ANKARA (AA): Pakistan has said that it will explore all avenues to seek a peaceful resolution of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi, Pakistan’s ambassador in Turkey said his country will also assist the Kashmiri population to protect their identity, heritage, and language, in the wake of recent attempts of changing script of the Kashmiri language.
He also said that Pakistan was ready to abide by its obligations and procedural issues, once the UN Security Council takes substantive steps on the conduct of plebiscite in the disputed region.
Anadolu Agency: Apparently, India has conveyed to Pakistan and people in Jammu and Kashmir that what they want to achieve is unachievable. What is your response?
Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi (MSSQ): Well, unfortunately, India is acting like what oppressors and repressors and foreign occupiers have been always telling the oppressed, all during history. But history has proven aggressors and occupiers wrong. History will prove India wrong also.
India has no right to tell the Kashmiris and to the world that it is not going to grant the Kashmiris their rights, they are entitled to. While other occupiers and repressors in the world history who were using these words, were not democracies, there is a twist that in modern times we see a democracy behaving as world’s worst occupier and telling people they are not entitled to their democratic right of self-determination to determine their future as per resolutions of the UN Security Council. This is in fact, a reflection on the state of the world at present. India, self-professed democracy of the world should not be allowed to get away with it.
Q: Pakistan observed Feb. 5 as Kashmir solidarity day. What is the significance of this day?
MSSQ: It is one of the most important dates in the Pakistani calendar. It is a day of deep reflection. It is also a day to stand with our Kashmiri brothers and sisters and to tell them that we are with them. We support their just and legitimate struggle for the right of self-determination. And we will not rest until they get that right. Pakistan National Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution. It is to give diplomatic, political and moral support to the people of Kashmir and at the same time to tell the world about this crisis, which first of all, is a travesty against human rights and second, poses a serious threat to peace and security in the region and internationally.
Roadmap for Pakistan
Q: If we look back and see events that overtook Kashmir over the past one year from last solidarity day, the situation seems to have gone worse. What is the roadmap from now?
MSSQ: Unfortunately, if India had its way the road has ended. Pakistan and the Kashmiris will never allow this to happen. Kashmiris and Pakistanis have patience, perseverance, and law on their side. In any contest between perseverance and force, eventually, patience and perseverance win.
Now, the roadmap is that Pakistan will use all avenues to protect the real cause to keep it alive to inform the world what is happening and will not allow India to get away with which is a test.
We look forward to a meaningful, substantive result-oriented intervention by the international community. The UN Security Council has intervened and had discussions on the issue. It is the responsibility of the international community to arrest the slides that India is right now to take away all the rights of the people of Kashmir. The roadmap is that we are there for meaningful result-oriented dialogue, our prime minister when he came into office said there is no substitute to that. India unfortunately right now is not in a listening mode. But the fact is, that what has happened in the last one year should be lesson enough for India, its leaders that force cannot substitute dilute or kill people’s desire for the right to self-determination.
Q: Over the past six months now, the Kashmir is under the communication blockade. In these times, the snapping of communication is seen as the biggest human rights violation. What is your response making access to the internet an internationally recognized fundamental right?
MSSQ: Even in the middle of the Sahara Desert, nomads have access to the internet, WhatsApp, social media and smartphones. What kind of a democracy is this in which an entire region with a population of 8 million people has no access to what all of us attribute to modern life, cell phones, social media, internet, newspapers, etc.?
Indeed, in some countries now access to the internet has been declared a fundamental human right. And, ironically, the people of Kashmir have been denied this. It is more tragic that it has not happened because of some accident. It is a pre-planned premeditated assassination of people’s right to know and the people’s right to speak. And again, the tragedy is all the greater that a self-professed democracy is doing this.
Threats to language and identity of Kashmiri people
Q: His Excellency, recently some other decisions have been taken by India, that pertain to language and identity of people of Kashmir. Urdu is no more an official language of Jammu and Kashmir. Recently official attempt has been made to change the script of the Kashmiri language. What is your response and duties of Pakistan to preserve the culture and identity of the Kashmiri people?
MSSQ: It is yet another very tragic, very sinister aspect of the broader tragedy of the situation in Kashmir. If you look at it from a broader perspective, again, this fits into the pattern of what India has been doing to the Kashmiris since 1947. The slow erosion of their independence and a slow erosion of their identity as a people.
This is the assassination of people’s identity. Right now, in this age when pluralism is considered to be one of the most fundamental attributes of a society and it should be celebrated rather than destroyed, Ironically, it was India at one point of time, which had sponsored of a resolution in the UN Human Rights Commission to celebrate pluralism.
Now, what kind of pluralism is this in which you take away the right of people that determine their own identity, their language? They think that by these measures, some frontal attacks, some from the side, that Kashmiris will eventually agree to accept the Indian occupation. It will not happen.
Pakistan will do everything possible to keep alive the Kashmiri identity and to assist our Kashmiri brothers and sisters to maintain and hold onto it. Because in the end, these are things that bring people together. We want to bring them together, India wants to destroy these attributes.
Q: Last six months many things have happened at the international level. UNSC met twice, the European Union Parliament discussed Kashmir. But there is still the impression that enough has not happened at the global level. Has Pakistan been able to convince the international community that Kashmir is a problem that needs to be sorted out?
MSSQ: Kashmir is certainly an issue. We would have wanted the attention of the world to be greater and its pronouncements on it clearer and stronger. But India probably had thought that it would get away with this highway robbery in the dead of the night. They have gone to such ridiculous heights such as denying entry to their leader of the opposition to Kashmir.
I do not think this has ever happened in the history of the world, that people you trust, the second senior-most political office in your land is denied entry into a territory where he wants to visit. The world has spoken about it, particularly the people of the world have spoken about it. There have been massive rallies in world capitals. Media across a spectrum in the West and the East has spoken about it. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has taken cognizance. The UN Security Council, you mentioned discussed this issue. We are sitting in a country where the top leadership has spoken about it.
When a crime is being committed in the full view of the international community, no amount of outrage is enough. The objective is to stop it. And it will only stop if everybody individuals, groups, political parties, governments all speak in one voice that what is wrong is wrong.
Pakistan to abide by UN obligations
Q: On one hand, you mentioned India’s intransigence in not talking to you. You want India to return to the table, but your leaders also say that bilateralism has failed. Is it not a contradiction?
MSSQ: It is not a contradiction at all. All peace-loving countries use all avenues to address a situation, particularly a situation which is about fate and destiny and about living conditions of more than 8 million people and also when a situation has serious effects on regional peace and security. So, we can speak bilaterally, we will speak multilaterally. All the avenues available to civilized democratic countries should be availed for a peaceful meaningful discussion to settle the dispute or a situation and Kashmir eminently fits that.
Q: There is an argument put across by India that according to UN Security Council resolutions, Pakistan had some obligations before holding of plebiscite. Is Pakistan ready to fulfill its obligations?
MSSQ: Once the UN Security Council gets involved meaningfully and substantively on this issue, we will take care of all situations and procedural issues that arise. The objective is to ensure a peaceful, free fair plebiscite under the UN-administered force. If these conditions are met, we have no problems.
Q: Pakistani leaders have been often warning that Kashmir’s issue may snowball into a nuclear war or a military conflict. Doesn’t it amount to warmongering?
MSSQ: Well, number one, I would like to clear the perception that it is not Pakistan that is painting the doomsday scenario. Pakistan is just telling the world of the implications of what is happening next door. Pakistan has done nothing to bring the situation in South Asia and Kashmir to this unfortunate point. The dubious credit for all of it goes to India and its leadership despite being the leader of the self-professed democracy.
Just a few days back a person no less than the Indian prime minister in one of the rallies threatened that Pakistan will be grounded to dust. What kind of a democracy it is that rewards its leaders to say things like this and which democratic leader uses such language.
So, it is not Pakistan. We are duty-bound to inform the world what is likely to happen if the behavior, attitude, actions, and pronouncements of the Indian leadership are not arrested at this stage. The world has experienced this. Our prime minister while speaking at Davos also informed the world about the dangers. The dangers Europe faced last century have traveled to South Asia. And the scale there was unfortunate, horrendous, but nothing compared to the scale to happen in South Asia. I hope the same road is followed that was followed against the dangers in Europe. We all need to work together to ensure that some degree of sanity some degree of decency some degree of democratic behavior is injected into the Indian leadership. Please do not play with fire.