[By: Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai]
Washington, August 25 (KMS): First of all, let me express deep appreciation to the Pakistan Business Forum, Azad Kashmir for inviting the leadership of Kashmiri Diaspora of Washington metropolitan area to speak on the subject, “Kashmir Dispute & the Role of Diaspora.” Lot has happened on the corridors of power in Washington, DC and it would not have been possible without the deep involvement, selfless efforts, and constant struggle of your guests: Sardar Zulfiqar Khan, Sardar Zarif Khan, Sardar Zubair Khan and Irfan Tasaduq Sahib. These brothers may belong to different political parties of Azad Kashmir but in Washington they represent no one except the oppressed people of Jammu & Kashmir. The nation of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir remains thankful for the sincerity and understanding of diaspora of Azad Kashmir origin, be they in America, Europe, Middle East, or elsewhere.
It is a fact 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. Indian colonialist rulers have put their machinery in motion which is fast moving to accelerate the process of genocide they have systematically put in place through their proxies since October 27, 1947.
It will be grossly unfair to forget that, over the years, All Parties Hurriyat Conference has shown formidable leadership in representing the people of Kashmir. Now, Syed Ali Geelani, the most towering personality is no more. Yasin Malik is facing a situation of life and death. Shabbir Ahmad Shah has been incarcerated for more than half of his life. Masarrat Aalam Butt has been booked 37 times under black law Public Safety Act. Aasiya Andrabi has been charged under draconian UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act). Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has been under house arrest for the last three years. They all, however, remain undeterred and clear in their thought processes that people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir have only one option which is total freedom from the colonial clutches of India.
And the people of Indian occupied Kashmir, despite all the odds, have never lost hope in the right of self-determination. The Kashmiri diaspora does not need to remind them that. The Kashmiri diaspora needs to simply take the reins, open the doors, pave the road, and take advantage of those opportunities that become available to express that will. The role of our global Kashmiri diaspora becomes much more pertinent and important after the developments since August 5, 2019, and because of the changes occurring at the global level. Kashmiri diaspora knows it well that a coordinated effort on every level to counter India’s disinformation campaign should be the top priority.
Kashmiri diaspora understands that multiplicity of Kashmiri organization in any important world capitol are not only unnecessary but counterproductive to Kashmir’s right to self-determination. It’s time, for all the flowers to be a bouquet of flowers. It’s time that the diaspora gives all that flows from its heart, because it is only then that the people will respond with theirs and demonstrate the power of their love for their country, Kashmir – that was once the paradise on earth.
It’s imperative at this stage in our history for the Kashmiri diaspora to recognize that real change is needed and cannot happen without a change in the way that we do business. Foremost, what is needed is a united front that will inspire the people as well. A united front will demonstrate that we are Kashmiris first and foremost, and not simply members of some political party or social group. Only a united people can bring about the change that will help us achieve our ultimate objective – the right of self-determination.
The leadership of all political parties in Azad Kashmir have exhibited strong sensitivity to the issue of IIOJK (Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir) and have paid strong tributes to the sacrifices made by the leaders like late Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik. However, the abominable plan of Indian government to change the demographic character of Kashmir needs very serious strategic planning by Azad Kashmir leadership to counter these evil designs.
Finally, let us also briefly present to you some of the activities that Kashmiri diaspora have initiated since August 5, 2019, when India abrogated Article 370 and 35A. Kashmiri diaspora is conscious of the strength and extent of the Indian lobby in the US. Despite significant odds, we were able to do the following activities since August 5, 2019.
World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF) has been doing all its activities in collaboration with Kashmir America Welfare Association (KAWA). The guest speakers of today are the members of the board of KAWA.
Kashmiri diaspora is fully engaged in Washington as well as in New York to advocate for the political and human rights of the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
On social media front, we use the digital trucks, billboards, both in Washington as well as in New York.
Since August 5, 2019, we organized 5 rallies in front of the White House; 4 at Indian Embassy, Washington, DC; 6 at the United Nations; 4 at Indian Mission in New York; 6 at Indian Consulate in New York.
Narendra Modi will be speaking at the United Nations on September 24, 2022. A plan of action has been prepared for a peaceful rally in front of the United Nations during his speech. It is important because Narendra Modi will not tell the United Nations that Kashmir is on the brink of genocide as mentioned by Genocide Watch; and that Kashmir is the World’s Most Beautiful Prison as suggested by John Cushnahan, former MEP (Member of European Parliament); and that Kashmir is the most militarized place on the earth as cited by Arundhati Roy.
We aspire for Pakistan to immediately create a Kashmir Cell comprising retired and sitting diplomats, with expertise on India. This cell should also include members from all the political parties of Pakistan, as well as representatives from the civil society and Kashmiri diaspora.
We also aspire for Pakistan to work on sustaining the momentum on engaging major powers to pressurize India not only to lift the on-going repressive measures, including crippling restrictions and communication blockade, but more importantly to eventually engage with the Kashmiri leadership and Pakistan, and workout a negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
Pakistan’s current domestic politics is very worrisome for a common Kashmiri. They see their success only in a strong and viable Pakistan. The Pakistan government should create a constructive atmosphere where the top leadership of various political parties can be seen visibly and manifestly on the same page with regards to Kashmir issue. Any weakness in this area plays into the hands of India’s rabidly nationalist media.
(Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai is Chairman of Washington-based World Forum for Peace & Justice. He can be reached at: WhatsApp: 1-202-607-6435 or email@example.com)