A leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front (JKPF) has said that because of the indifference of the world powers to the Kashmir issue, it will ultimately be up to India and Pakistan to find a solution that gives the people of the region a voice.

The US organiser of the JKPF based in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, Syed Haider, told IANS in an interview on Thursday that since Kashmir did not have any rich resources like oil, major countries were not interested in helping it.

Therefore, the two nations involved will have to themselves work out a peaceful solution that will lead to a gradual demilitarisation of Kashmir on the two sides of the line of control, building confidence to enable the withdrawal of troops over a few years, he said.

This could be followed by a settlement based on a plebiscite or a way that gives the people of Kashmir a voice, he said.

The first step in this timeline would be the reinstatement of Kashmir’s special status under Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, he added.

Haider was interviewed after he had spoken at a protest organised outside the UN by Khalistan supporters against the withdrawal of Kashmir’s special status.

He said his organisation was totally against the “persecution” and targeting of Kashmiri Pandits in the late 1980s and early 1990s that led to their exodus from the valley.

The Pandit community is special to Kashmir, is gifted, and has made contributions to it, he said.

They are vital to the culture of Kashmir and “there cannot be a Kashmir without them”, he added.

“They contributed to all aspects of Kashmir… Take Kashmir cuisine, for example, the Pandits had 22 ways of making meat dishes that are special to only Kashmir.

“The attacks on them were totally wrong and we (JKPF) opposed it,” Haider said.

The attacks and the exodus of Pandits that ensued have had a negative consequence and may now be used to move other Hindus to Kashmir, he said.

Shahid Comrade, the General Secretary of the Pakistan-USA Freedom Forum, who was at the protest, said in an interview that his group opposed the revocation of the Kashmir’s special status.

Comrade is officially the last name of the man, who wore a red T-shirt with slogans in support of Kashmir’s independence and has been active in labour and other progressive causes in New York City.

Giving a back-handed compliment, he said that he was “surprised that India, which has never had a dictatorship like Pakistan, which has a history of CIA-backed dictatorships, would take such a step on Kashmir”.