Washington, D.C. February 6, 2106. “It is in the interest of world peace that India and Pakistan need to resolve the Kashmir dispute to the satisfaction of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The final and durable settlement of the Kashmir dispute will undoubtedly guarantee peace and stability in the region of South Asia. It will also have a great impact on the international peace and security,” this was stated by Dr. Eija-Riitta Korhola who served as the member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the European Parliament and who was the key-note speaker at the Kashmir Solidarity Day event organized here by friends of Kashmir in Washington, DC metropolitan area and beyond. The event was attended by a large number of people interested in peace and stability in the region of South Asia.
Dr. Korhola added, “Kashmir is not forgotten. We are not going to let it happen. Why? Because as human beings we cannot afford ignoring basic right of self-determination. She emphasized, “The Kashmir problem was in many ways created by one of our members in the EU. When the British left India in 1947, they left without defining the future of Kashmir. Because of this historical background Europe has a special responsibility to make sure that the Kashmiri people will get the right to have the promised referendum to define their own future.”
Dr. Korhola suggested that all sides of the conflict – India, Pakistan and Kashmiris – should talk to each other with respect. We do not need to tell the Kashmiris what they want. They should be provided the full opportunity to decide whatever they want without any external pressure.
Mr. Lars Rise, founding Chairman of the Norwegian Parliamentary Kashmir Committee pleaded for a third party mediation to help bring all parties concerned to the negotiating table. How can India and Pakistan think to resolve the Kashmir conflict without the participation of the Kashmiri leadership when we know that the Kashmiri people are the primary party to the dispute, Lars added?
Mr. Rise said as per specific UN Resolutions on Kashmir it does not need to be defined as to what is the solution of the Kashmir issue. The referendum should give the people of Kashmir all choices: whether to be the part of India or Pakistan or to remain independent.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General of the World Kashmir Awareness said that ”No one knows better than Washington foreign policy experts that American strategy of conflict in a region involving India, Pakistan and Afghanistan — and of the delicate relationship that need to be safeguarded from violent disruption. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the disputed territory of Kashmir and the potential for a more devastating third can hardly be said to have been removed, especially in view of the nonviolent and popular uprising in Kashmir. Despite the heavy cost, the people of Kashmir are not likely to give up their demand to right of self-determination, Fai continued.
We fail to understand why India and Pakistan do not want the Kashmiri participation in the talks when the right to choose the destiny of 18 million people was given by the UN Security Council to the inhabitants of the territory and not to the leadership in New Delhi or Islamabad, Fai added. Any attempt to strike a deal between any two parties without associating the third, will always lead us to a barren land. So, the future negotiations must be tripartite between the Governments of India & Pakistan and the leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
Senator (Dr.) Akbar Khawaja, quoted Bilal Bhutto, the Co-Chairman of PPP, "I will take back Kashmir, all of it, and I will not leave behind a single inch of it.” Bilawal also said, “Quaid-e-Awam Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto had a special place for Kashmir and Kashmir people in their hearts. I will follow the policy of my predecessors on the Kashmir issue because their struggle for the right to self-determination is historic.”
Dr. Imtiaz Khan, Senior Vice President, Kashmiri American Council who recently came back from the Valley mentioned the atrocities are being committed by Indian army on the civilian population day in and day out. Syed Ali Geelani, the leader of Kashmiri resistance gave me a simple message, Khan added, and the message was, The Kashmiri diaspora has a responsibility to internationalize the Kashmir conflict.
Mr. Javaid Rathore, Former Advisor to Prime Minister Bainazair Bhutto said that the international community needs to realize her responsibility to help urge both India and Pakistan to set a stage for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
Ali Shahnawaz Khan, Executive Director, Kashmiri Scandinavian Council said that Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris. It is they who have the right to decide its future, Khan said.
Others who spoke included Sardar Zarif Khan, Sardar Zubair Khan. Sardar Zulfiqar Khan was the ‘M.C.’ of the event.
The event concluded by forming the human chain by hundreds of participants to express solidarity with the oppressed people of Jammu & Kashmir.
Dr. Fai can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org 1-202-607-6435