Tuesday, February 28, 2012

‘India should stand firm on PoK issue’

Former External Affairs Minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said that India should shed its defensive posturing on the issue of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Northern Areas and raise its pitch against the neighbour in the international forum. 

Sinha was airing his opinion at the inaugural address of a day-long international seminar ‘POK and Northern Areas-Present Status and Way Forward’ organised by Centre for Security and Strategy.

“India has for long been one of the good boys in the international arena. Now is the time to behave like a bad boy on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and send the message loud and clear that India means business,” he said stressing on the need for the country to vehemently decry the “ceding of these regions by Pakistan” and press for its undoing.

Lamenting the fact that the world did not know about the plight of the people of POK and the “brutal suppression of dissenting voices there,” the BJP leader termed these areas as “dark and secluded.”
While the international community knew about Tibet “thanks to the stature of Dalai Lama, it is unaware about POK as there is no Dalai Lama there,” he said adding people in India also did not talk about so-called Azad Kashmir or Gilgit and Baltistan which are parts of the Northern Areas.

Tracing the history of the dispute between India and Pakistan on POK and Northern Areas, he said that after India approached the UN in 1949 for resolving the Kashmir issue, the UN passed a resolution. It called for immediate ceasefire between the two countries, vacation of POK and Northern Areas by the Pakistan Army and then a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. However, Pakistan is yet to toe that international line and has instead been aggressively demanding that people of Jammu and Kashmir be allowed the right of self determination, he said.

Initiating the debate, Rajya Sabha MP Dr Chandan Mitra said successive Governments in India followed a “pusillanimous” policy on the Kashmir issue. Moreover, “POK and Northern Areas are hidden away from the world and people are not aware about torture of locals there,” he said.

Mitra said these two regions had become “chambers of experimentation” for the Pakistan regime and “there is little knowledge about our neighbourhood in India, leave alone the world.”

Mumtaz Khan, a native of POK who had to flee to Canada due to persecution, urged India to play a more pro-active role in drawing the attention of the world to plight of locals and the forcible changing of demographic profile of the region by Islamabad.


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