Pakistan is foreign aggressor in Kashmir dispute: Gilgit activist

January 28th, 2010 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sarwar Kashani
New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) Kashmiri separatist leaders should stop taking “blood money” from Pakistan and realise that Islamabad is using the disputed strategic Himalayan region to secure its economic gains, says an activist from Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Pakistan, according to Senge H. Sering, a visiting fellow at the Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, is a “foreign aggressor” rather than a party to the Kashmir dispute.

Its role is withdrawing troops from the “occupied regions” and separatist leaders in the valley should open their eyes to the reality.

“They should stop taking blood money from Pakistan and its intelligence agencies. It is high time they realised that Kashmir is being used like a prostitute and some of its parts are being sold to China,” Sering told IANS in an interview.

“There is an impasse in resolving the Kashmir dispute (between India and Pakistan). The stalemate favours Pakistan more than India and is dangerously occupying the mindset of another Kashmiri generation.”

Sering, originally from Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan region, has been living in the US after obtaining his masters in development studies from the University of East Anglia.

A political activist from Gilgit at large, Sering said the main reason for the unending deadlock over the Kashmir issue is because Islamabad “is playing up in its favour a pro-Pakistan sentiment in the Sunni-Muslim dominated Kashmir Valley”.

As he sees it, the Kashmir issue is not about the valley only. “The valley is only 11 percent of the geographic area of the disputed region. Only 25 percent of people from the undivided state live in the valley,” Sering said, adding other regions and ethnic groups, “particularly the strategically vital and resource-rich Gilgit-Baltistan, are being deliberately neglected”.

“Whom does it favour? Only Pakistan,” he answered his own question and sought to substantiate the claim.

“Can you imagine how much Chinese investment Pakistan has silently invited in Gilgit-Baltistan? Enormous.

“On one hand Pakistan has kept India and Kashmiris busy with the unending issue and on the other has strengthened its illegitimate rule in Gilgit-Baltistan. This shrewd diplomatic policy has successfully distracted the international community from the real cause of the deadlock,” Sering said.

He was referring to China pouring billions of dollars in Gilgit-Baltistan that formed a part of undivided Jammu and Kashmir till 1947 when Pakistan militarily occupied the region along with Muzaffarabad and other parts of the state now known as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir”.

Beijing is investing in infrastructure building, including upgradation of the Karakoram Highway that connects China and Pakistan and opens a strategically vital trade route to Central Asia.

“The four-way Karakoram highway that is going to open a trade corridor to energy- and mineral-rich Central Asia. The region is set to become China’s gateway to the waters off Pakistan’s coast. Don’t you see a link there?” he said. The highway connects Pakistani cities to Kashgar in Xinjiang province.

Suggesting that leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistani Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan should unite in “some way”, Sering said that “valley leaders need to tell Pakistan ‘Thank you for your support’ and let’s now talk to India to resolve the issue”.

Sering is also surprised that nobody in India talks about Gilgit-Baltistan and Chinese illegal investment there. “I wonder, has India stopped claiming the region?”

(Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at s.kashani@ians.in)

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