Please allow me to extend my warmest welcome and sincere gratitude to all the distinguished guests for taking their valuable time to join us for the webinar on ‘Annexation of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir by India: Lessons for Regional Security’.
I would particularly like to note the participation of scholars from China, Iran, Turkey, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Occupied Kashmir in addition to our local friends.
The Kashmir conflict has been a great tragedy and unending tale of sufferings of Kashmiris with a large loss of human lives; human rights violations – some of which have been documented by the international bodies; displacement of population; devastated economy, serious environmental damage, massive military buildup, and the immeasurable severe psychological distress. All of this, which is being caused by the actions of Indian troops in the occupied territory is horrific and condemnable beyond words.
India on 5th August last year illegally invaded the territory under its occupation and annexed it and colonized it; depriving it of all the emblems of its autonomy. This was done without the consent of the Kashmiris, who are the primary stakeholders. Indian action of August 5 and its subsequent moves related to Kashmir primarily resulted in increased disenfranchisement of people of Jammu and Kashmir; dispossession of their rights; and displacement of the local population.
Besides, the humanitarian angle the dispute has been a major source of tensions between nuclear armed India and Pakistan, who have already fought three wars since 1947 and have been to the brink of armed conflict on number of other occasions – more lately in February 2019 after the Pulwama attack. Therefore, there has to be a recognition that continuing tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir would continue to undermine stability in South Asia, besides perpetuating the risk of a nuclear war with serious consequences for all.
India’s expansionist agenda being driven by a Hindu fascist government in Delhi and its ideological fountainhead the extremist RSS leaves no room for complacence for anyone. India’s increased arrogance after the illegal annexation because most of the governments chose to turn a blind eye to it and massive arms buildup, increase in defense spending, and more importantly its increased problems with neighbours other than Pakistan, during the past one year, amply point towards its intentions. Indian thinking is manifested by what Indian government did after its armed clash with Chinese troops along LAC in June, when it went berserk buying MIG-29, MIG-30 and Rafales.
The immediate consequences I can, therefore. foresee for the region are impact on economic growth, increased defense spending, rise in extremism, and potentially more conflicts.
Therefore, the message for our neighbours in the region and the international community at large is that it should urgently pursue creative, persistent, and discreet high-level diplomacy to nudge India to reverse its illegal action of August 5, stop atrocities in Kashmir and work for a sustainable and peaceful resolution of the conflict.