DESPARDES — Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint as many observers say and it stands on the verge of a war between the nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan who have already fought four wars on the Muslim-majority disputed territory.
This week, an International Kashmir Virtual conference, titled, “Kashmir’s Double Lockdown and the Global Response” was held in Birmingham, UK, where a huge populace of the Kashmiri Diaspora live for decades.
It was organized by Tehreek-e-Kashmir, UK, and attended among others by academicians, researchers, social and civil rights activists. Attendees also included media personnel from Turkey, India, Pakistan, Azad Kashmir, United States, Canada, Middle East and several cities of Europe where there’s also a significant presence of Kashmiris.
Speaking to the virtual conference, Pakistani Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who is also Chairman of the country’s Foreign Relations Committee said that Kashmir stands on the verge of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. According to him, he just resolution of the Kashmir conflict will bring peace and prosperity to the region of South Asia.
His candid observation dovetails the Bajwa doctrine: “enduring stability in the region”.
Recalling that the issue of Kashmir is a movement for self-determination inspired by a spirit for freedom and has its legitimacy in the United Nations Security Council resolutions, the Senator pointed out that the struggle remains alive and vibrant because the people of Kashmir want to chart their own destiny. “It is a pure people’s movement inspired from within which aims at regaining the freedom and economic justice that the foreign occupation has usurped,” the Senator said.
“It is vital for the world powers not to lose sight of the true objective in determining peace in South Asia, he added. “The settlement of the Kashmir conflict is central to the purpose of stability and security in the region”.
The Senator suggested the increasingly negative image of the Modi administration as extremist, sectarian, fascist, and communal should be highlighted at global level.
Fahim Kayani, the host and President of UK-based Tehreek-e-Kashmir said the webinar provides a platform to analyze the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir and suggest ways to resolve one of the longest-standing issues of the United Nations. Fahim added that the Kashmir dispute has resulted in heavy death and destruction in Kashmir simply because the Indian army was given immunity under draconian laws, like the “Public Safety Act” (PSA).
“Soldiers kill civilians with impunity. Indeed, Indian law grants virtual legal immunity to any type of war crime or crime against humanity perpetrated in Kashmir. The people of Kashmir have suffered long and needlessly because of this brutal conflict. They demand and they deserve peace,” Fahim reiterated.
Independent observers say there has been increasing violence in the Muslim-majority Valley and against Muslims in India. The Delhi riot in February — 50 Muslims lost their lives — put the growing polarity on PM Modi’s watch on the world map.
For the first time since 2004, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its annual report released last month said it is recommending that India be included in U.S. State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern”.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: Dr. Ghulam Nabi Mir, President, World Kashmir Awareness Forum said, Covid-19 has struck with fury. It has devastated all communities, particularly the vulnerable members of the society without distinction of caste, class, or country. In the case of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, it has had a particularly devastating physical, psychological, and economic impact on our people.
Dr. Mir explained that Occupied Kashmir is the most militarized state in the world—800,000 man Military and Paramilitary forces. And on top of it the Modi Govt brought around August 5, 2019, surreptitiously rushed in his 250,000 Hindutva militias. These voluntary Hindu radicals of RSS belong to Modi’s mother militant organization the RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh). Modi joined it as a young man and rose through the ranks. They are his bosom buddies.
An ongoing step by step genocide is in progress. You can call it ethnic cleansing or you can call it demographic engineering to make Kashmir a Hindu state. Call it whatever you will. But, the inescapable conclusion has to be that with Covid-19 cover Kashmir is one step closer to the last phase of genocide. Indians did it to Native Dravidians, the Buddhists and they are doing it to Indian Muslims. They sure can do it to Kashmiris.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary-general, World Kashmir Awareness Forum said that the situation in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir has dramatically changed, particularly since August 5, 2019, and it will not be an exaggeration to say that the people of occupied land are facing an existential threat. We have come to a juncture in the history of our freedom struggle where we all have to decide once and for all as to what role we can play in this difficult but a noble endeavor.
Fai suggested that extensive use of social media, especially webinars, videos, will become instrumental in highlighting the struggle of people of Kashmir. And an effective outreach campaign on Kashmir dispute towards the peace-loving sections of the world community, including Indian civil society and diaspora is the need of the time.
India may be ‘the largest democracy’ but its policy towards Kashmir has been uniformly brutal and deceitful. The impartial and neutral agencies of the world testify that when it comes to Kashmir, India is nothing but an occupier. Huffington Post wrote on August 5, 2019. ‘As Kashmir Is Erased, Indian Democracy Dies In Silence.’
“The United Nations has the opportunity to affect a positive resolution to the conflict and resulting humanitarian situation by promoting the conditions of the original mandate. It is only through international recognition and inclusive representations that a genuine and lasting peace can ensue. The risks of maintaining the status quo – for Kashmir, South Asia and the world – are too great to ignore,” Fai added.
Abdul Rashid Turabi, Member, Azad Kashmir Assembly said, the self-determination of the people of Kashmir and international peace and security are inter-related. The denial of this right has brought both nuclear countries of India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear catastrophe. It is in the interest of world peace that India and Pakistan need to resolve the Kashmir dispute to the satisfaction of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Turabi cited the example of the widespread human rights violations by the Indian military and para-military forces in the disputed territory of Jammu & Kashmir. He reiterated that since, 1990, the Indian forces have been engaged in a sustained campaign of slaughter, rape, arson and destruction. This state terrorism has resulted in more than 100,000 deaths.
Ms. Julie Ward, a British parliamentarian said that people of Kashmir deserve to be granted the right of self-determination. She said that she was convinced that the people of Jammu and Kashmir constitute the principal stakeholders and should be an integral component of any future peace process along with India and Pakistan. She suggested that the labor party head cannot change the party policy on Kashmir. Our policy has to be that world powers must intervene and bring peace to the region of South Asia and help resolve the conflict over Kashmir which is pending for the last 72 years.
Mr. Sikandar Siddique, Member of the Danish Parliament said, the knowledge of the average European regarding Kashmir is insignificant. The sentiments and aspirations of the people of Kashmir are overshadowed by the commercial interests and business deals of the world powers. We must educate the European populations and must do that in their own languages.
The community of nations must seize this opportunity to promote an initiative towards bringing about conditions necessary for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute., Mr. Siddique added.
Mr. Mejbel Alshrika, Director, The Center for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law at Kuwait Bar Association said that nothing better can be said about human rights in Kashmir. Every human rights group that has examined the convulsed scene in Kashmir has reported harrowing human rights violations. The vandalism is used to terrorize Kashmiris. Mobs of soldiers routinely go through neighborhoods breaking windows with large stones, upending autos and motorcycles, setting fire to trucks, and anything else left vulnerable to their attack. Occasionally they will shoot at the people inside, and many have been killed or injured with buckshot right in their own homes. Children and housewives have frequently been victims.
Mr. Alshrika emphasized that it is the people of Kashmir who suffer. Their calls for self-determination have been brutally suppressed by the Indian armed forces. These troops have unleashed a reign of terror on the civilian population.
He said the main priority of everyone should be to attract attention to the issue and to put India in a position where it has to heed to popular will. We will have to expose the terror unleashed by RSS against the Muslims of India and the people of Kashmir.
Ms. Dalal Al-Ajmi, Lawyer and Member of Human Rights Committee at Kuwait Bar Association said it was our duty to support the people of Kashmir who are struggling for their right to self-determination. Our objective is to draw the attention of the world powers to the situation in Kashmir and to exert pressure on the government of India and to resolve the dispute over Kashmir and help stop human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir.
She expressed her unconditional moral support to the people of Kashmir for a just and peaceful solution to the long-standing dispute. She said that we stand shoulder to shoulder with our Kashmiri brethren. Shee said that defying all odds, the brave desire and aspirations of the Kashmiris for liberty and justice remain strong forever.
She emphasized that the Indian army is responsible for many untold atrocities but one thing is quite clear that she could not break the will of the people for their right of self-determination.
She also emphasized that Kashmiris are giving huge sacrifices for attaining freedom and it is the obligation of the diaspora and all other people who share their sentiments to educate the masses in the world and other countries about Kashmir problem and ongoing atrocities in that region.
India is using Covid 19 to reoccupy Kashmir. Narendra Modi should know that his actions in Kashmir cannot stand, she declared.
Nazir Qureishi, Senior Vice President, World Kashmir Freedom Movement, London said, what is happening in Kashmir is not abnormalities and weaknesses of the local government but an institutionalized and well-planned policy of the BJP Government.
“The lack of unity among the different advocacy groups is an impediment. The demand of the day is a ‘Grand Unity’ among Kashmiri diaspora. This does not necessarily mean unity as there would always be different shades of opinion but we should have clarity of our ideas, i.e., that the people of Kashmir want the right to self-determination,” Mr. Qureishi reiterated.
Anser Manzoor Hussain, President, Tehreek-e-Kashmir, Denmark said, “Kashmir continues to bleed. We see the horrendous brutality, unstopped and unpunished barbarities unleashed against the defenseless population.
The only way for this carnage to end is for the world powers to bring pressure to bear on the Indian Government to cease its human rights abuses and seek a peaceful negotiated settlement to the crisis. The world powers should work to bring all parties to the dispute to the peace table to end the abuses and effect a genuine and lasting peace.
Anser warned that the overwhelming presence of 800,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces serves as a constant reminder to Kashmiris that they are a people subjugated and enslaved against their will. Every person has one or more tales of weeping and sobbing to recount. And their pain is compounded by the silence and indifference of the international community, especially from the United States, that beacon of human rights and civil liberties.
Mr. Hussain suggested to initiate a global campaign to boycott the Indian good.
Yahya Akhter, community activist and the emcee of the webinar said the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNHCHR) has issued its “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir.” The report contains graphic documentation of human rights violations being committed by the Indian military and paramilitary forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir. This is a significant step towards greater international recognition of the serious abuses committed against Kashmiris at the hands of Indian army. This report takes the veil of secrecy off of India’s crimes against humanity. Perhaps now the global community can share the outrage felt by the people of Kashmir.