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Reversal of IOJK related actions should be a precondition for talks with India: Masood

MUZAFFARABAD, May 12: The AJK President Sardar Masood Khan has cautioned that any nod from Pakistan about bilateral talks on Kashmir and other consequential agenda will amount to endorsing India’s ongoing fascism and war crimes in occupied Kashmir. “These crimes include demographic changes, land grab, killings, detention of thousands of political activists, and cultural invasion,” he maintained.

In an interview with a Pakistani English language magazine, the state president said that although ceasefire along the Line of Control is a step in the right direction as it saves life and property of more than 600,000 people of the liberated territory and on the other side of the LoC, confidence-building measures beyond ceasefire are fraught with uncertainties about India’s real intentions.

Sardar Masood Khan said that lifting of the protracted and brutal military siege of Kashmir, restoration of the before August 5, 2019 status of the occupied state, and revocation of all illegal domicile certification for citizenship given to more than three million non-natives are some of the minimum confidence-building measures that are required before any engagement with India.

Pakistan should stick to these condition for the resumption of talks with Delhi,” he said and added that the history of bilateral talks — Simla, Lahore, or broadly the talks that started in the late 1980s and dissipated after 2008 — is a testament to the illusiveness and the futility of the process.

The State President said that India had always abused bilateral talks to blur the focus on Kashmir, consolidate its occupation of the territory, clutter the agenda with less important issues and to accuse Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism. India, he continued, would start each round with hubris and condescension, and Pakistan, ever so keen for a diplomatic solution of the Kashmir dispute, even though bilateral diplomacy was made to supplicate India for a continuation of the talks.

The AJK president said since the martyrdom of Burhan Wani in 2016, and the Indian siege of occupied Kashmir in 2019, Kashmir has been internationalised, and it has been discussed in the UN Security Council, the European Parliament, the US Congress, the British Parliament, and ASEAN parliaments, among others. He said that extensive coverage of Kashmir by the international media and debates in the leading international think tanks and human rights organisations had hurt India.

He went on to say that India’s fascist Hindutva-driven agenda has been questioned globally, though the criticism is not as sharp as it should have been, and now India wants to seek indemnity and immunity for its crimes against humanity in occupied Kashmir.

He warned that Kashmir should remain in the international space it has acquired; otherwise, there would be no pressure on India to engage in Kashmir.

To a question about the potential risks of entering into unconditional talks with India, Sardar Masood Khan said nobody is so naive as to start talks with India without conditions. “Don’t underestimate our diplomats, military commanders, and politicians. They have decades of experience of dealing with India,” he added but cautioned that the risks of starting another round of talks with India without clearing the deck could be disastrous. “Why does India falsely accuses Pakistan of terrorism in occupied Kashmir, while it brutalises the people untrammelled, wantonly, and criminally,” he said and questioned India’s false narrative.

“The biggest risk for Pakistan, however, is that any unilateral concession on Kashmir will imperil Pakistan’s own national security because Hindu zealots, who rule the roost in India, want to demolish the state of Pakistan, which they think is an aberration from their averred faith in Akhand [united] Bharat,” he warned.

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