Press Release : Peace Inevitable for Prosperity in Kashmir


Islamabad – The Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR) celebrated completion of five-years of women empowerment initiatives in Islamabad, this Friday (22 December 2017) at the Islamabad Club. Honorable Speaker of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly Shah Ghulam Qadir presided the event. A groundbreaking research study titled ‘Voices Unheard – Stories Untold - The Plight of Women in Neelum Valley’ was also launched at the occasion.

Speaking to a packed house comprising women elected representatives, social and political activists, academics and youth leaders from AJK; Shah Ghulam Qadir highlighted the need for urgent measures to bring peace and stability, particularly in areas near the Line of Control (LoC). He said that it is difficult to complete infrastructure and development schemes due to continuous firing and shelling from Indian security forces in Neelum. Communities particularly women, children and the elderly are paying a heavy price of this cruel behavior from the other side of the border. He said that despite challenges, we have completed several development schemes and committed to provide all necessities of life to local communities.

Sardar Amjad Yusuf Khan (Executive Director KIIR) welcomed the participants and shared history of the organization. He announced that 2018 would be celebrated as ‘Silver Jubilee Year’ of KIIR as the organization reaches another milestone of serving people in AJK.

Later on during panel discussions, speakers raised concerns about overall situation of social, political and economic rights for women in the society.

Ms Nasima Wani (MLA) in her speech said that women have unequal access to resources and participation in decision-making process, which is adding to their marginalization. Former Speaker of the assembly Ms Shaheen Kausar Dar said that democracy in AJK was not possible without women’s participation. She appreciated the role of KIIR in promoting women’s rights and developing new cadre of young women leaders. Another former deputy speaker of AJK assembly Ms Mehrunnissa said that research is needed to better understand issues of women living in difficult to reach locations. Ershad Mahmud (Director, Center for Peace, Development and Reforms) signified the importance of participatory platforms to create more space for women.

Earlier, Atia Atia Anwer Zoon (Director Women’s Wing KIIR) presented findings of a study conducted by KIIR in two Tehsils (Athmaqam and Sharda) of the Neelum valley. The research is focused on challenges that women face in day-to-day life and affects of conflict on them. Explaining their plight with the help of graphs and pictures from the field, she said that majority of young women (20-45 years age) living around Line of Control (LoC) is under stress and going through psychological challenges. According to the research, 80% respondents identified firing and shelling from Indian security forces as their biggest fear. Displacements from firing are adding difficulties of security, shelter, food, water, livelihoods, education, health and mobility.

Others who also spoke at the celebration included; Najma Shakoor (Founder, Women Welfare Organization of Poonch), Nasima Jogezai President WWOP), Nayyar Malik (President AJK Women for Peace), Farhat Asif(President Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies), Tahira Tauqeer (President JKLF Women Wing), Areeba Khan (Research Associate, Institute of Strategic Studies), Sumera Qureshi (President Crisis Management Organisation Muzaffarabad), Hafsa Masoodi (Writer, Lecturer), Bazal Muzaffar Khan (student, Islamia College Rawlakot), Aqdas Saeed (student, post graduate college, Rawlakot), Nazia Nazir Khan, and Mahnoor Bashir (student, University of AJK, Muzaffarabad).

It is important to mention that KIIR received felicitation messages from women peace activists around the world for this celebration. Those who sent their good wishes via recorded video messages to KIIR include; Dr Anna Barchetti Durisch (Chairperson, Helolife Switzerland), Laila Ulao (Philippines, award winning actress for her movie “Women of the Weeping River”), Shivangi Kant Sudhan (Lawyer from Jammu and Kashmir), Ezabir Ali (Women’s Rights Activist Srinagar), Reem Kelani (Palestinian Singer and Activist based in London), Hana El Gallal (Researcher/Advisor at University of Jordan Bengazi, Libya), Alice Salesbury (Conciliation Resources –London), Karen Teodoro (Zamboanga City, Philippines), Zenub Babar Butt (Kashmiri entrepreneur Based in Karachi), Daniala Dongues (Scales for Justice, a French Rights Activist), Dayang Karna Bahidjan (Philippines).

At the end of this event, Altaf Wani (Director Programs KIIR) delivered the vote of thanks. A picture gallery was also arranged at the venue displaying various activities of the organization for women empowerment.


Posted on Dec 26, 17 | 3:10 am