Turkey hosts international conference on Kashmir

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ANKARA

Kashmir is not an internal matter of India, speakers gathered at an international conference in the Turkish capital agreed on Wednesday.

Kashmir Turmoil: Emerging Threats to Peace and Role of International Community was co-hosted by Turkey’s Institute of Strategic Thinking and Pakistan’s Lahore Center for Peace Research.

The speakers added that India’s Aug. 5 move to unilaterally scrap the special provisions of the disputed region is a potential trigger to cause instability in South Asia.

The provisions allowed Jammu and Kashmir to enact its own laws and protected the region’s citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in or owning land in the territory.

Sherry Rehman, a senator from Pakistan, said: “India is trying to redefine the global order […] It is doing it by use of power, not soft power.”

Rehman said India’s unilateral actions in Kashmir is a “slap on the face of international community and United Nations”.

“India’s attempt is not to just contain the resistance [of Kashmiris] but also contain the [Kashmir] story… not to let the news filter out,” Rehman said, about the communications blackout imposed by India in the aftermath of the change in status of the Muslim-majority state.

India has since gradually eased the lockdown partially restoring cell phone services.

Shamshad Ahmad Khan, a former Pakistani diplomat, warned that if the Kashmir dispute remains unresolved “it will have disastrous consequences as it has become a virtual nuclear flash point”.

Khan, who is also chairman of the Lahore Center for Peace Research, said: “India has tried to silence Kashmiris in past. It did not work and it will not work in future too.”

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.

India-Israel nexus

Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmaker Erkan Akcay said that world faces six key problems: Jerusalem, Cyprus, Kashmir, Crimea, Kashgar (Xinjiang).

“If these issues are solved the world will become a better place to live,” he said.

According to him, Kashmir has become the frontier of U.S.-China hegemony.

“Israel sells weapons to India, while U.S. backs India to counter China,” he said.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party lawmaker Muhammet Amin Abasoglu said the hopes and wishes of Kashmiris are integral to any solution.

“1972 Shimla Agreement created a status quo and both – India and Pakistan – should fulfill conditions of this agreement,” he said, noting that the pact bound both parties to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

President of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Ali Erbas recalled his school days, saying: “We would raise slogans in favor of struggle of Kashmiris.”

President of Turkey’s Court of Cassation Ismail Rustu Cirit termed Kashmir as a “bleeding wound”.

Former Iranian Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi said: “Kashmir dispute has affected many aspects of the region, including development, and the people of Kashmir as well as Pakistan have suffered a lot for 73 years now.”

“[But] Israel has been invited to the region which is dangerous,” he said, referring to growing India-Israel bilateral relations.

Pan-South Asia vision

U.K.-based Kashmiri lobbyist Lord Nazir Ahmad said that India’s ruling party has a pan-South Asian vision called “Akhand Baharat — Great India”.

“The acts of hardcore Hindu nationalists have nothing to do with Hinduism,” he said.

“Following what India did in Kashmir, Pakistan should withdraw from bilateral pacts including Shimla Agreement,” he added.

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