Nepal and Pakistan are best friends forever. How do you assess bilateral relations between the two countries since their establishment in 1960.
You are very right.
Pakistan and Nepal have always enjoyed very friendly relations. These relations are marked by absence of any differences or irritants. There is an increasing cooperation in various fields, especially in education. They share the same region and have cultural similarities and historical linkages dating back to thousands of years. They have always stood with each other in times of natural disasters, be it floods or earthquakes. They have been cooperating at United Nations and other international fora; and I am confident that this cooperation will not only continue but also grow and get stronger.
Relations between the two countries are based on the principles of mutual respect and non-interference and draw their strength from strong people to people cordiality.
2020 is the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Nepal. How do you assess bilateral relations between the two countries since their establishment in 1960.
Year 2020 is the 60th anniversary of Pakistan-Nepal diplomatic relations. We had planned a large number of activities to celebrate the occasion. This included Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meeting, high level visits, joint initiatives, exchange of trade and media delegations and cultural troupes, seminars, photo exhibitions and so on.
We took a good start with the convening of Foreign Secretary level talks in February. Unfortunately rest of the activities had to be called off due to COVID-19 Pandemic. Man proposes God disposes. But I am sure we will have many opportunities to celebrate our friendly relations.
It is one year since August 5, 2019 when India revoked Article 370 of its Constitution. This Article of the Constitution had given a Special Status of Indian Occupied Kashmir. How do you see the developments on Jammu Kashmir dispute in this one year.
5 August would complete one year since India’s illegal action to revoke Article 370 of its Constitution, which had given a Special Status to this Indian Illegally occupied territory. To evaluate developments of the last one year, one has to see what this illegal action was, how the people of IIOJK have reacted to it and how the international community has viewed it.
As you know, according to several UN Security Council resolutions, future of Jammu Kashmir is to be decided by none other than the people of Jammu Kashmir through a free and fair plebiscite. This right to self determination of the people of Jammu Kashmir is what Kashmiri freedom struggle is all about. Stripping off the Special status allows Indians to settle in Jammu Kashmir and hence change the demography of the disputed territory. That is against the UN charter and the UN Security Council resolutions which require a plebiscite to be held in Jammu Kashmir to decide the future of this former princely state.
.Now let us see how international community has reacted to the India’s illegal action.
Three days after New Delhi’s illegal action, on 8 August UN Secretary General António Guterres urged against taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir. Then there were two Sessions of the UN Security Council on Jammu Kashmir. One in August 2019 and the second in January 2020. This happened after a gap of some fifty years. In February 2020, UN Secretary General visited Pakistan. In his statement, he reiterated the UN stance for solution of the dispute in accordance with the UN Charter and the resolutions of the Security Council.
Similar calls for resolution of the dispute were made by the OIC and also the EU.
All this echoed what Pakistan had been saying now for decades. It is all about the right of self-determination and the implementation of UN resolutions. That is what the people in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu Kashmir have been struggling for in the face of worst brutalities at the hands of Occupation forces.
That the final disposition of Jammu Kashmir is to be decided by the people of Jammu Kashmir as per UN resolutions was never a matter of even the slightest doubt for those familiar with the UN systems and international affairs. Intensification of human rights violations by the Indian forces in IIOJK is another tragic painful chapter in the history of Jammu Kashmir. All these developments have underlined the urgency to resolve the dispute by implementation of the UN resolutions.
A lot has been said about the human rights situation in Jammu Kashmir, especially after India’s revocation of Article 370. How do you see the human rights situation there ?
India’s illegal action of 5 August was preceded by deployment of additional 180,000 security personnel on the top of already present 700,000; a concentration that had already earned the illegally occupied territory the dubious distinction of being the most heavily militarized place in the world; a complete military siege.
Many called it “the largest open prison in the world”. On the top of that there was a complete internet and media shut down. Tales of atrocities that could permeate through an opaque media blockade were horrendous. 13,000 young Kashmiris detained and tortured; night raids, rape, months long crippling curfew, with complete shut down of internet, paralyzing daily lives and cutting off eight million Kashmiris from the rest of the world.
At the time when Indian government was claiming normalcy, New York Times was saying that their “Cameras contradict India’s official story”; Human Rights Watch was saying, Indian government can’t just claim to be lifting restrictions in Kashmir, but needs to ensure that everyone’s rights are respected.
And then we have to remember that these human rights violations were on the top of a painful history of decades. More than 100,000 Kashmiris have been martyred in the last three decades. Over 1000 blinded by the use of pellet guns in more recent years.
In June 2019, Amnesty International captioned its report, “Tyranny of a Lawless law”. Name tells the tale. An year earlier the UN Human Rights report had urged establishing a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations.
I would stop there, because if I continue to talk on that issue, perhaps it would consume a whole day of your air time; and yet the account would remain incomplete.
Jammu Kashmir dispute has remained in focus internationally throughout the year. How do you see the future of the dispute? What do you think, needs to be done to resolve this dispute?
When we talk about the future of Jammu Kashmir, one has to look at the history of the dispute.
That the future of Jammu Kashmir has to be decided only and only by the people of Jammu Kashmir is an undeniable fact; It is promised by to them under UN Security Council resolutions. Non-implementation of these resolutions is the problem and their implementation, the solution. This is all that Kashmir freedom struggle is all about; a struggle in the face of worst possible systematic oppression and brutalities.
As for Pakistan, it will stand by their just struggle for their right of self determination. We have always stood with them, are standing with them and will continue to provide them moral, political and diplomatic support till the day that they get their promised right. And let me also tell you, their getting their right is a writing on the wall.
Another lesson that we learn from history is that durable peace and stability in the region will remain elusive without a just settlement of the Jammu Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions. The sooner these resolutions are implemented the better it will be for the people of Jammu Kashmir, for the region and for the world.
It is the responsibility of the international community and all the peace and freedom loving people in the world to fulfil their responsibility in ensuring the rights of the people of Jammu Kashmir including their right of self determination. The sooner this right is given to them the better it will be for the people of Jammu Kashmir and for peace and stability in the region and beyond.
Both Nepal and Pakistan are members of SAARC. But in the last few years the role and even existence of SAARC seems very poor and inert. How do you look at the SAARC process.
Regional cooperation and integration has always remained an important prerequisite of economic development; and that is more so in today’s world which is often called a global village. That is what all the success stories of regional integration tell us ; European Union and ASEAN being two glaring examples.
Pakistan does understand and appreciate the importance of regional integration. It has endeavored for economic integration on all sides; with the China in the North through CPEC, with West Asia and with Central Asia. Unfortunately, its integration in with South Asian countries through SAARC has come to a near stand still.
SAARC is the vehicle of regional cooperation and integration in our region which is house to one fifth of the entire humanity. Ours is one of the least integrated regions in the world and, also house to the largest chunk of people living below poverty line.
Unfortunately, regional cooperation under SAARC was mixed with bilateral relations and a baseless and an unhelpful blame game. 19th SAARC Summit that was to be held in Pakistan in 2016 could not be held because of that.
Here I may mention that to have regional integration and cooperation one ought to recognize the importance of regional integration. Regional cooperation agenda must be kept separate from bilateral relations. That was precisely the approach followed by both, the EU and the ASEAN before they could become success stories and models for the contemporary world. Both succeeded despite differences among their member states. The approach adopted was simple: not to make regional cooperation dependent on bilateral problems. Baseless blame games are anyway unhelpful.
How is the situation of COVID pandemic in Pakistan? What steps did Pakistan take to tackle the challenge.
Unfortunately, COVID has hit the whole world including our region bad. In Pakistan we lost more than 5,500 lives with a total over 270,000 positive cases.
Pakistan imposed a smart lockdown, with full fledge lockdown in areas with a larger number of cases. The duration of such lockdowns varied according to the number of cases. This was coupled with tests and preparedness at hospitals. In Pakistan, thanks God COVID is now receding. Everyday there are more recoveries than the new cases. The number of active cases has fallen down to less around 25,000 cases. This has come down from more than 125,000 a few weeks ago. Let us hope that we all overcome this challenge soon.
Through you, I would convey my wishes to the people of Nepal for safety from this pandemic.
As Ambassador of Pakistan to Nepal, what message would you like to give to the people of Nepal.
My message for the people of Nepal on this auspicious occasion is nothing new ; a reiteration of the message of love friendship and cordiality. A renewed commitment to the bond that the two countries and the two peoples have traditionally enjoyed.
Long live Pakistan Nepal friendship… Thankyou.