Monday, 5 July 2010

Exploitation of Kashmiri resources must stop; Pak wrong policies forcing people to be pro India, said Kashmiri leaders in a seminar held in Luton

Exploitation of Kashmiri resources must stop; Pak wrong policies forcing people to be pro India, said Kashmiri leaders in a seminar held in Luton, England.
05 July 2010

Written by Dr Shabir Choudhry

The seminar tilted Neelam Jhelum Hydroelectric Project was organised by Kashmir National Party in Luton on 4 July, in which Kashmiris and Pakistanis representing different view points took part. All the speakers expressed their serious concerns about the exploitation of natural resources of Jammu and Kashmir, and demanded that this process must stop.

The Kashmiri leaders said India and Pakistan while using our resources must keep in mind that these resources belong to people of Jammu and Kashmir. If people of Jammu and Kashmir do not benefit from the development projects then that would be considered as plundering and looting of our natural resources.

The seminar was chaired by Abbas Butt, who gave background details to the seminar and how Kashmiri resources were exploited. He said KNP is not anti Pakistan or anti India. We have always taken pro people and pro Kashmir actions, and feel proud that we are true nationalists who want to promote liberal and secular politics. We want to defend rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir and promote peace and better understanding among all the ethnic groups living in South Asia.

KNP Chairman said: we can choose friends but we cannot choose or change our geography. We all have to live in South Asia, and it is in the interest of all that we learn to live in peace and share our resources for the betterment of people of this region. If policy of loot and plunder continues that will prove disastrous not for only people of Jammu and Kashmir but also for the entire region, as it will provide oxygen to those forces who want to spread communalism, extremism and hatred.

Abbas Butt said, ‘We appreciate Pakistan’s water and energy requirements and want to help them in this regard as well; but they should learn to share resources and not to exploit us by behaving like an imperial power. They need to acknowledge that these resources belong to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and people of the area must benefit from this’.

Dr Shabir Choudhry in his keynote speech said, ‘Water is fundamental to human survival, and many countries have serious shortage of water and energy, yet demand is on increase. Lack of sufficient clean and useable freshwater has adverse impact on economy and prosperity of many countries. Because of this scarcity, water has taken a strategic role for many states; and could be cause of conflicts in future.’ He said many experts believe future wars will be fought over water.’

He said, ‘Water is natural resources of Jammu and Kashmir, but it was India and Pakistan who decided how to use our water in Indus Water Treaty of 1960. We cannot even use water according to our wishes or requirements’. In order to appease his political masters, puppet Prime Minister of Pakistani Administered Kashmir, Sikandar Hayat told a seminar on March 6, 2003 “The freedom fighters of Kashmir are in reality fighting for Pakistan's water security and have prevented India from constructing a dam on the Wular Barrage.”

Dr Shabir Choudhry said: ‘In line with its past policies, Islamabad has started a mega project in its colony, known as Azad Kashmir. They did not even care to consult, get permission, or have a formal agreement with the rulers of this territory. Neelam Jhelum Hydroelectric Project is located near Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani Administered Kashmir, and it aims to dig a tunnel and divert water of Neelam River which will generate 969 MW of electricity annually’.

He said, ‘The project will benefit Pakistan, but local people will not benefit from it in any form or shape. However, there will be serious economic and environmental consequences for the local people; and their future generations will face very serious economic and environmental problems. Our first priority is to safeguard interest of our people and unfortunately we have to be apologetic over this because of fear of being declared anti Pakistan’. He said, ‘Love of country is part of our faith and we will continue to oppose those who colonise us and loot and plunder our resources’.

Professor Rafiq Bhatti who is a senior leader of UKPNP and have travelled from Mirpur said, ‘KNP leadership should be congratulated for arranging this seminar on a topic which will have disastrous impact on people and environment of the area.’ He said, ‘Many people only deal with current issues, but thinking people also have eyes set on events of future, because we have to plan our future today. We have to ensure what we do today will not be detrimental to the interests of our future generations. Our loyalty should be with our nation. It is our duty to inform our people what is being done to their economy and how our resources are being exploited’.

He said, ‘Both India and Pakistan are plundering resources of our State, and who ever speak out for rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is declared as anti Pakistan’. He said, ‘It is ironic that Sind Assembly can pass a resolution against construction of Kala Bagh Dam even though that is to benefit Pakistan; and no one call them anti Pakistan’. He said, ‘If economic matters are not resolved appropriately then people could be forced to think of alternatives which could lead to extremism and violence.’

Javed Shah, representing JKLF, said: ‘This is a trivial matter and I advise the KNP leaders not to waste time on the dam and water issues. They should use their time and resources on positive things’.

Hussain Suharwardi Shaheed, a leader of Muslim Conference said people of Azad Kashmir have given sacrifices for Pakistan and we will not hesitate to do the same again. But on the issue of construction of mega dams like Neelam Jhelum Project Government of Pakistan should consult us and give us appropriate royalty for this. He said all people uprooted because of these development projects should be compensated. Our party has always supported Pakistan and cared for interests of Pakistan, but we should not be treated unfairly.

Nawaz Majid, Secretary General of KNP British Zone said: Because of wrong policies of Pakistan, people of Pakistani Administered Kashmir are having ideological changes. At one time 100% people on this side of the LOC opposed accession to India, but on my recent visit to POK I have met people who openly said, ‘If given only two choices they will opt for India, as they have better system and more facilities than what could be available on this side.’

He said, ‘Apart from Pakistani dam on River Neelam, India is also constructing a dam known as Kishanganga Hydro Electrical project. These both projects will surely have very serious impact on environment of the area, not to mention its negative impact on wildlife and beauty of the region which is major source of tourism’.

Asif Masood Choudhry who represented NSF, said: KNP leadership should be congratulated for holding a seminar on this important topic which will affect future of our generations. He said the way the Pakistani authorities have started this project clearly shows they do not care about Kashmiri laws or interests of the local people and danger to the wildlife. They have just started construction without any contract with the Azad Kashmir Government; and this clearly shows what kind of independence this government has.

He said: NSF has history of opposing Pakistani occupation and Pakistani policies In Azad Kashmir, and we will continue to do that. He said we will support the KNP leadership in whatever steps they might take to oppose this project which is unjust and exploits our resources.

Master Nisar, a political activist of Muslim Conference said: His party has always supported accession to Pakistan and we have always given sacrifices for the cause of Pakistan. He said Pakistan has serious water and energy needs, and during this difficult time we need to help Pakistan. I am first Pakistani then a Kashmiri. To me Pakistan and Kashmir are same.

Raja Yasin, a political activist of Muslim Conference said: We support Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan, but it does not mean that we should not ask for our legitimate rights. We do care for Pakistan’s water requirements, but we should get royalty for this. Pakistan must have a contract with Azad Kashmir government, and must give compensation to the affected people.

Usman Kiani, President of UKPNP said: We are not Pakistanis; even constitution of Pakistan does not regard us as Pakistanis. We must not live in fantasy world. I am a nationalist Kashmiri. I am a Kashmiri first and Kashmir last. UKPNP have worked together with the leadership of KNP and we have shared platforms in Geneva and in many other places. I want to assure the KNP leaders that we will support them in this campaign, because it is in the national interest of our country.

Maqsood Hussain Shah, author and political activist said: we appreciate Pakistan’s water requirements but we also have some genuine requirements. If they build this dam it will affect our lives and lives of our future generations. It will also affect lives of many other species. Pakistan must consult government of Azad Kashmir. We should oppose Neelam Jhelum hydro Project and if need be we should contact the UN and other international bodies. He said we people of Kashmir must be part of any talks on Kashmir. It is not for India and Pakistan to decide our future. He emphasised the need of unity that we could have some say in the future talks on Kashmir.

Ejaz Pracha, a Pakistani activist said: You people have some genuine issues. We have no leadership in Pakistan to protect interests of Pakistan; and you people have no leadership to protect your interests. My advice to you is to get maximum unity and only then you can protect rights and interests of your people.

Nazam Bhatti, President of KNP in his concluding remarks said: ‘We are true nationalist and it is our duty to protect interests of people of Jammu and Kashmir; and we must not be apologetic over this. We must be steadfast in our resolve and totally ignore what critics say about us. Some people have a role to criticise us and deter us from doing our national duty’.
He said, ‘those who have interest of people of Jammu and Kashmir close to their hearts, to them construction of this dam is very serious matter because it is economic and environment disaster. We have right to use our resources according to our requirements. Any project which is against our wishes and against our requirements must be opposed; and if necessary destroyed’. END

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