Kashmiri Americans demonstrate near the white House to call for freedom & Justice in Kashmir
Washington, DC. Hundreds of Kashmiri Americans and friends of Kashmir staged a huge demonstration in front of the White House. Raising slogans: “Indian Forces: Out of Kashmir”, “No justice: No Peace” , “Freedom for all: Freedom for Kashmir”, “India State of Fear: Not Fair”, demonstrators urged the United States to help persuade India and Pakistan to initiate peace process along with the leadership of the people of Kashmir.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum said that it is clear that resolving Kashmir dispute requires a careful evaluation of its many points of contention and addressing them one by one in a carefully drawn out process in which coming to an agreement on each, sets the stage for moving on to the next. The most basic set of principles must be established and adhered to regarding human rights, the interests of the Kashmiris themselves, and the preservation of vital interests that both India and Pakistan have at stake, and then to proceed with steps toward objectives that result in a win-win solution for all. Fai paid glowing tribute to Afzal Guru and Mohammad Maqbool Bhat. He said that Maqbool Bhat was an iconic and charismatic leader who struggled tirelessly for the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
Bhat’s selfless contribution to the cause of Kashmir will inspire generations to come. Fai quoted Arundhati Roy who wrote in ‘The Daily Guardian’, on 10 February 2013, “now he (Afzal Guru) has been hanged, I hope our (India’s) collective conscience has been satisfied. Or is our cup of blood still only half full?”
Barrister Sultan Mehmood Choudhary, former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir said that the resolution of Kashmir issue could have enabled both Pakistan and India to spend their finite resources more on the development of their people rather than on defense expenditure. He expressed his admiration to the Pakistani and Kashmiri American community for being the ambassadors of peace in the United States for the cause of Kashmir. Given a chance, Kashmiris could be instrumental to encourage peace and stability not only in the subcontinent but in Afghanistan as well. As many experts of international relations now publicly say that the key to peace and stability in Afghanistan lies in Kashmir. Barrister added one cannot deal with the tensions between India and Pakistan without simultaneously addressing the bone of contention of these tensions – that is Kashmir. He said that the United States has a moral responsibility to persuade both India and Pakistan to settle the Kashmir conflict through meaningful dialogue.
Professor Imtiaz Khan, President, Kashmiri American Council said, “People of Kashmir gave a resounding rebuff to Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Kashmir. He was greeted with empty streets and shuttered shops, which was even reported by Indian press. Total closure was observed to convey to him the feelings of people of Kashmir. This clearly showed that people of Kashmir have rejected Indian occupation and expressed unequivocally their desire to take their struggle to its logical conclusion. Khan 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 United States and other countries about Kashmir problem and ongoing atrocities in that region.”
Ali S. Khan, Executive Director, Kashmiri Scandinavian Council said that Kashmir’s painful situation is a rebuke to the world powers for their passivity. The world powers need to know that unless India accepts the realities known to the entire world outside the dispute will fester; and that any solution must satisfy democratic principles, the rule of law, and security for every inhabitant of Kashmir.
Saleem Bukhari of Srinagar said, Hurriyet Conference rejects any settlement within the framework of the Constitution of India but binds it to accept an alternative negotiated settlement among all the three parties – India, Pakistan and Kashmiri leadership - provided it reflects the will and aspirations of the people of the State.
Sardar Imtiaz Khan, New Jersey said were India to allow a referendum in Kashmir, it would prove to the world that it too is a great democratic country, and not the persistent and militaristic oppressor that it has become.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Noori said that we stand should to shoulder with our Kashmiri brethren. He said that defying all odds, the brave desire and aspirations of the Kashmiris for liberty and justice remain strong forever. He said that 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.
Sardar Taj Khan said Kashmiris are a nation with their distinctive culture and civilization. They have sacrificed over a hundred thousand lives for the liberation of their homeland, nobody should even think of ignoring them.
Amna Habib said that the people of Kashmir believe that human rights are cheapened when enforcement is selective. Therefore, they demand an impartial investigation so that culprits are brought to justice. Such an investigation has to be done by a neutral and international agency, like the United Nations.
Tooba Niaz said that the United States must understand that Kashmiris crave only what every American covets: human rights, democratic values, peace and justice, and believe that the United States successes elsewhere could be duplicated in Kashmir with persistence, moral suasion, and statesmanship.
Sardar Zubair Khan said that the Kashmiri people could be instrumental in providing a way out of this cycle of violence and period of uncertainty, only if they can be trusted.
Sardar Zarif Khan said that India has defied United Nations Security Council resolutions for more than 71 years because she knows Kashmiris will never vote in her favor. It is time for Pakistan and India both to get serious about talks.
Iqbal Chand Doddy said we firmly believe that the only way to achieve a peaceful and lasting solution to the Kashmir crisis in through dialogue and negotiations. There can be no solution to the conflict without the participation of the leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
Raja Liaqat Kiyani welcomed the audience for taking trouble to come from distances to attend this important event. Kashmir deserves the attention of the world powers and we will mobilize the public opinion to make it happen.
Sardar Sajid Sawar Khan said Kashmir dispute is about the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The people should be the makers of their destiny and not an alien power – India.
Sardar Zahid Khan said 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.
Imtiaz Malik believed that freedom of expression and transparency to international human rights monitors are the most practicable steps that India might be urged to undertake in Kashmir to deter human rights violations and to develop a culture of restraint within the military forces.
Sardar Zukfiqar Roshan Khan who was the emcee emphasized that Kashmir was the flash point between the two nuclear countries of India and Pakistan which deserves the attention of the world powers. He added that it was our duty to support the people of Kashmir who are struggling for their right to self-determination.
Others who spoke included: Haji Shafi, Raja Mukhtar, Mushtaq Khan, Sardar Younis, Raja Sabir, Aftab Shah, Shafiq Shah, Sikender Sahib, Mrs. Tayyiba, Sardar Zahoor Khan, Kabir Khan, Sardar Zahid Khan, Sardar Asghar Khan, Mahmood Sahib, Hisham Waseem, Tariq Bhatti, Akram Butt and others.
Dr. Fai can be reached at: 1-202-607-6435 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Maqbool Bhat’s Vision Did Not Die With His Death: Dr. Fai
Washington, DC. Kashmiri American community in Washington metropolitan area commemorated the 35th anniversary of the martyrdom of Kashmiri icon Mohammad Maqbool Butt with a renewed commitment to achieve the hero's dream: Kashmiri self-determination as agreed upon both India and Pakistan.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum explained that Maqbool Butt was hanged by India's authorities for protesting their illegal and iron-fisted occupation of Kashmir since 1947. He had previously been tortured and inhumanely imprisoned in the disputed territory of Kashmir. His courage, however, demonstrated such savagery would backfire, and intensify the Kashmiri resistance.
Dr. Fai added since his execution, February 11 has been observed by all Kashmiris as a black day of mourning for the martyr of a brave Kashmiri statesman. 11 February is a somber day but at the same time a day of remembrance and a day to revitalize our resolve to be true to the mission of Martyr Maqbool Bhat. This year, the observance featured seminars, debates, and prayer meetings around the world to advance the Kashmiri cause of freedom and justice.
“Maqbool Bhat's life has inspired countless Kashmiris to persist in the struggle for self‑determination. His vision of a free and fair Kashmiri self‑ determination on its sovereign destiny did not die with his death. He gave his life for the cause because he believed in it with all sincerity and honesty. He gave a lesson to the generations to come that it is very hard but only choice to accept martyrdom instead of slavery. While we must pay rich tributes to the memory of this great martyr, our true tribute will be emancipation of the Kashmiri people from under the Indian brutal occupation and senseless subjugation” Fai emphasized.
Fai however underscored that “Indian authorities could jail Maqbool Bhat and silence him by execution but they could not silence his ultimate desire ‑ the struggle for the people of Kashmir. The spirit of Maqbool Bhat is alive. Today, he is an inspiration to millions of Kashmiris and those striving for human rights and human dignity.”
Sahibzada Imtiaz Zafar, the emcee of the event said Maqbool Butt was undoubtedly, a selfless leader and we, the people of Kashmir miss him dearly. While paying tribute to Shaheed Maqbool Bhat, Imtiaz said that worldly luxuries meant nothing to Maqbool Bhat. He always preferred a day of freedom to a life of luxuries without any freedom.
Ishaq Sharif who knew Maqbool Bhat personally quoted him saying, “We faced every form of torture with the belief that this (new) challenge we are facing will ultimately bring revolution to our thinking.” Ishaq said that Maqbool Butt was certainly a charismatic leader who gave his today for the betterment of tomorrow. His dastardly death will inspire living Kashmiris for the ages.
Dr. Ikhlas Barlas, a well-known community leader urged everybody to take a leaf from the long history of Kashmir which is full of trials and tribulations. Those who contemplate on the past will ultimately come closer to achieve their objective – the freedom for the people of the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
Sardar Zulfiqar Roshan Khan said that the sacrifice of Shaheed Maqbool Bhat will never be wasted. The blood of Kashmiri martyrs brings the goal for freedom and justice nearer.
Sardar Zarif Khan, the main organizer of the event quoted Maqbool Bhat Shaheed saying, “The children of oppressors are provided with all the luxuries and comfort of the world, but the children of resistance leaders are not attracted to these kinds of luxuries and comfort. They get satisfaction from struggling against the system of oppression.”
Sardar Zubair Khan said that the lesson of the martyrdom of Bhat Sahib is that we should be consciously ready to give sacrifices for the cause as was demonstrated by our leader.
Sardar Aftab Roshan Khan said that Maqbool Bhat Shaheed taught us that the partition was not the beginning of an end of sacrifices of our nation but it still continues. Maqbool Bhat has given us an important message that we may have to give more sacrifices till the whole nation is liberated.
At the conclusion of the event, it was demanded that the Government of India return the mortal remains of Shaheed Maqbool Bhat and Shaheed Afzal Guru to their relatives in Kashmir. It has been a sacrilege to have kept it in India for thirty-five and six callous years respectively.
Other speakers included: Sardar Shoaib Irshad; Sardar Kabir Khan; Shakeel Anjum; Sheikh Lateef; Khursheed Shaheen; Mohammad Farooq Khan; Professor Saeed Khan; Hafeez Shah; Sardar Tariq Khan and others.
Dr. Fai can be reached at: 1-202-607-6435 or email@example.com