Kashmiri-Americans call for freedom & justice in Kashmir at rally near White House

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NEW YORK, Feb 10 (APP):Hundreds of Kashmiri-Americans and their friends staged a demonstration in Washington protesting against the ongoing human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir and demanding the exercise of their UN-promised right to self-determination.
According to a press release, speakers at the rally, which took place in front of the White House, urged the United States to persuade India and Pakistan to initiate a peace process along with the leadership of the people of Kashmir.
The demonstrators raised vociferous slogans of “Indian Forces: Out of Kashmir”, “No justice: No Peace” , “Freedom for all: Freedom for Kashmir”, and “India State of Fear: Not Fair”, the press release said.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary-General of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, called for a win-win solution for all in resolving the decades-old dispute after establishing a set of principles underscoring commitment to human rights, the interests of the Kashmiris as well as the vital interests of both India and Pakistan.
Fai paid glowing tributes to the memory of Kashmiri activists Afzal Guru and Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, whom he called 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, he added.
Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chowdhary, former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmi,r said that the resolution of Kashmir issue could have enabled both Pakistan and India to spend their resources more on the development of their people rather than on defence.
He praised 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 in encouraging peace and stability not only in the sub-continent, but in Afghanistan as well, he said, while noting the views of many experts of international relations that the key to peace and stability in Afghanistan lies in Kashmir.
Barrister Chowdhry said that the United States has a moral responsibility to persuade both India and Pakistan to settle the Kashmir conflict through a meaningful dialogue.
Professor Imtiaz Khan, President of the Kashmiri American Council, said that the people of Kashmir gave a resounding rebuff to Indian Prime Miniter Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Kashmir. Modi had the mortification of seeing empty streets and shuttered shops, which even the Indian press reported.
“This clearly showed that people of Kashmir have rejected Indian occupation, and expressed unequivocally their desire to take their struggle to its logical conclusion,” Imtiaz Khan said. He also emphasized that Kashmiris are giving huge sacrifices for attaining freedom and it was the obligation of the diaspora and all other people who share their sentiments to educate the masses in United States and other countries about the Kashmir problem and ongoing atrocities in that region.
Ali S. Khan, Executive Director of the 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 ground realities, 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, an activist from Srinagar, said that 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 disputed state.
Sardar Imtiaz Khan, an activist from 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.
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 lose value when the 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 Washington’s 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 favour. It was time for Pakistan and India both to get serious about talks, he said.
Iqbal Chand Doddy said he 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 coming from distances to attend this important event. Kashmir deserves the attention of the world powers and efforts would be made to 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 emphasized that Kashmir was a flash point between the two nuclear-armed countries of India and Pakistan
He added
that it was their 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, Akram Butt and others.