The issue of peace and stability in South Asia was addressed in a conference here Wednesday by Pakistan’s top envoy in Turkey.
Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi said a lasting peace cannot be obtained in South Asia without settling the Kashmiri dispute.
“There can be no lasting peace in South Asia without a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute based on the UN Security Council resolutions and the will of the Kashmiri people,” Qazi said at the conference organized by the Turkish think-tank Economic and Social Researches Center.
Different parts of Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir are held by India and Pakistan with both sides claiming the region in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Qazi contextualized current tensions in South Asia, arguing “the flare-up was neither unexpected nor something that is not likely to repeat itself”.
He shared his perspectives on the dynamics governing the events, as well as highlighted Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for lasting peace and stability in South Asia.
Noting that nearly 1.5 billion people of South Asia are “yet again living under the shadows of a possible conflict,” Qazi said that: “The region has repeatedly walked to the brink of war and has crossed this brink several times owing to the unsettled Jammu and Kashmir dispute.”
India and Pakistan have fought three wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir — since they were partitioned in 1947.
Widely quoted estimates for the number of people killed in the conflict since 1989 go as high as 70,000, but other calculations based on Indian government data are far smaller, at about 41,000. India maintains a large military presence in the disputed region.
Peace in South Asia needs the “courage and honesty” to address the fundamentals of the conflicts in the region, he said.
“Unless some countries in our region choose to face this reality squarely, the region will continue stumbling from one crisis to another, on the brink of disaster – something two nuclear-armed neighbors cannot conceive of.”
Qazi stressed there is no pathway to reach the end without a dialogue.
Tensions between nuclear-armed neighbors escalated after a suicide attack last month on an army convoy in Indian-administered Kashmir, which killed at least 40 Indian troops. India accused Pakistan of being involved in the attack, a charge Islamabad denies.
The escalations were further fueled when warplanes from both sides engaged in a dogfight along the border of disputed Kashmir on Feb. 27. India and Pakistan claimed to have downed each other’s planes and an Indian pilot was captured.