National Defense University (NDU), Islamabad.
A Seminar on the 24th anniversary of Khojaly Genocide: perspective of “Nagorno-Karabakh and Kashmir Disputes” was organized by the department of International Relations, National Defense University along with the Embassy of Azerbaijan at the National Security Hall in the premises of the National Defence University. The session was chaired by Ms. Amb. Fauzia Nasreen who is affiliated with the Department of Centre for Policy Studies at COMSATS and the Institute of Information and Technology Islamabad. The panelists included Dr. Nazir Hussain, professor of Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, Mr. Irfan ullah Khan, Director ECO and CARs, Foreign Office of Pakistan, Dr. Muhammad Khan, the Head of department of International Relations at the National Defense University, Ms. Asiya Mahar, a Research Scholar in IPRI and lastly, Mr. Chingiz Garibli, the acting ambassador of Azerbaijan in Pakistan.
The session commenced with the recitation of the holy Quran followed by the welcoming remarks by Dr. Muhammad Khan who briefly introduced the brotherly relationship between Pakistan and Azerbaijan and strongly condemned the Khojaly Genocide which was carried out at the hands of the Armenian Army. His remarks were followed by the screening of a video that portrayed the atrocities carried out by the Armenian army in Nagorno-Karabagh of Azerbaijan which left the audience speechless.
Amb. Fauzia Nasreen, the chair of the session formally opened the discussion on the aforementioned topic by stating that it is important to look at the massive human rights violations that were carried out on the night of 25th February and that she looked forward to an extremely useful presentation and an interactive session. She also commented on the video, saying that the pin drop silence, observed during the screening of the video, portrayed the pain that each member of the audience felt while watching the horrendous episode of human brutality.
The first speaker of the session, Dr. Nazir Hussain highlighted the importance of the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Azerbaijan. He condemned the occurrence of such events in the 21st century with all the technological advancements and added responsibility for human life. He thanked Mr. Muhammad Khan for selecting a topic that was aside from the traditional topics discussed in such forums. Dr. Nazir stressed on the fact that in order to have good relations with other countries it is necessary to have a commonality of interests. He then talked about Pakistan’s entry into Central Asia which he deemed as one of the success of Pakistan’s foreign office and was based upon the solidarity of the Muslim Ummah connected through a similarity of culture, religion, tradition and the famous Silk route that linked Minor Asia with the Indian subcontinent along with the potential benefits for the region. He further described Azerbaijan’s support for Pakistan’s case on Kashmir and Pakistan’s stance of not developing any relations with Armenia and the recognition of the genocide. He also delineated Azerbaijan’s relief efforts with the support that it rendered to Pakistan in the event of 2005 earthquake and the floods of 2011 and also the establishment of a school in Muzaffarabad. Lastly, the speaker stressed upon the need for the development of direct flights between the countries to establish individual to individual contact and to work beyond the paradigms of military and politics.
The next speaker, Mr. Irfan Ullah Khan talked about the importance of energy based projects like TAPI gas pipeline project which was inaugurated on 12th December 2015 and which might point towards the possibility of the availability of LNG in Baluchistan and the importance of CASA-1000. He then shared a number of facts with the audience regarding the area, population, current officials, the importance of the geographical location and a number of visits by the Pakistani high officials to Azerbaijan and vice versa. He further explained the motives of Pakistan’s support for Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Azerbaijan’s support for Pakistan on Kashmir dispute, and the cooperation between the two countries on the economic, military and political fronts concluding with the importance of Pakistan-Azerbaijan Joint Ministerial Commission that run under the department of finance in collaboration with the foreign office.
The next speaker was Dr. Muhammad Khan who spoke about the Khojaly genocide and the human rights violations that took place during the massacres. He recounted the horrible tails of human suffering, with particular reference to the mutilation of corpses and other scenes that were witnessed during the event. He specifically talked about the number of people who were murdered (613) with further reference to the number of children, elderly and the people who were displaced. He then juxtaposed the figures with the acts of shoot to kill, torture, custodial killings, arson and looting and incidences of rape and molestation. From 1990-2015 the total deaths in Kashmir amassed to 113,000. Lastly he drew parallels between the tragedy of Kashmir and Khojaly broadly referring to the violations of human rights and international law, the insensitivity of the international community, the silence of the global media and the major powers, the non-implementation of the UN resolution and the continuation of violence and massacre of the effected areas.
The second last speaker of the event Ms Asiya Mahar commented on the insignificant percentage of trade that goes on between the states of Pakistan and Azerbaijan and forecasted that through the active development of economic relations, both countries hope to achieve over ten years trade turnover of US$10 billi0n per year. She also emphasized upon new measures of cooperation between the two with president Mr. Aliyev’’s orders to build a station to generate 1000MW of electricity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), the commencement of direct flights by the Turkish airlines between the two capitals and the introduction of a new procedure of tourist e-visa system by the Azerbaijani government in 2013. Furthermore, She commented on the efforts of the first lady of Azerbaijan, Ms. Mehriban Aliyeva, president of Heydar Aliyev Foundation” in Pakistan and is known for its work there. She further delineated the strategic importance of the two countries focusing upon the challenges to cooperation and further suggestions that could remove such impediments.
Lastly, Mr Chingiz Garibli thanked the department for highlighting the importance of commemorating Khojaly Genocide and for arranging a meaningful seminar. He traced the political and diplomatic relations and external challenges faced by both Pakistan and Azerbaijan and ended his address in a lot of optimism, hoping that in the near future more chances of collaboration would emerge.
Once the Panelists were done, the floor was opened for a question answer session where the energetic audience asked a number of pertinent questions like the future prospects of cooperation and the similarities between the aggressors in the case of both Kashmir and Nagorno Karabakh.
Towards the end of the session, the chair summed up the important aspects of the meaningful discussion that took place earlier and hoped for an optimistic future.