New Haven, Connecticut. October 21, 2009. Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director, Kashmiri American Council/Kashmir Center said, “The persistence of the Kashmir problem has been a source of weakness for both India and Pakistan. It has diminished both these neighboring countries. The resolution of this dispute will guarantee peace and prosperity not only to Kashmir but also to the whole region of South Asia.” Dr. Fai was invited as a guest speaker by the South Asian Society (SAS) at the Yale University. The lecture was moderated by Mr. Ashish Mitter, Chair, Political Forum of SAS.
Dr. Fai emphasized that 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 to be reconciled to it.
He reiterated that an indication of the misplaced focus by so-called South Asian experts is the wrong-headed talk about the sanctity of the Line of Control in Kashmir. This line was originally formalized by the international agreements as a temporary Cease-fire Line pending the demilitarization of the State of Jammu & Kashmir and the holding of a plebiscite to determine its future. The people of Kashmir are not resigned to its becoming some kind of an international border.
Dr. Fai said that the Government of India needs to listen to her delegate Mr. N. Gopalaswami, who said at the United Nations on January 15, 1948,” The question of the future status of Kashmir vis-à-vis her neighbours and the world at large, and a further question, namely, whether she should withdraw from her accession to India, and either accede to Pakistan or remain independent, with a right to claim admission as a Member of the United Nations – all this we have recognized to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir, after normal life is restored to them.”
Dr. Fai quoted Mr. Vir Sanghvi who wrote in the Hindustan Times on August 16, 2008, “So, here’s my question: why are we still hanging on to Kashmir if the Kashmiris don’t want to have anything to do with us?…we should hold a referendum in the Valley. Let the Kashmiris determine their own destiny. If they want to stay in India, they are welcome. But if they don’t, then we have no moral right to force them to remain.”
Dr. Fai rejected India’s allegation that there is terrorism in Kashmir. He said what could be less terrorist – than the phenomenon of virtually the whole population of Srinagar – at times more than one million – coming out on the streets, marching to the local office of the United Nations in order to lodge a non-violent protest against the continuance of Indian occupation. Certainly, terrorists cannot compose the entire populations of the major towns of Indian-Occupied Kashmir. One million people reflect the true nature of the peaceful Kashmiri resistance movement and not a movement of terrorism.
Dr. Fai concluded that the Kashmir dispute cannot be resolved militarily. It is a political issue and needs to be resolved through peaceful political means. So, the first step is that there has to be a cease-fire from all sides that must be followed by negotiations. Negotiations cannot and should not be carried out at a time when parties are killing each other. Kashmir must be demilitarized, on the one hand, and de-terrorized on the other.