International conference on PoKand Northern Areas
International conference on PoK
and Northern Areas
“There should be a nationwide movement to remind people that the only outstanding issue in India-Pakistan relations is to get back the territories occupied by Pakistan in Jammu & Kashmir,” said former Union External Affairs Minister Shri Yashwant Sinha. He was inaugurating an international conference on PoK and northern areas in New Delhi on February 22.
The conference was jointly organised by Centre for Security and Strategy (CSS) and India Foundation, New Delhi. Many eminent thinkers, intellectuals and experts including former High Commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathi, former DG of Punjab Police PC Dogra, Prof KN Pandita, senior journalist Vijay Kranti, former Director of IB Ajit Doval, former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu, former Vice Chancellor of Islamic University Prof Siddiq, MP from Kargil Hasan Khan, former MP Thupston Chhewang, etc. also spoke on the occasion.
The Conference was organised to remind the people of the country and the world about the unanimous resolution passed by the Indian Parliament on February 22, 1994, which categorically stated that Pakistan should vacate its illegal occupation of PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan and return these areas to India.
Emphasising that the areas in PoK legally and constitutionally belonged to India Shri Sinha decried the long silence of Indian dispensation on this issue and added that “India has behaved like a ‘good boy’ far too long and it is time it starts acting like a proverbial ‘bad boy’ insisting upon its right to get back PoK including Gilgit-Baltistan.” He said the problem of J&K is the outcome of repeated mistakes on the part of India.
Shri PC Dogra described the presence of China in northern areas as a danger bell. “Gilgit-Baltistan is strategically important for India. But China has built Karakoram highway and now it is installing mass destructive weapons there. According to New York Times, there are 7000 to 10,000 Chinese soldiers in this region. Apart from building roads, China has also built 22 tunnels, where a gas pipeline has been laid from Iran to China,” he said.
Shri Suresh Prabhu said Gilgit-Baltistan has huge quantity of natural resources and over 15000 MW hydropower can be generated there, which will help greatly to improve the economic condition of the region. “What is painful is that Pakistan has handed over these precious resources to China, which has started exploiting them for its own benefits,” he said.
Shri Mumtaz Khan, executive director of International Center for Peace and Democracy, Canada, said the people of PoK are struggling under the repressive regime of Pakistan and they are being denied basic democratic rights.
Shri Senge Sering, director of Institute of Gilgit Baltistan Studies, Washington, narrated the tragic living conditions of 1.4 million people of Gilgit-Baltistan region. “Schools are being run in poultry farms and colleges have been turned into police stations. There is no electricity for 18 hours and the government employees do not get salary for 6 to 7 months. The mines of minerals including uranium have been handed over to China,” he said.
Shri Vijay Kranti spoke about the miserable condition of the people who came from PoK and are living as refugees in Jammu and other areas of the country. “They are not allowed to open even a paan shop there, seek admission in any school, vote or get elected even for Panchayat,” he said adding the refugees should be acknowledged as a stakeholder in India. Since their three generations have been denied these rights, they now must get legal status.
Shri G Parthasarathi came down heavily on the negligence of northern areas where China is developing huge infrastructure. “If you cannot build even the communication network, you cannot defend the country. A strong national will is needed to meet the present challenges”, he said. (FOC)