Pakistan’s pro-Kashmir group organizes seminar
Islamabad: Pakistan’s first pro-Kashmir lobbying group, Youth Forum for Kashmir [YFK], organized a National Seminar on Kashmir Solidarity Day titled, ‘To Kashmir: We Stand By You’.
Keynote speakers included Dr. Shireen Mazari, Anwar ul Haq Kakar, Sardar Khalid Ibrahim, J. Salik, Brig. Simon Samson Sharaf, M. Akram Zaki, Syeda Qudsiya Mashahdi, and Syeda Mariah Atiq.
Ahmed Quraishi, Executive Director of Youth Forum for Kashmir, said Pakistan cannot ignore Kashmir because Kashmir is Pakistan’s geographical extension. Kashmir cannot be put on the backburner because Pakistan’s national security is directly linked to Kashmir.
He said it was wrong to link Kashmir to trade with India. Bilateral trade between Islamabad and New Delhi was progressing normally and the impression that Kashmir is an impediment was wrong, he said. Quraishi said trade with India does not mean sidelining Kashmir. He said any pact with India on trade, like the most-favored nation status, can be derailed any time if situation worsens on the Line of Control in Kashmir.
Dr. Syed Abdul Samad Pirzada, Head of History Department at International Islamic University Islamabad, said the cases of East Timor and Kashmir were similar and the West practiced double standards by supporting the former and ignoring the latter. He said any decision by Pakistan government to grant Most-Favored Nation status to India would be a betrayal of the struggle of the Kashmiri people.
Syeda Qudsiya Mashhadi, editor of Voice of East and a member of YFK, said all Pakistanis need to work on three levels to promote Kashmir internally and internationally at the level of the State, media and the youth. The Quaid-e-Azam, in a visionary statement, declared Kashmir a ‘jugular vein’ of Pakistan and no nation can survive for long with its jugular vein under the sword of the enemy. She said the hearts of Pakistanis beat along with the Kashmiris, and that the sooner the political parties and the media realize this fact the better it would be for the solidarity of the Pakistani nation.
Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, a PMLN politician, flew in from Quetta, Balochistan, to attend this national seminar. He said for Pakistan there is emptiness without Kashmir. He said Pakistan should not put Kashmir in the backburner because of trade with India. He questioned the idea whether trade with India is crucial for Pakistan’s economy. He was of the view that nurturing a knowledge-based economy in Pakistan would diminish the need for trade with India.
Dr. Shireen Mazari, Central Information Secretary of PTI, said Kashmir defines the relationship between Pakistan and India. She said a culture of resistance was missing in the Kashmir struggle in terms of arts and culture. She said only indigenous freedom movements can survive and can be successful, and that Kashmir freedom struggle survived for six decades despite up and downs. It is important to realize that Kashmir is not an integral part of India and that it is a dispute between Pakistan and India awaiting resolution.
Sardar Khalid Ibrahim, member of Jammu and Kashmir People’s Party, said if trade guaranteed prosperity, as the proponents of sidelining Kashmir argue, then why Calcutta and Dhaka continue to be poorest cities in the world despite open trade regime between India and Bangladesh?
He said Pakistan and India cannot overcome the trust deficit between them until they resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance to the will of Kashmiris.
J. Salik, former federal minister and rights activist, said Pakistani Christians are ready to play their role in promoting Kashmir cause worldwide. He said Pakistani Christians played a crucial role in passing Pakistan Resolution in pre-Independence Punjab Assembly. He said Pakistani Christians were again ready to play a role in Pakistan’s most important cause.
Senator Akram Zaki, former Secretary General of Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former ambassador of Pakistan to China and the United States , said if the world needs evidence on what the Kashmiris want, all it should do is look at what Kashmiris do on 14 and 15 August each year. On the 14th, Pakistan Independence Day, Pakistan’s Green and Crescent flag can been seen all over Srinagar under the watch of India’s occupation army. And on the 15th, the Indian independence day, Kashmiris boycott all efforts by Indian army to celebrate the event. He revealed that Kashmiris in Indian-occupied Kashmir follow Pakistan Standard Time.
Other speakers in the national seminar included retired brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf, and Syeda Mariah Atiq from National Defense University.