IRSHAD SALIM — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has reportedly allowed a delegation of 30 European Union (EU) Members of Parliament (MPs), drawn mainly from extreme right-wing parties, to be the first international delegation to visit India-occupied Kashmir on Tuesday.
In Sen. Mushahidullah Khan’s opinion “it would be better for Kashmiries for their struggle.” Because the visit may expose Indian government’s atrocities against freedom fighters,” he added.
That the visit’s nod has been given to a pack of extreme far-right’ weeks after Delhi imposed a security clampdown on August 5 –to back the ending of the region’s autonomy –may not find takers in the international community (some observers say) which is already miffed by Modi’s controversial 370 move. The Indian PM’s intransigence has been in the international spotlight since then followed with a huge silence (some interpret it as a shock & awe and others look at it as orchestrated) akin to a lull before a storm.
NY-based Humanity Alive 360 Cause Ambassador Agha Saleh who launched ‘Kashmir Seeks Attention’ awareness campaign dubs the visit “engineered’, and therefore any narrative stemming from the trip as inconsequential, of no material-effect, he added.
“It’s important that they meet real people..listen to them..Go to the jails and detention centers. And not on guided cosmetic tours. They should record people’s views. And look into the human tragedy,” said Mr. Khaled Almaeena, a media icon in the Middle East and a thought-leader who was Editor-in-Chief of Arab News for more than a decade.
Mr. Saleh continues to engage community leaders, congressional representatives, senators, etc. while expanding his NY-based campaign within and across the Atlantic.
“That the campaign has been able to draw the attention of two most influential critics of President Trump in 2020 Election runup: Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Cotez” means a lot”, said Saleh. “They have openly condemned human rights abuses in the occupied and locked-down valley”.
The built-up in fringe media including a cascade of Kashmir reports in The New York Times did not go unnoticed on the Hill. This week, the Congress held human rights hearings in which Kashmir situation was also discussed and condemned without mincing words. Congresswoman Cortez was trolled in social media for being tough with questions put to an Indian scribe who kept defending the 370 move.
Collateral moves have not made it to the international media houses– even if they did, there remains a “check and balance” on the ominousness of the situation.
According to Saleh, 12,000 to 15,000 Kashmiri youth (aged 14 and above) have been taken out from Kashmir and dispersed in camps all over India– “concentration camps” said Saleh. “Some Kashmiris (in condition of anonymity) have told me constructions have begun within the silenced valley to bring in settlers for demographic change”.
While the Indian government backs the visit, the European parliament and European Union hierarchy have not been involved, raising some diplomatic doubts, reported AFP.
Several European embassies in New Delhi were unaware of the visit until Monday, the agency reported.
“The delegation of MEPs is not on an official visit in India and came here at the invitation of a non-government group,” said an EU official in India, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We are not organizing any of their meetings.”
“It smells,” said a Pakistani defense official on condition of anonymity. The visit is “arranged and managed”, he added.
Another Pakistani defense official who is based in the Middle East says anti-Muslim sentiment is a commonality between Modi and far-right Europeans.
True, many say. Still Modi’s moves has been upstaged by PM Khan’s Kartarpur Corridor initiative, say the Pakistani official. “It’s one of the rarest master-strokes”.
The group dominated by right-wing deputies from Poland, France and Britain met Indian PM Modi on Monday– a day before the planned trip to occupied Kashmir.
“We have a situation” there, say several observers who are also following 2020 in the US. Will Modi be able to tide over the “situation”? “Modi has stirred the hornet’s nest,” the official said. Lawmakers in the US called it “a disaster“.
But this time it (response) will be through softer prong, the official said.
According to information, a group of Sikh Canadians are traveling by road from Canada to Kartarpur– Pakistan is crossing the Rubicon — from terrorism to religious tourism, is the general consensus.
So, the visit pales out, said one Kashmir observer. Dawn recently summarized the 370 move: “much of the world still considers Kashmir a disputed territory, exposing India’s fiction that the troubles in IHK are an ‘internal matter”.
Tooba Ghaffar, a young student of strategic studies and international relations says, “Modi and the far-right delegation members have one thing in common. They all are inspired by Fascist ideology. Thus their viewpoints will not have any credibility. An independent UN or bipartisan delegation should be followed up with”.