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Kashmiris’ inclusion in Pak, India talks on Kashmir stressed

Srinagar, February 15, 2014 (PPI-OT): “Our efforts should be to persuade the world community including the United States to urge both India and Pakistan to include the leadership of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the negotiations to peacefully resolve the dispute over Kashmir.

When we talk of Kashmir, we talk of the sentiments and enormous sacrifices made by the Kashmiri people during the past 67 years for a cause dear to all inhabitants, be they Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists.

It is time that both India and Pakistan realize that until the Kashmiri leadership is included in the peace process, these negotiations between India and Pakistan may not lead them to any logical conclusion,” said the Executive Director of Kashmiri American Council, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, at a seminar, held at Holiday Inn Hotel and organized by Kashmir Forum, Washington, D.C.

Dr Fai said, “I do not doubt for a minute that to regain much of what has been lost, the people of Kashmir are determined to present their peaceful objectives to the international community. Their objective is to seek a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict through dialogue, with the participation of all parties – Government of India, Government of Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. Their view is one of inclusion. They believe that there is nothing to be gained by isolating groups with varying opinions.”

Dr Ghulam Nabi Mir, the President of the World Kashmir Freedom Movement, said that the Kashmiris would not consent to rule by a power that had visited death and destruction to brutalize them into submission from the very beginning when the first Indian trooper set his foot on the soil of Kashmir.

Peer Sahib Ali Raza Bukhari said that Kashmir was sacred cause because its legality had been recognized by the United Nations. He pointed out that India and Pakistan both being nuclear-weapon states were directly confronting each other, which had made the Kashmir dispute potentially the most dangerous in the world. It should, therefore, be a major interest of the US to prevent this dispute from exploding into a conflict which can be catastrophic for a large proportion of the human race, he added.

Sardar Sawar Khan, former Advisor to the Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, said, “I firmly believe that for too long has the world viewed Jammu and Kashmir dispute from the perspective of India and Pakistan and never from the perspective of the people of Kashmir that are directly affected by the problem day after day on the ground.

And I believe that to ignore the Kashmiri viewpoint is a big mistake. The international community must take into account the Kashmiri perspective which I believe is more important than the perspective of India or Pakistan and for that matter more important than the perspective of the international community.”

Lars Rise, Norwegian Parliamentarian, said, “I have visited Kashmir and met with the leadership of All Parties Hurriyet Conference. I have come to Washington and attended the International Peace Conferences organized by Dr Fai at the Capitol Hill. I am sure that given a chance, the people of Kashmir will be instrumental in building a bridge between India and Pakistan to settle the long-standing dispute over Kashmir through peaceful negotiations.“ Kashmiris have a long tradition of peace and religious tolerance, Lars Rise added.

Dr Imtiaz Khan, Vice President of the Kashmiri American Council, demanded that the Government of India must release all political prisoners; repeal all black laws, particularly Public Safety Act, and Disturbed Areas Act, etc., dismantle bunkers from villages and towns, and give freedom of expression and freedom of speech to the Kashmiris.

Sardar Tahir Iqbal, the host, said that the people of Kashmir had the birthright to express their sentiments and their opinions and they should be allowed to demonstrate peacefully to demand their right of self-determination. The US should definitely recommend improving the atmosphere in Kashmir by a full restoration of civil liberties, including the liberty to express themselves peacefully on the question of their own future, he maintained.

Dr Zulfiqar Kazmi emphasized that the Kashmir dispute primarily involved the life and future of the Kashmiri people. Because of its impact on relations between India and Pakistan, however, it directly affects the peace and stability of more than 1.2 billion people of South Asia, he added.

Dr Zahid Bukhari suggested that friends of Kashmir must apprise the American policy makers about the ground realities in Kashmir. We need to seek the understanding of the American policy making agencies to help resolve the dispute according to the wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

He called upon the world powers to persuade both India and Pakistan to accede to international law in Kashmir, to cooperate in holding a referendum administered by a neutral agency, and to welcome third party intervention or mediation to solve the lingering dispute.

Sardar Gulfaraz Khan said that nothing better could be said about human rights in occupied Kashmir. Every human rights group that has examined the convulsed scene in Kashmir has reported harrowing human rights violations including tens of thousands of extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, plunder, arbitrary arrests, and ruthless suppression of free speech and press. The US State Department’s annual human rights report invariably paints an ugly human rights dispensation in Kashmir, he stated.

Sardar Zubair Khan said that a promising first step towards a just and peaceful denouement of the Kashmir tragedy would be the recognition by the US, Pakistan and India of the All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) as the genuine voice of the Kashmiri people.

Sardar Zarif Khan said that today the consensus was that Kashmir conflict remained the underlying cause of the nuclear confrontation between the two neighbouring countries. “Without a just and lasting peace in Kashmir that vindicates self determination, trying to reduce missile and nuclear arsenals in South Asia will be an exercise in futility,” he remarked.

Mian Wasim elaborated that the issue of Kashmir is by no definition a border dispute between India and Pakistan. “The issue of Kashmir is a problem resolving around the lives of 18 million people of Jammu and Kashmir. The Kashmiri leadership must be the part and parcel of any peace negotiations,” he said.

Asad Chaudhary of PML-N said, “We feel honoured to help our brethren in Jammu and Kashmir. We believe that it is only fair that the Kashmir dispute must be decided in accordance with the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions. We must accept whatever the people of Kashmir decide.”

Mazhar Chughtai of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf suggested taking an initiative to make the US Administration aware of the situation in occupied Kashmir. He said that the Kashmir dispute was one of the oldest issues pending on the agenda of the UN Security Council. “The Kashmiri people have suffered since the issue was first debated at the United Nations in 1948. The wishes of the Kashmiri people must be taken into consideration in seeking any settlement of the dispute,” he further said.

Sardar Muhammad Zahid urged the world community to put an end to the human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. “Millions of people on the streets of Srinagar demanded noting short of Azaadi. We must not let them down,” he said.

10-year-old student, Hashim Khan of Maryland said that the people of Jammu and Kashmir want Azaadi (freedom). “Our message to the people of Kashmir is: Continue your peaceful struggle; Freedom is ours; and, Do not compromise on your basic principle of self-determination,” he added.

Sardar Zulfiqar Khan, while moderating the seminar said that the situation in Kashmir demanded that the world powers must strengthen the non-violent and indigenous movement in Kashmir.

Others who spoke at the seminar included Raja Liaqat Kayani, Sardar Zahoor Khan, Aurang Zeb Khan, MQM, Sardar Ishaq Sharif, JKLF, Zahid Hamidi, Arifullah, Sardar Ali and Asad Kamal.

The event was co-sponsored by Kashmiri American Council, Peoples Party of Pakistan, Azad Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Jammu and Kashmir Muslim League, Jamaat-e-Islami Azad Kashmir, and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation League.

For more information, contact:
Kashmir Media Service
Phone: 92-51-4435548, 4435549
Fax: 92-51-4861736

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