By  Fiona Freddy

Mr. Asim Ali Khan, Charge D Affaire, Embassy of Pakistan in Nigeria.

Fighting terrorism is a global top priority and the Nigerian Government is committed to put an end to it, as it has threaten our security, our democratic values and the rights and freedoms of Nigerian citizens.  The Government’s efforts seem not to go unnoticed as Pakistan joins other States in extending a hand of friendship in its readiness to donate military hardwares  that will  help Nigeria resist terrorism. This was made known to us in an interview session with Mr. Asim Ali Khan, Charge D Affaire, Embassy of Pakistan in Nigeria. He also shared in details the enduring Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India.

In the fight against terrorism, Pakistan’s military might is very visible. In what way can your country support Nigeria in the area of military hardware.

We are ready to provide what can be provided in terms of Military hardware and trainings to the Nigerian Government, because of the

Pakistan and Nigeria have strong ties diplomatically and militarily. Hence, we are ready to assist in terms of Military hardware and trainings to the Nigerian Government.  For instance,

Our business visa’s has increase by 26% as well as the bilateral trade relations has increase to 46% when compared to 2017.

Giving this significance growth in trade relations, what specific areas do your government think can strengthen the relationship between the two countries?

Pakistan has started  the importation of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas. Our tractors in the field of Agriculture are also being introduced to Nigeria. Nigeria no doubt can  benefit from our country’s small and medium scale industries

Let us talk about an important area which is the Kashmir dispute. What exactly is this dispute?

Let me highlight this issue from its inception. The Kashmir dispute is the oldest unresolved international conflict in the world today, Pakistan considers Kashmir as its core political dispute with India. So does the international community, except India.

It is a historical fact that India had illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir by landing its troops in Srinagar on 27th October, 1947 against the wishes of the Kashmiri people and in total disregard to the Partition Plan of the Indian subcontinent that had resulted in the formation of two new independent counties – Pakistan and India.

Map depicting the flags of both Pakistan and India as it relates to the Kashmir dispute

At the end of British suzerainty over Indian sub-continent in 1947, more than 550 Princely States had become independent but with a choice to accede either to Pakistan or India. Being a Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir had a natural tendency to accede to Pakistan, but the evil designs of its Hindu ruler and the leaders of Indian National Congress and Britain destroyed the future of the people of the territory thus sowing the seeds of the Kashmir dispute.

India claims that it signed ‘Instrument of Accession’, which was drafted in Delhi and presented to the then ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, on October 26. However, a prominent British historian, Alistair Lamb, challenging the Indian invasion in Kashmir, in his book “The Birth of Tragedy” wrote that the successive events after the partition of the united India strongly suggested that the Indian troops had invaded Kashmir prior to the signing of the Instrument of Accession.

He believed that a signed instrument of accession did not exist at all and argued that due to this reason the Indian government never made the so-called document public either officially or at any international forum.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir strongly resisted the Indian occupation and launched a mass struggle, liberating a vast area now known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Their resilience brought India at the verge of defeat and it sought the help of the international community to settle the Kashmir dispute. On 1st January 1948, New Delhi approached the United Nations Security Council, which in its successive resolutions – accepted by both Pakistan and India – promised holding of a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN-supervision to enable the Kashmiri people to decide their future themselves. These UN resolutions and the pledges made by the Indian leadership remain unimplemented even after the passing of several decades.

Is the Kashmir dispute politically motivated?

Your question requires that I throw some rays of light.The problem involves the inalienable right of the Kashmiri people to self –determination. The fact is recognized by the UN Security Council  resolutions.

The principals embodied in the UN Security Council, resolutions 47 (1948) of 21 April 1948. 51 of 3 June 1948, 80 (1950) of 14 March 1950 and 91 (1951) of 30 March 1951, and the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan resolutions of 13 August 1948 and 5 January 1949 expressly state that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.

This problem is a long lasting one, do you see the possibility of any solution?

The solution is, to conduct a free and fair plebiscite under international auspices as per UN resolutions to determine the will of the people. In this regard, the international community has to ply its role and exercise its influence over India for the implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir.

India should accept international arbitration or mediation to settle the issue as even Article (51) (d) of Indian Constitution encourages “settlement of international disputes by arbitration”. Violating its own constitutional requirement, India now rejects involvement of third party. If an early solution to the Kashmir dispute is not found, there is a possibility that the continued conflict could escalate embroiling not only the region but the entire world as both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers.

If a referendum is conducted amongst the Kashmiri people . What  do you think would be the result? Pakistan or India?

Pakistan’s affinity with the people of Kashmir can be understood in the backdrop of several reasons. Both share strong bonds in respect of religion, geography, culture and aspirations. Since 1947, India’s brutal occupation has been the cause of continued sufferings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Due to the atrocities of Indian troops, hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri people have migrated to Pakistan from the occupied territory and the main driving force behind their movement has been their strong emotional attachment to the country.

This affiliation has been accepted even by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. When asked a question in 1965 about holding of plebiscite in Kashmir, he had responded, “Kashmiris would vote to join Pakistan and we would lose it. No Indian government responsible for agreeing to a plebiscite would survive.”

The passing of a resolution by the genuine representatives of Kashmiris in the meeting of Muslim Conference Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar on 19th July 1947 is a strong evidence of the ideological commonality between Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir and showed that the Kashmiri people had attached the future of the territory with Pakistan.

The resolution declared that Jammu and Kashmir would be a part of Pakistan and this development had happened about a month before the creation of Pakistan. The people of occupied Kashmir have time and again showed their attachment with Pakistan by raising the slogans of “Long Live Pakistan” and “We Want Pakistan.” They hoist Pakistani flags on the national days of the country and during anti-India demonstrations, whereas they observe such days of India as black days. Wrapping their martyrs in Pakistani flags before burial is a common practice of the Kashmiris.

Both Pakistanis and Kashmiris consider the Kashmir dispute as an unfinished agenda of the partition of the South Asian sub-continent in 1947 and the liberation struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir as an inseparable part of Pakistan Movement.