Columbus, Ohio. September 2, 2008.
"Certainly, terrorists cannot compose the entire populations of the major towns, villages and city of Indian-Occupied Kashmir. And more than one million people cannot be instigated and provoked by a remote control." Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai.
"The presence of more than one million people at Martyr's cemetery on August 22, 2008 reflect the true nature of the peaceful Kashmiri resistance movement and not a movement of terrorism," said Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director, Kashmiri American Council/Kashmir Center during a seminar entitled, "Kashmir Dispute: Setting a Stage for a Settlement" at ISNA Convention in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Fai said if all the people of the Vale of Kashmir are the agents of "Azadi", then that by itself removes the ground from India's claim to the territory. The speakers included: Congressman Dan Burton, Republican from Indiana; Lord Nazir Ahmed, Member, British House of Lords; Ambassador Yusuf Buch, former Senior Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General; Mr. harsh Mander, Country Director, Action Aid, India; Dr. Ghulam N. Mir, President, world Kashmir Freedom Movement.
Dr. Fai said if all the people of the Vale of Kashmir are the agents of "Azadi",then that by itself removes the ground from India's claim to the territory. The speakers included: Congressman Dan Burton, Republican from Indiana; LordNazir Ahmed, Member, British House of Lords; Ambassador Yusuf Buch, former Senior Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General; Mr. harsh Mander, Country Director, Action Aid, India; Dr. Ghulam N. Mir, President, world Kashmir Freedom Movement.
Congressman Burton said, Kashmir's political status has been disputed almost since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947. Although the 1949 U.N. cease-fire agreement, and U.N. Resolution of April 21, 1948, August 13, 1948, January 5, 1949, to name a few, all rejected India's claim of accession of the region to India, and declared that the state's future would be determined by its citizens through a free and impartial plebiscite, noplebiscite has ever been held." Congressman noted that India claims to be the world's largest democracy, and like any other great democracy, its soldiers should be and must be held to a higher standard of conduct. Yet, India's insistence on resolving a political problem by force has dragged it down in to a campaign of essentially lawless state terrorism. Congressman said that United Nations has not lived upto its responsibilities. He urged the United Nations and the U.S. Administration to become involved in the Kashmir dispute so as the resolve the issue to the satisfaction of the people of the state.
Amb. Yusuf Buch said, "The posture of admitting no wrong which remains habitually Indian is receiving much encouragement from the very world powers that loudly swear a commitment to human rights. The encouragement is afforded by the very potent means of studied silence over the violations being committed in Kashmir, no matter how rampant. Let me cite an example. How many times, in and out of season, we have been reminded of a particular occurrence in Tiananmen Square some years ago? The reported wrong committed there on that ill-fated day has taken place, even though in a different manner, a number of times in and out of Srinagar. Have we heard a word, even a whisper, about gardens being turned into graveyards, about young women being raped and their mothers being forced to witness the atrocity, about young men being crippled and maimed for life, about the great numbers of fake disappearances which are continuing to this day in occupied Kashmir? It will glibly be said that itpoints only to the failure of the media. But have not the media been influenced and deterred from an aggressive, truth-revealing course by official policies sedulously maintained?"
Amb. Buch maintained "This respectful protection provided to the occupation regime in Kashmir by governments and media is a most depressing example of the double standards that are maintained in upholding the values which were enshrined in the United Nations Charter. These values, though entirely secular, had enough resonance in them to turn them into a reliable counter-force against the irrational extremism which does not originate in religion. However, they have now been robbed of their appeal, turned into mere tools of policy by the world powers, invoked in one situation and completely forgotten in another, even if closely comparable. You cannot successfully fight a war against extremism while fertilizing the sense of injustice that is one of the roots of extremism. You cannot overcome the religious extremism if you keep supplying them proof that, for redressinginjustice, peaceful secular processes are but a pretence or a trap. What principles and instruments do Pakistan and Kashmiris invoke for the redress of the wrongs inflicted on them? Not any conceived and inspired solely by their religion. They call for adherence to principles which are recognized by the Charter as basic to a peaceful and stable world order. The self-determination of peoples which have a defined and recognized individuality and fulfillment of international agreements constitute the sum and substance of their claim. The documents theKashmiris rely upon were not drawn up in mosques. They were composed by western hands in the Security Council of the United Nations. Yet they engage as much interest today as they would if they had been written by Muslim clerics in a phraseology bearing a religious aura."
Mr. Harsh Mander said that youth across Kashmir give voice to feelings of loss, anguish and despair. These sombre themes – of suffering, loss, fear and despair – that were to recur in many dialogues I held with young men and women of the Kashmir valley, in universities, cottage industries and farms; I was invited as part of International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir, convened by human rights activists Parvez Imroz and Angana Chatterji. Many youth talk of mass graves and custodial killings: of fathers who were "disappeared" by security forces and the family's aching wait for those who would never return. A young shawl maker, Shafi, speaks of three brothers in his village whose father "disappeared", and all the boys became thieves. "Without fathers to guide them, so many boys have become awara lafanga (vagabonds)," adds another. One college student said that his father was for long stretches in custody, because he was suspected of sympathy with militant groups. "As a child, I was often angry with my father, because I felt he had brought us so much suffering. I would not even talk to him. But now in college, I endorse his beliefs." They spoke also of despair breeding a culture of drugs, and the culture of lawless violence ensured that drugs were freely available at every street-corner.
Mr. Mander said that "Even in small towns, you encounter even today bullet-proof tanks stationed on busy market squares, and surly soldiers armed with deadly weapons at every turn. The soldiers themselves dread their postings to Kashmir. Separated from their families, they tell me: "We are lonely. We detest the winter cold, and the long hours. We are forced to stand at our posts with our guns from early morning till late into the night. But worse still is that the local people hate us so much. We are therefore always worried for our lives."
Dr. Ghulam N. Mir said that Indian armed forces committed unprecedented atrocities on people of Jammu and Kashmir but failed to break the morale of the people. He said the Kashmir dispute is primarily the issue of self-determination which is a basic principle of the UN Charter. Inability to resolve this issue, he pointed out, is directly affecting the peace and stability of the region. Dr. Mir noted that although the composite dialogue began four years ago there has been little progress because of India's intransigence. The Indian government is not sincere on this issue and her aim is to prolong the negotiations. He called upon all civilized nations to stand by just cause of Kashmir and impress upon India to grant them their birth right that is right to self determination as guaranteed by the United Nations resolution and pledged by India and Pakistan before comity of nations.