Kashmiris Demand UN-Pledged Right of Self-Determination
New York: A huge peace march took place in New York on October 26 in which thousands of friends of Kashmir participated. The march was jointly sponsored by all groups who believe in the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir.
The most inspiring March began at the Indian Mission to the UN on 43 rd Street and led up 3 rd Avenue to 47 th, terminating in front of the United Nations. The cooperation of NY State and city police was exemplary and there were no incidents to mar the event.
Hundreds also participated in London, Brussels, Islamabad and Muzaffarabad with their own marches. In Srinagar, Kashmir, however, the leadership was put under house arrest and prevented from going to the office of the UN to present a memorandum.
Although there were several organizations involved in organizing the ‘Million-March’ in New York, none wished to take credit. Obviously the teamwork of hundreds of volunteers made it all happen, and to great success. Their sole purpose was to help the cause of Kashmir, a higher calling that seeks justice and fairness for the lives of Kashmiris, and respect for their right to determine their own future. Credit should instead be given to those millions of Kashmiris who are resisting the occupation of a foreign government.
It is a fact that when people keep cause above their political motives, the outcome is a victory. It is also a fact when people join hands for a great cause, the result is
a success. History tells us that a cause based on international legitimacy and universal principles will never die down. Achieving the ultimate result may take time but justice will not be denied forever.
The ‘Million-March’ initiative was taken in August 2015 by Barrister Sultan Mahmood Choudhary, former prime minister of Azad Kashmir in consultation with the leadership of Kashmiri American community. Within the past three months, the group had more than three dozen meetings in more than one dozen states in the United States which proved very effective in mobilizing thousands of people who came from far off places, like Calgary, Canada; Toronto, Canada; London, England; Illinois, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC, Delaware, etc.
What was amazing was that more than sixty percent of the participants were women and children. Their enthusiasm was genuine. Their sentiments were reflected by waving placards and chanting slogans like:
Wake Wake UN Wake Up
India Honor UN Pledges
India Out Of Kashmir
Kashmiris Demand Right of Self-determination
No Justice No Peace
We Want Freedom From India
Barrister Sultan Mahmood Choudhary indicated that the New York Million-March was the second March. The first successful one took place in England in 2014 where more than fifty thousand people participated. He said Kashmiris want a peaceful settlement but if the youth are pushed to the wall without any hope of escape, they will become disappointed which might lead to frustration. That will not help in establishing peace in the region. He therefore urged the international community to resolve the Kashmir dispute for the sake of peace and stability in South Asia.
The Barrister condemned the detention of the leadership in Srinagar who wanted to go to the office of the UN and present a memorandum that was to be sent to the Secretary General of the United Nations.
Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General of the World Kashmir Awareness thanked the friends of Kashmir for their generosity, compassion and friendship. Fai in particular thanked the youth and women for their participation. He pointed out what President Obama had said that Kashmir was the long outstanding dispute between India and Pakistan. That sharply contrasts comments by the Indian foreign minster, Ms. Sushma Suraj, who is repeating the mantra that Kashmir is an integral part of India.
Fai said that Ms. Suraj's statement goes against the very foundation of international agreements which were agreed by both India and Pakistan at the UN. According to those agreements, Kashmir does not belong to any member state of the United Nations. So, if Kashmir does not belong to any member state of the United Nations, then the claim of Ms. Sushma Suraj that Kashmir is an integral part of India does not stand.
Dr. Fai reiterated that tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and Kashmiri leadership will help resolve the longstanding dispute over Kashmir.
Syed Ali Geelani, Chairman, All Parties Hurriyet Conference, thanked all people who had come to express solidarity with the oppressed people of Jammu & Kashmir. He said that the issue of Kashmir was about the right of self-determination which was guaranteed under the United Nations Security Council resolutions. In his video message, Mr Geelani termed the latest situation in Kashmir alarming where RSS and its cohorts have a free hand to do whatever they want. Mr. Geelani said that the occupation forces killed more than 100,000 innocent civilians in Kashmir but they could not break the will of the people.
Mr Geelani appreciated the demilitarization initiative of Mian Nawaz Sharif; however, he explained that it has to be followed by holding a referendum to give the people of Jammu & Kashmir the right to chose. He also clarified that United Nations has to be mandated to supervise the state once the withdrawal of troops takes place by both India and Pakistan.
Yasin Malik, Chairman, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, in his video message expressed his appreciation for the participants in the ‘Million-March.’ He accused the government machinery in Kashmir of not giving any space for a political activity. He said that there is violation of the fundamental right of speech or assembly in Kashmir.
Mr Malik said that the dialogue process has been meaningless because there is no intention to resolve the Kashmir dispute. He emphasized that the participation of Kashmiris in the dialogue process is the sine qua non for a durable and lasting resolution of the dispute which will guarantee peace and stability in the region of South Asia. Mr Malik also hit out at Mr Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, for taking a hardline approach on the issue of Kashmir and demanded an environment where people were free to express their views and ideas.
Sardar Sawar Khan, former Adviser to the Azad Kashmir Prime Minister and the emcee of the event, who along with his team spent hundreds of hours mobilizing the ‘March,’ expressed gratitude to the people for their participation. Sardar Sawar said that the United Nations has a moral obligation to respond to the cries of children coming from the streets of Srinagar.
A memorandum was presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations in New York which urged him to use his good offices and appoint a person of international standing like President Mary Robinson, Bishop Desmond Tutu or Mr. Kofi Annan, as his special envoy on Kashmir and persuade India and Pakistan to initiate a peace process with the association of the United Nations as well as the genuine leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
Others who spoke included:
Captain Khalid Shaheen Butt Dr. Asif Rehman Shamsuz Zaman
Choudhary Mohammad Shaban Professor Taqdees Geelani Khlaid Awan
Choudhary Mohammad Mehboob Choudhary Zameer Taj Khan
Choudhary Mohammad Sarwar Sardar Imtiaz Khan Shabir Gul
Sardar Imtiaz Garalwi Sardar Zarif Khan Gulfaraz Inqilabi
Choudhary Gul Bahar Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Raja Yaqub
Choudhary Zahoor Akhtar Dr. Amerjit Singh Javed Rathore
Sardar Zahid Khan Malik Imtiaz Khan Yasin Chohan
Raja Liaqat Kiyani Sardar Tahir Iqbal Shafiq Shah
Sardar Zubair Khan Mehood Shah Touqeer Sheikh
Sardar Zahid Khan Sardar Asghar Khan Shams Khan
Johnney be Good Shahid Abbasi Mohammad Akbar
Shafqat Chughtai Sardar Niaz Imran Butt
Qazi Mushtaq Ali Sajad Jaffar (Canada Raja Qadeer (Canada)
Mohammad Farooq, (Calgary, Canada) Choudhary Mohammad Sageer (London).