ANKARA, 6 February 2015: Participants of a seminar expressed strong solidarity with the oppressed Kashmiri people and reaffirmed unflinching support for their democratic right to self-determination. The seminar was held with joint collaboration of the Economic & Social Researches Centre (ESAM) and the Embassy of Pakistan in Ankara on Friday evening to commemorate the Kashmir Solidarity Day.
The seminar was attended by a large number of dignitaries, political workers, academics and researchers, students, media and civil society representatives, and members of the Pakistani community.
In his welcome speech, Vice President of ESAM Mr. Temel Karamollaoglu stated that Kashmir was one of the long unresolved issues on the international agenda along with Palestine. Noting the arduous struggle of the people of Kashmir for their fundamental rights, he underscored the importance of a peaceful solution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the United Nations resolutions. Among other things, he also stressed the imperative of an even-handed approach by the UN in facilitating fair solutions of long-standing disputes.  
Ishfaq Bashir, a Kashmiri student studying in Turkey, narrated the hardships of daily life in Kashmir. He said many families were split, with some members living in Azad Jammu & Kashmir, while others in Indian Occupied Kashmir, and were unable to interact easily due to the restrictions imposed by the occupying authorities. He added that Indian claims of being a democratic country were for the outside world; whereas its other face was for the Kashmiris who were subjected to the worst kind of human rights abuses.
Prof. Dr. Oya Akgönenç, a noted academic and former member of Turkish Parliament in her keynote address, spoke in detail about the genesis of the Kashmir dispute. She said the people of free world salute the brave people of Kashmir who had offered immense sacrifices for the cause of freedom. According to Prof. Dr. Oya, resolution of Kashmir dispute was possible through dialogue, which should be facilitated by the United Nations. She concluded that peace and stability in South Asia remained dependent on a just solution of the Kashmir dispute according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
In his wide-ranging address, Chairman of Saadet Party Prof. Dr. Mustafa Kamalak said Turkey would continue to support Pakistan and the people of Kashmir till the final resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. He paid glowing tributes to the valiant people of Kashmir for their immense sacrifices. He urged the international community to pay attention towards resolving Kashmir, Cyprus and Palestine issues where the Muslims had been suffering for decades. He also placed the strongest emphasis on unity of thought and action in the Muslim Ummah.
Appreciating Turkey’s steadfast support, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Turkey Sohail Mahmood said the people of Pakistan stood in complete solidarity with their Kashmiri brethren. For almost seven decades now, these valiant people had waged an epic struggle for the realization of their inalienable right to self-determination -- as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and as envisaged in numerous UN resolutions. All this while, Ambassador Sohail said, gross violations of human rights had been perpetrated by the security forces in the Occupied Kashmir. “Yet, the world has also witnessed, that no amount of brute force has been able to break the will of the Kashmiri people. The lesson from history is that the roar and blaze of guns cannot, and will not, crush the spirit of azadi (freedom) that glows in Kashmiri hearts,” he added.
Ambassador Sohail Mahmood stated that as solemnly reaffirmed by President Mamoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan will continue its moral, diplomatic and political support to the people of Occupied Kashmir till they achieve their inherent right to decide their own future through self-determination.  
Mr. Muhammet Balta, Member of Turkish Parliament and Turkey-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Group, in his speech, said that Turkey would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Pakistan on every issue. He said that as a parliamentarian and member of friendship group, he saw the sufferings of the people of Kashmir as a matter of concern meriting world attention. Referring to Pakistani support on Cyprus issue, Mr. Balta recalled that as a child, he witnessed the all-out support extended to Turkey during the momentous events of 1974. Every Turk considers Pakistan as a true friend and brother, he remarked.
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