Published On: Tue, Dec 12th, 2017

Senior Azad Kashmir figure calls for Turkish mediation

Speaker of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly asks Turkey to initiate dialogue between India, Pakistan

By Kubra Chohan

Shah Ghulam Qadir, the speaker of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly, has asked Turkey to initiate a dialogue between India and Pakistan.

“I think Turkey can move to ask India and Pakistan [to start a dialogue] as Turkey has already initiated in Afghanistan [with Pakistan],” Qadir told Anadolu Agency at Pakistan’s Embassy in Ankara.

Qadir said it would be a better option if Turkey played a mediator role to resolve the Kashmir issue and start a dialogue “because there is no dialogue going on between India and Pakistan”.

He praised Turkey for being a democratic country under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Asked about current efforts by the AJK to resolve the Kashmir conflict, Qadir said: “I am here in Turkey with a delegation, meeting parliamentarians and government officials. We have an extensive plan to visit all the capitals and we are meeting with the general human rights activists. We have a strong human rights activist working in Geneva for the UN Human Rights Council meetings.”

“We try to project the Kashmir cause and bring it to the notice of the international community,” Qadir added.

Qadir said the cause is sometimes prominent in the international arena, but sometimes not, emphasizing that “the conflict is always there” and “the Kashmiris are suffering”.

Hindu extremism

“Hindu extremism is a rising threat to world peace,” Qadir said.

“They [Indians] start firing on the civilians of Azad Kashmir, and we get killed. They want to divert attention of international media or other people,” Qadir said.

“Indians have done so many human rights violations,” Qadir added: “There is an extensive use of pellet guns”.

Qadir said: “[Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi has a track record of killing Muslims, and thousands of Muslims in Gujarat [riots in 2002] when he was chief minister there. So he has spread hatred against Muslims and fanatic Hindus are now in power.”

He said that the current Indian policy does not allow Kahmiris to get higher education or stay at hotels in India, nor do they let foreigners or tourists into Kashmir, which negatively affects the economy of the Indian side.

Qadir added that the only way to travel to the Indian-occupied side was a weekly bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad that started in 2005.

Qadir recalled: “I was an applicant for the first bus. They didn’t allow me. It takes two or three years for the Kashmiris to get a permit. Sometimes eight, sometimes 10 people come in a week.”

“The Indian government creates many hurdles. They don’t want Kashmiri families to be reunited,” he said.

Economy

Qadir said people did not intend to help because “they don’t want to annoy the large market of India so they are closing their eyes when the Kashmiri situation comes up”.

Qadir said the Indian government would not allow foreigners to invest in Kashmir since they would be “exposed”.

However, on the AJK side of Kashmir, investments are possible in hydrogenation facilities, forests, and precious stones, Qadir said.

“The Turkish government has always supported us. After 2005 earthquake in Azad Kashmir, they built us hospitals, many mosques, and many buildings. We are still utilizing those buildings,” Qadir said.

Since India and Pakistan were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965, and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.

Kashmiri resistance groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.

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