Holy Cause, Holy Blessings

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

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Azerbaijan-Armenia “Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” is a time bomb which has to be defused as soon as possible for the greater regional peace and harmony. It is a gigantic human misery where Azeri people, the real owner of the land were dispossessed from the lands, homes and collaterals by using brutal force. It is the unsettled dispute in the region. It is indeed a flash point in the CIS and Caucasus regions.

Pope Francis the icon of love, compassion and angle of peace just completed his visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan and stressed the need to resolve the “Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” with the help of international community as soon as possible. During his visit to Azerbaijan he met with H.E. President Ilham Aliyev and other high officials of the government and pledged his support to resolve the said unresolved issue as soon as possible. He also met with so many social organizations and diplomatic corps to discuss the said issue of great importance for Azerbaijan. He expressed his gratitude to those who have had to leave their land and confronted human miseries. Pope Francis said hoped that the international community is able “to offer unfailingly its indispensable help” to resolve the conflict. He invited everyone to play a positive role to achieve a stable and peaceful region.

“I am confident that, with the help of God, and the good will of those involved, the Caucasus will be a place where, through dialogue and negotiation, disputes and differences will be resolved and overcome,” Pope Francis said.

He hoped that Azerbaijan the “gateway between East and West” will also be a gateway open to the peace and resolve.

Pope Francis regretted that the world is experiencing the tragedy of many conflicts fueled by intolerance, which, in turn, are provoked by violent ideologies and actual denial of the rights of the weakest. Azerbaijan is the prime example of tolerance in the world where everybody is free to perform its religious rituals. Azerbaijan is the ideal country for minorities in which their basic rights are protected.

Pope stressed the need to effectively oppose dangerous deviations by promoting the culture of peace by pursing untiring willingness for dialogue/conflict resolution. He voiced for a shared solution by means of committed and sustained negotiations. He outlined the path of genuine progress and freedom of people by securing and promoting harmony between different sectors within the country as well as between states. It is the only doable way to safe people from grave suffering and painful wounds, Pope Francis added.

Chairman of the Caucasian Muslims Office (CMO) Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade welcomed the statement of the Pope about the necessity of settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict peacefully.

He said “The Azerbaijani people, state and its leader invariably want a just solution of the conflict peacefully, within the norms of international law”. Sheikh ul-Islam hoped that the Pope will assist to a fair solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

H.E. President Ilham Aliyev termed Pope Francis’s visit to Azerbaijan a historic event. He rightly projected Azerbaijan a modern secular, developing country open for cooperation”. “Azerbaijan is a native land of all peoples living in our country. Azerbaijan stands strong he added. While meeting with Pope Francis said “We enjoy great respect on the international arena. Several years ago, 155 countries voted for Azerbaijan and chose it a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council”.

“You sent a clear message of multiculturalism, interreligious dialogue, good will and good attitude of Baku which should gain victory and prevail,” President Aliyev said to Pope Francis.

“Today, your followers, your supporters on all continents look at Baku, become familiar with our city and our country. They see that there is a modern, secular and developing country in the world, in the Muslim world,” said the president. “They see that the head of the world’s Catholics Francis is in Baku. Therefore, I would like to express gratitude to you on behalf of the whole Azerbaijani people. I wish you robust health and new success.”

The conflict between the Azerbaijan and Armenia surfaced in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts in 1992. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations which are still going on nowhere.

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Today, Armenia still controls fifth part of Azerbaijan’s territory and rejects implementing four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts. Now the continued occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenian armed forces is a threat to peace and stability in the South Caucasus, as well as a source of destabilization for the region in the future.

The Khojaly massacre was one of the most heinous and bloodiest events of the 20th century. It is still a black spot on the collective human conscious of the region and the globe as well. It was an act of barbarism and discrimination. The town of Khojaly came under intensive fire from the town of Khankendi and Askeran already occupied by Armenian armed forces February 25, 1992. According to an official report, 613 civilians were killed, including 106 women, 70 elderly and 83 children, and a total of 1,000 civilians were disabled. Moreover, 1,275 innocent people were taken hostage.

Khojaly assault by Armenian armed forces was predetermined by strategic location of the city. The city with population of 7000 people is situated 10 kilometers to South-East from Khankendi. Khojaly is situated on the way Aghdam-Shusha, Askeran-Khankendi and has an airport, the only in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Concluding Remarks
“Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” is an integral part of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is pursuing all peaceful means to reach a resolution for a sustained peaceful region. Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict is anti-development and anti-human which must be resolved as soon as possible. An early resolution of this conflict would bring multiplier socio-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic effects for both the countries.

Early resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a holy cause and recently concluded visit of Pope Francis’s brought holy support. Pope highlighted Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and emphasized a peaceful outcome. He preferred a shared solution through meaningful negotiations and dialogue to resolve the unsettled conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh. He stressed international community to come forward to resolve the issue and let people live peacefully and harmoniously.

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