Masood Khan addresses International Congress on Islamic, Culture and Heritage of Kashmir

Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has said that Islam is a religion of peace; it shuns violence and rejects any form of terrorism. Islam, he said, is a religion for all of humanity and not just for Muslims.
The President made these comments while addressing the inaugural session of the two-day International Congress on Islamic, Culture and Heritage of Kashmir held here in Islamabad.
The Event organised by the National History and Literary Heritage Division of the Government of Pakistan was also addressed by Dr. Arif Alvi, Honorable President of Pakistan; Shafqat Mahmood Federal Minister for National History and Literary Heritage; Prof. Dr. Halit Eren, Director General, International Research Centre for History, Art and Culture (IRCICA); and Federal Secretary for National History and Literary Heritage Division, Engr. Aamir Hasan.
Speaking on the occasion, the President thanked the National History and Literary Heritage Division for organizing this conference at such an appropriate occasion, adding that this conference will help us shine a light on the true face and message of Islam, expose stereotypes, Islamophobia and the disinformation being promoted and help enlightened understanding of our history, culture and heritage.
The President said that Islam arrived in Jammu and Kashmir not through conquests but by words and deeds of mystics and saints, like Bulbul Shah and Shah Hamdan, whose piety and spartan lifestyles impressed the local population of Kashmir to convert to Islam. Right from the beginning, he said, the spread of Islam was peaceful, immersed in mystic tradition, and led by the Sufis and saints which were known for their righteousness, spirituality and care for humanity irrespective of race, creed or colour or caste.
As a result of the rich heritage and architecture brought into Kashmir, especially by the Persian Sufi Shah Hamdan, Kashmir to this day unique a distinct architecture of and also leaving behind a legacy of matchless and unique arts, crafts and industries, including carpet, shawl and textile weaving, paper-mache, wood carving, calligraphy, embroidery and other trades that survive up to this day.
The President apprised the audience of the efforts being made by the AJK Government to help preserve the local architecture, culture and heritage. The AJK Archaeology Department, he said, has already organised many conferences and symposiums on the archaeological and historical heritage of Azad Kashmir and the University of AJK Muzaffarabad is also planning to establish a Shah Hamdan Chair. He said that Azad Kashmir, boasts very unique archaeological and historical sites including ancient sited like Sharda University, Bagsar Fort, Mangla Fort, Mughal Mosque, Ramkot, Red Fort of Muzaffarabad and also famous Sufi shrines like Pir Chinasi, Khari Sharif, Darbar Baba Shadi Shaheed, Haji Pir and Sain Saheli Sarkar.
President AJK welcomed the message of Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen Secretary General of the OIC – read out by Ambassador Ahmad Sareer, Advisor to the OIC Secretary General – in which he recognized the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris and their right to self-determination. President AJK said that the people of Kashmir to this day are suffering unimaginable torture and are being hounded mercilessly by the Indian occupation forces. He called for concerted efforts to initiate a Commission of Inquiry as proposed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and also called for a ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanction’ movement against India for its blatant violations of human rights in IOK as recommended by the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission.
President Masood in his ending remarks reiterated that Kashmir and Pakistan are inseparable and Kashmir and the rest of the Islamic world are also inseparable. He invited IRCICA and the National History and Literary Heritage Division to organize a similar event in Muzaffarabad in the near future.
Dr. Arif Alvi, President Pakistan acknowledged the efforts of the National History and Literary Heritage and said that it’s our collective responsibility to preserve our common culture and heritage and ensure they are protected from environmental effects, theft and neglect.
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