Kashmiri Americans Held Peaceful Demonstration in Front of the White House
Washington. November 24, 2009. While President Obama met with Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, hundreds of Kashmiri Americans held A peaceful demonstration in front of the White House to convey to the US Administration to persuade India to initiate a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan and the legitimate Kashmiri leadership to resolve the 62-year unresolved issue of Kashmir.
The demonstration was highly impressive and reverberating with the slogans of “Azadi,” (Freedom). The participants were carrying placards demanding “Self-determination”, “President Obama Appoint Special Envoy of Kashmir”, “India Honor UN Pledges”, and “Stop Killings in Kashmir”. The participants also raised slogans having one singular theme that India allows the people of Kashmir to choose their own political destiny.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director, Kashmiri American Council/Kashmir Center said that there are certain characteristics of the situation in Kashmir, which distinguish it from all other deplorable human rights situations around the world. It prevails in what is recognized - under international law and by the United States - as a disputed territory. According to the international agreements between India and Pakistan, negotiated by the United Nations and endorsed by the Security Council, the territory's status is to be determined by the free vote of its people under UN supervision.
Dr. Fai reminded that the Kashmir situation represents a Government's repression not of a secessionist or separatist movement but of an uprising against foreign occupation, an occupation that was expected to end under determinations made by the United Nations. The Kashmiris are not and cannot be called separatists, as Dr. Manmohan Singh alleges because they cannot secede from a country like India to which they have never acceded to in the first place.
Dr. Fai warned that the mantra has been repeated too often that the US has no alternative to relying on bilateral talks between India and Pakistan to achieve a settlement. The experience of more than sixty-two years is ignored. No bilateral talks between India and Pakistan have yielded agreements without the active role of an external element. If the US does not deem it prudent to get directly involved, there is no reason why the Secretary General of the United Nations should not be urged to play a real facilitating role.
The Executive Director hoped that the US assumes the position as a leader and takes an active role in finding a lasting settlement on Kashmir. It is obvious that no settlement can last if it is not based on justice for the people of Kashmir and recognition of their inherent rights. Dr. Fai said that we place the trust in the statesmanship of President Obama that he will not countenance any attempt to ignore the wishes of the people of Kashmir and bypass the expression of those wishes. He also said that the appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir - a person of an international standing, like Bishop Desmond Tutu - would hasten the process of peace and reconciliation in the region of South Asia.
Dr. Fai emphasized that India has been trying to gain some mileage in propaganda by drawing attention to the presence and operation of some extremist militant groups in Kashmir. But such groups will unfortunately continue to obtain popular support and feel justified in participating in the freedom struggle in Kashmir, thereby distorting the character of that struggle, as long as the Kashmiri leadership is seen as having failed to secure a just settlement. The way to starve extremist elements and deny them sustenance from public sentiment is to show that means other than those they espouse can secure the peace with justice which they proclaim as their aim. In fact, it is only when they are discredited that they can be curbed.
Hafiz Mohammad Sabir cautioned that the Kashmir issue assumed a very special geo-strategic importance, as it is a nuclear flashpoint. He urged the United States to help settle the issue of Kashmir in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Sardar Swar Khan emphasized that the sacrifices of the Kashmiri people will not be allowed to go waste. The world will have to honor their determination for salvation and freedom.
Major Tahir Iqbal pledged to support the cause of Kashmir till the people achieve their right to self-determination. He said that self-determination is non-negotiable.
Mr. Tahir Iqbal asked the international community to take notice of the massive dissent expressed by the people of Kashmir on the streets of the Valley by coming out in millions.
Mr. Liaqat Kiyani congratulated the Kashmiri Americans for making the demonstration a grand success. It is a moral booster for those who have said no to Indian occupation.
Dr. Imtiyaz Khan gave an eyewitness account of the recent uprising in Kashmir.
Shehzad Chaudhary said that the role that the Diaspora are playing in highlighting the issue is our moral and legal responsibility.
Mr. Taj Khan appealed to the audience to continue the struggle at the international level to impress upon the world community that Kashmiris will not accept anything short of self-determination.
Mr. Taj Akbar elaborated on the nature of the draconian laws operational in Occupied Kashmir for the last two decades which have given sense of impunity to the Indian solider in Kashmir.
Mr. Zahid Hameedi said that the sacrifices of the people of Kashmir would not go in vain. He asked the international community to come to the rescue the people of Kashmir in their hour of need.
The demonstration was organized by the Kashmiri American Council/Kashmir Center but all the diaspora political parties. i.e., J&K Muslim conference; JK Peoples Conference; Pakistan Peoples Party AJK; JK Jamaat-e-Islami, JK Liberation Front; JK Peoples Muslim League showed unflinching faith in their goal for freedom.