by leading international human rights organizations, and globally recognized bodies like the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, OIC-IPHRC, Amnesty International, Genocide Watch, and the UK Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir among others.

To the youth, the president said that they were the future of the nation and they should think passionately about the destiny of Pakistan. He urged them to contemplate on the current challenges faced by Pakistan and plan for the future. The youth, he said, must have a passion for excellence and should aim to be second to none.

President Khan said that for becoming a great nation, we must excel on all fronts and achieve the full spectrum – military, diplomatic and economic. Developing countries of the yester-decades, like Argentina, Indonesia, Malaysia, to name a few, had progressed due to sheer struggle towards a collective commitment for development.