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Kashmiri Americans stage demo outside White House

Washington: Hundreds of Kashmiri Americans and friends of Kashmir staged a protest demonstration in front of the White House in connection with the martyrdom anniversaries of Muhammad Maqbool Butt and Muhammad Afzal Guru.

The demonstrators while urging the United States to help persuade Pakistan and India to initiate peace process along with the leadership of the people of Kashmir raised slogans “Indian Forces: Out of Kashmir”, “No justice: No Peace”, “Freedom for all: Freedom for Kashmir”, “India State of Fear: Not Fair”.

On the occasion, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum said it is clear that resolving Kashmir dispute requires a careful evaluation of its many points of contention and addressing them one by one in a carefully drawn out process in which coming to an agreement on each, sets the stage for moving on to the next.

“The most basic set of principles must be established and adhered to regarding human rights, the interests of the Kashmiris themselves, and the preservation of vital interests that both India and Pakistan have at stake, and then to proceed with steps toward objectives that result in a win-win solution for all,” he added.

Dr Fai paid glowing tribute to Mohammad Maqbool Butt and Muhammad Afzal Guru. He said that Maqbool Butt was an iconic and charismatic leader who struggled tirelessly for the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

Butt’s selfless contribution to the cause of Kashmir will inspire generations to come. Fai quoted Arundhati Roy who wrote in ‘The Daily Guardian’, on 10 February 2013, “Now he (Afzal Guru) has been hanged, I hope our (India’s) collective conscience has been satisfied. Or is our cup of blood still only half full?”

Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhary, former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, said that the resolution of Kashmir dispute could have enabled both Pakistan and India to spend their finite resources more on the development of their people rather than on defense expenditure. He expressed his admiration to 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 to encourage peace and stability not only in the subcontinent but in Afghanistan as well. As many experts of international relations now publicly say that the key to peace and stability in Afghanistan lies in Kashmir. Barrister added one cannot deal with the tensions between India and Pakistan without simultaneously addressing the bone of contention of these tensions – that is Kashmir. He said that the United States has a moral responsibility to persuade both India and Pakistan to settle the Kashmir conflict through meaningful dialogue.

Professor Imtiaz Khan, President, Kashmiri American Council said, “People of Kashmir gave a resounding rebuff to Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Kashmir. He was greeted with empty streets and shuttered shops. Total closure was observed to convey to him the feelings of people of Kashmir. This clearly showed that people of Kashmir have rejected Indian occupation and expressed unequivocally their desire to take their struggle to its logical conclusion.

Ali S. Khan, Executive Director, Kashmiri Scandinavian Council said 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 realities known to the entire world outside 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 of Srinagar said, Hurriyat 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 State.

Sardar Imtiaz Khan, New Jersey asked India to allow a referendum in Kashmir.

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 demand an impartial investigation into human rights violations.

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 the United States 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 India has defied United Nations Security Council resolutions for more than 71 years because she knows Kashmiris will never vote in her favor. It is time for Pakistan and India both to get serious about talks.

Iqbal Chand Doddy said we 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 taking trouble to come from distances to attend event. Sardar Sajid Sawar Khan said Kashmir dispute is about the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Sardar Zahid Khan said the Indian army is responsible for many untold atrocities but she could not break the will of the people.

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 the flash point between the two nuclear countries of India and Pakistan which deserved the attention of the world powers.

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.

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