J&K: Mirwaiz Umar-led APHC Urges India and Pakistan to "Break Ice" at the SCO Summit
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Image Courtesy: NDTV
Srinagar: The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) on Wednesday said that the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan should be used as an opportunity by India and Pakistan to “break the ice” amidst the ongoing hostilities between the two neighbours.
The SCO summit in the Uzbek capital of Samarkand is expected to be attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Shehbaz Sharif. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other heads of state are also likely to attend the meeting, which is considered key to bolstering strategic partnerships in Asia.
“As Indian and Pakistani prime ministers will be in Samarkand to participate in a two-day summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, it is an opportunity to break the ice in their relationship and talk to each other and move forward in resolving their differences, including the settlement of the Kashmir conflict,” the APHC said in a statement.
The APHC, led by jailed Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, pitched for a dialogue between the two countries, which the separatist group said is the only way forward to address the heightening friction since August 2019 in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.
India and Pakistan have stopped major trade, diplomacy, and even back-door talks as Pakistan opposed constitutional changes made by New Delhi, further straining the relations between the two hostile neighbours. The APHC, considered a moderate faction within separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir, has been advocating peace talks between the two countries as the only way to end the conflict.
The APHC said that post the unilateral changes made in J&K by New Delhi in August 2019, the situation on the ground is “volatile” though appearing to be ‘calm’ due to the extreme “sway of power” on people, the separatist group said, “cannot be sustained for long”.
“The Kashmir conflict has to be addressed, and dialogue among stakeholders is the best bet to a peaceful resolution. We once again urge upon both India and Pakistan to join in and take the process forward,” the APHC said.
The APHC has also asked the government to put an end to force implementation of what they see as “unilateral changes” made by them, including “demographic change”. The group also called for the release of all political prisoners, rights activists, journalists and youth in jails across India, including the APHC chairman Mirwaiz Umar. Umar has been put under house arrest and incarcerated at his Srinagar residence since August 2019.
Tensions swelled in South Asia since the heads of states met last time in person at Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in 2019. This is for the first time after the outbreak of the COVID pandemic that the leaders of the nations are expected to sit together amidst shifting geopolitical scenarios in the wake of the Ukraine war and happenings in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The summit is, however, happening after India and China made significant progress in Ladakh by completing troop disengagement at various stand-off points. This happened after several rounds of negotiations since the two countries confronted each other in 2020, souring relations.
The SCO alliance has been named after the Chinese city of Shanghai, where the first meet was held in June 2001. It is an alliance of eight full members, including its six founding members, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, while India and Pakistan joined as full members later in 2017.
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