Rich tribute paid to Syed Ali Gilani at IRS

Islamabad, September 02 (KMS): The Institute of Regional Studies (IRS), Islamabad, organized a webinar, entitled: “An appraisal: Kashmir’s struggle for self-determination”. The panelists included Dr Farhan Chak, Dr Mujahid Gilani, Altaf Wani and Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai.

Ambassador Nadeem Riyaz, President of IRS, made moving remarks about Syed Ali Gilani. “Today is a sad day, he said, because a great personality who needs no introduction, left us a year ago. Ambassador Riyaz continued that Syed Ali Gilani was a symbol of humanity, kind, compassionate, fearless, visionary, honest, sincere, incorruptible, and much more than that. He never compromised on the basic principle of right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Ambassador Riyaz added that Kashmir has become an open prison where rights of people are trampled with impunity. He said, “Rape is being used as a weapon of war. But the struggle will continue till it reaches its logical conclusion – the fulfillment and implementation of UN Security Council resolutions.”

Ms Humera Iqbal, research analyst at IRS, who specializes in foreign policy issue of South Asia was the emcee. She said in her opening remarks that the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir is non-negotiable. “The ongoing struggle of the people of Kashmir has become symbol of resistance against the inhuman conduct carried out by Indian occupation forces. The struggle will continue till the voices of the people of Kashmir are heard,” Ms Iqbal added.

Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, Chairman of World Forum for Peace and Justice, while highlighting the responsibilities of global Kashmiri diaspora said, “We must be sleeplessly imaginative in devising revulsion of India’s colonization. Those displays can then be taken to the United Nations and to all international fora to seek their moral suasion behind a Kashmiri narrative.” He said, “India’s occupation of Kashmir has been left undisturbed by the international community, even though its validity has never been accepted. At no stage, however, have the people of Kashmir shown themselves as reconciled to it.”

Dr Fai explained that Kashmir’s record of opposition to the rule foisted on it can by no standard be reckoned as less genuinely demonstrated than that of, say, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary (all members of European Union). But while the popular revolt in the countries of Eastern Europe has been observed and reported by the international media, that in Kashmir has remained largely hidden from the world’s view. Even the local journalists, who dare to report the atrocities committed by Indian occupation army on Kashmiri civilian population are arrested under a draconian law – Unlawful Activities (Prevention) act (UAPA). More than dozen Kashmiri journalists have been arrested under UAPA. That is why New York-based, Committee to Protect Journalist has said that the news media in Kashmir has been pushed to the brink of extinction.

“Syed Ali Gilani Sahib was incorruptible. 80 percent Kashmiris respect Gilani Sahib simply because he was not corrupt. Gilani Sahib was an honest and sincere to his people,” Fai quoted Dr. Sameer Kaul, a renowned cardiologist who hails from Kashmir and is a member of minority Pandit community. Gilani Sahib proved prophetic. He predicted during a press conference in Srinagar (Capital of Kashmir), on October 26, 2009 that “a time will come when 500,000 Biharis (Indian) and six to seven hundred thousand army personnel will be given citizenship to change the demography of Kashmir. India will then say OK, let us have a referendum now.” Dr Fai described that enactment of Domicile Law by India was designed to achieve that goal. More than 4.3 million domicile certificates have been issued within the past two years and more than 2.5 million new people have been added in the electoral list. India is literally pushing the nation of Kashmir to the brink of extinction,” Dr Fai warned.

Dr Farhan Chak, internationally known Kashmiri Canadian scholar said that “on this glorious occasion, the people of Kashmir celebrate the life and legacy of Shaheed Syed Ali Gilani. We honor the man who gave us a vision and showed us light where there was only darkness. He was a man that even his enemies knew was incorruptible and uncompromising on the principle of self-determination.”

Dr Chak added that “Today at the institute of regional studies, I shared the platform with icons of Kashmir’s freedom struggle such as Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai and Dr Mujahid Gilani and Altaf Wani. They have sacrificed tremendously for the Kashmir cause, and it was an honor to be with them today as we chart a new path forward and take our revolutionary movement to the next level. We are united and committed to confront the occupation by any means necessary.” Dr Chak prayed to Allah SWT to guide the Kashmiris’ hearts and strengthen their hands as we resist the oppressor.

Dr Mujahid Gilani, President of the Kashmir Youth Alliance, emphasized the role of the Kashmiri women in the Kashmir freedom struggle by stating that the Kashmiri freedom movement could not have gone so far without the support and active participation by the Kashmiri women who have not only been guarding their homes but also have been on the roads asking and demanding freedom from the Indian occupation. “We have seen Kashmiri women in different roles and forms as Kashmiri mothers, elder sisters, as Kashmiri female students who have school bags on one hand and stone in the other. We have also seen Kashmiri women in the form of journalists bagging international awards for projecting the truth and the real picture of the Indian hegemony and barbarism in IIOJK,” he added.

Dr Mujahid Gilani also mentioned the iconic freedom iron lady, Aasiya Andrabi, Naheeda Nasreen and Fehmida Sufi, who were shifted to New Delhi’s Tihar Jail almost five years back and have been kept under strict imprisonment under the NIA laws. He also mentioned different ways and forms of oppression that the Indian occupation has carried out against the Kashmiri women not only in the form of rape but also as cultural imperialism and mental health torture.

Altaf Wani, Chairman of Kashmir Institute of International Relations, spoke on the subject of youth participation in the Kashmir freedom movement. He explained that in the age of youth, when the youth movements have got worldwide attention, the role of youth in socio-economic development and nation building processes has increased at a global level. The Kashmir dispute is one of the serious issues in the world where youth have assumed central importance by providing their best efforts to shape ideology in one way or the other.

“Kashmiri youth today are empowered with new communication technologies that increase the movement’s social and cultural reach. These technologies expand activists’ network within Kashmir as well as linking the movement for self-determination with a global discourse of resistance, ranging from Palestine to Ferguson,” he added.

Altaf Wani elucidated that “Kashmiri youth are well aware that their struggle for self-determination is of little international concern. With rising authoritarianism and right-wing fervour in India, Kashmir is simply not a policy priority. The perceived intractability of the issue continues, but this might create new opportunities for Kashmiris to take ownership of their cause. Kashmir’s initial revolt has come full circle and a new generation is testing new ways of dissent, taking ownership of their narrative, and expanding their solidarity and networks through social media and other mediums. While state surveillance and repression is likely to continue, so is youth resistance.”

Dr Ghulam Nabi Mir, President of World Kashmir Awareness Forum, while reflecting on Syed Ali Gilani, spelled out that few have the grit, far fewer have demonstrated the type of indomitable faith in the destiny of their nation as Syed Ali Gilani. Most people mellow down with age, reconcile with powers that be and make hay while the sun shines. And lastly, most leaders are either predominantly political or predominantly religious. Very few combine the temporal with the spatial or spiritual. Syed Ali Gilani was one sole exception to the rule.

Dr Mir added that Syed Ali Gilani started out as a man of few worldly fortunes and lived frugally all his life. Yet he always looked elegant, sublime, and noble. It always seemed as if he adorned the attire, he donned rather than the attire he donned adoring him. That was the gravitas and that was the power of his personality.

Gilani sahib gave Kashmiris until his final moments of his life everything he had, which was his total commitment to struggle for liberation of Kashmir from Indian shackles of slavery. He started out like many Kashmiris with some degree of ambiguity towards Kashmiri freedom. He then dedicated himself to the liberation politics. And when he did, he never looked back. He became the strongest and most powerful voice of the Kashmiri nation. He was the David, and he did stand against the Goliath of the day, India. His legacy will endure at the peril of Goliath. And yes, India will succumb to the seemingly feeble voices of Kashmiri. A lot of that will be to Syed Ali Gilani’s credit.

Dr Imtiaz Khan, Professor at George Washington University Medical Center at another event in Washington, DC described Syed Ali Gilani as epitome of peace who adopted a pragmatic approach for the freedom struggle of Kashmir. During last 11 years of his life Gilani Sahib was imprisoned in his house and Indian forces did not allow him to venture out and was even denied performing his religious obligations. He was a leader in the league of Nelson Mandela who never complained about the torture inflicted on him and restricted his discourse to the right of self-determination for the people of Kashmir. This was an issue on which Syed Ali Gilani never compromised till his last breath.

Dr Khan added that the late leader had great love for Pakistan and did not demur to express it publicly. However, he unequivocally stated that he will accept the decision of majority and will not impose his decision on anyone. It needs to be mentioned that during 2010 when a lot of Kashmiris were massacred in India, he impressed on his followers that the Hindu tourists in Kashmir should be provided with food, shelter and protection.

Dr Khan mentioned that Syed Ali Gilani was not an individual but an institution. It is very important that university in his name should be formed where students can study and conduct research on various aspect of his personality, he added.

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