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President Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan Tuesday called upon the people of Pakistan and AJK to get prepared for 'proxy war' that has already been imposed by India and to defeat its designs through unity. Addressing a one-day conference on "Kashmir Conflict and South Asia's Security," jointly organized by Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University, and Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI), Masood Khan said that a strong Pakistan on all dimensions including economy and security, and the AJK will guarantee the realization of the right to self-determination of the people of the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

He urged think tanks, research institutions, academics and students for preparing a comprehensive strategy to help create critical global awareness on the plight of the Kashmiris, and help strengthen and stabilize Pakistan and Azad Kashmir in terms of defence and economic development.

"We would have to come forward to devise a policy to counter not only the dangers confronting the country, but also to divert the dangers posed by India to the whole region," he said. "If we as a united nation failed to make Pakistan a powerful state, we will not only be losing Kashmir but also will have to tackle the existential threat posed to Pakistan from India," he warned.

He said, "To ensure peace and stability of Pakistan, it is imperative to bring Pakistan at par in terms of defence to deter the enemy from casting an evil eye on our country. For this purpose, it is necessary to ensure unity and cohesion among the nation along with ensuring the economic development of the country."

The AJK president stressed the need for understanding India's strategy against Pakistan and the whole region. "The incumbent Indian rulers are toeing a policy design to establish 'Akhand Bharat' or 'Bharat Bhoomi' in the region," he said, adding that Akhand Bharat will have no room for the followers of any other religion including the Muslims, and that India's action of August 5 was also part of the same strategy.

He said that India's aggressive posture leaves little space for peace in the region and this escalation may lead to a war between the two nuclear neighbours. He said even a limited nuclear engagement will lead to deaths of millions and over 2.5 billion can be affected directly or indirectly.

Masood Khan pointed out that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath are continuously threatening to attack Azad Kashmir and retake it, while the Hindu fanatic outfit RSS is threatening to disintegrate Pakistan. For this purpose, he went on to say that they have already started imparting military training to hundreds of thousands of men and women in India.

He underlined that deprivation of Muslims of Bihar and the citizens of Assam and Bengal of Indian nationality is part of the same policy because Hindus believe that India would not become "pure" until this is purged of non-Hindus. "We are repeatedly cautioning the world of the wave of hate and the future dangers rising from India, inhuman treatment of Muslims in Kashmir, but despite this, some influential countries are upholding their economic and political interests over humanity and are not ready to speak against India," he regretted.

He also called upon the students, teachers and civil society to use the power of traditional and modern media to access the Indian civil society, and apprise them of the potential dangers because a major part of India's civil society also feels the threat of this neo-nationalist policy being projected by Modi and his government.

Vice Chancellor Quaid-e-Azam University Professor Dr Mohammad Ali condemned the atrocities being committed by the Indian forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir and reaffirmed support for Kashmiris. Executive Director IPI Professor Sajjad Bokhari said denial of self-determination for Kashmir since 1947 continues to have consequences until today. Speaking about the tensions between Pakistan and India and the threats to peace and stability in the neighborhood, he said that the situation is not just problematic because two nuclear states are toe to toe, but it is particularly worrisome because of India's hegemonic designs, its pursuance of offensive military doctrines, nuclear blackmail, rejection of proposals for strategic restraint, and refusal to follow the path of dialogue for resolving outstanding issues.

Assistant Professor QAU Dr Salma Malik delivered a talk on "Exploiting the strategic fault lines". She contended that although annulment of Article 370 on August 5 may not have changed the status of Kashmir conflict, it is a worrisome development because it has aggravated the plight of the Kashmiris and Modi's antics were threatening peace in the region.

Head of Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Dr Shabana Fayyaz called for pursuing a multi-pronged strategy on Kashmir in which international community should be engaged more effectively, peace lobbies within India should be contacted, Pakistan be made stronger through better governance and improved economy, and national consensus and unity be strengthened.

Dr Nasrullah Mirza, on this occasion, gave a presentation on water dispute between Pakistan and India. In his view, Kashmir and Indus disputes were intertwined in nature and have strong linkages with war and peace in the region.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019