MIRPUR (AJK)-AJK President Sardar Masood Khan said that India’s objection to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is unfounded, irrelevant and uncalled-for.

“International conventions do not prohibit economic development or foreign investment in disputed areas,” the AJK president remarked during a meeting with Laura Schuurman, an illustrious researcher and writer on Monday.

Masoor Khan said that CPEC is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is a mega project, aims at economic inter-connectivity. Speaking about India’s objection over the CPEC, he said that India hardly objected to the Karakoram Highway passing through Gilgit-Baltistan but this time around, India feels threatened by China’s growing economic and political influence in the region. He said that India also fears that Pakistan will reap the benefits of this projects leading to economic stability and prosperity.

He said that the CPEC will revolutionise economic activity in this region by not only connecting Pakistan to China but also establishing access routes to Central Asia; making Pakistan a trade conduit and an economic destination. He informed that in AJK, four major projects under CPEC which including two hydropower projects (Kohala and Karot), a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Mirpur and an Expressway connecting the SEZ to the Central CPEC route have been approved which are under different stages of planning and implementation.

The AJK president while discussing the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir said that 700,000 armed forces personnel have been deployed in IOK, making it the highest military concentration of any country in a conflict zone. These forces, he said, were terrorizing the unarmed Kashmiris by openly murdering innocent protestors, maiming the youth, harassing the Hurriyat leadership and illegally incarcerating the people whose only demand is to exercise their just right to self-determination. He added that India is using sexual violence as an instrument of war by brazenly dishonouring, molesting and raping Kashmiri womenfolk. “The human right situation in IOK is dismal”, he said.

Even though, in its constitution, India has claimed Kashmir to be its integral part, yet after 70 years of coercive tactics, political machinations and an economic blandishment it has failed to win the hearts of Kashmiris and has been unsuccessful in quelling the freedom movement in IOK.

Kashmir being an unfinished agenda of the United Nations, obligates the UN to resolve the conflict in an amicable, democratic and diplomatic manner according to the UN Security Council’s resolutions. He added that the UN Secretary General must not wait for India’s concurrence to talks, as it will never agree and instead he must use his good office to mediate and persuade India to the dialogue table. He said that the situation needs an early resolution, as any escalation between Pakistan and India – which are also nuclear powers – can jeopardize world peace and security.

President Azad Kashmir said that being the only sovereign window for the Kashmiri people, Pakistan has over the past 70 years kept the issue alive through its diplomatic and political support for the peaceful resolution of the conflict. He said that we will continue to raise our voice against the human right violations taking place in IOK.