President Obama Must Listen to Richard Holbrook’s Advice: Fai
Chicago: “Since the Obama Administration has engendered fresh hopes for the strengthening of world peace and democratic values in the Middle East and beyond, we would like to bring to his attention the 64-year old Kashmir dispute to which India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir are parties. The Kashmir question is one of the oldest unresolved international problems in the world. It is imperative, whatever be the rights and wrongs in the equation that real populations with a pronounced sense of identity, with their suffering and their aspirations rather than just legal title and merit are involved,” said Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director, Kashmiri American Council/Kashmir Center during a panel discussion at Rosemont Convention Center, Chicago, during the ISNA Convention, entitled, “Kashmir Dispute: Post Obama’s Visit to India”. Over 400 people were in attendance.
Those who spoke included, Mr. Azhar Aziz, Vice President, ISNA; Mr. Naeem Baig, Secretary General, ICNA; Dr. Ghulam Nabi Mir, President, World Kashmir Freedom Movement; Dr. M. Akram Dhar, Kashmiri American Council; and Mr. Todd Shea, American Humanitarian;
Fai said that it is not the inherent difficult of a solution, but the lack of the will to implement a solution, that has caused the prolonged deadlock over the Kashmir dispute. The deadlock has meant indescribable agony for the people of Kashmir and incalculable loss for both India and Pakistan. India’s obduracy not to have a vote in Kashmir was after she realized that she could not win the people’s vote, Fai explained.
Fai urged President Obama to listen to Mrs. Kati Marton, the widow of Ambassador Richard Holbrook who told Mr. Nicholas D. Kristof of New York Times that President Obama’s best tribute to Richard Holbrook would be to listen to his (Holbrook’s) advice. She said that he (Holbrook) believed that a crucial step to reducing radicalism in Pakistan was to ease the Kashmir dispute with India, and he (Holbrook) favored more pressure on India to achieve that.
Mr. Naeem Baig said that the conflict of Kashmir was one of the oldest continuing conflicts in the world and the people of Kashmir are the longest suffering people. The United Nations Security Council passed resolutions which states that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.
Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru reaffirmed the Indian Government’s commitment to the right of the Kashmiri people to determine their own future through a plebiscite. These are all indisputable facts. But still the people of Kashmir are denied their legitimate right of self-determination under one pretext or other, Naeem stressed.
Mr. Azhar Azeez said that India and Pakistan both have to go back to their pledges and do what they have promised to each other and to the world. The events of the last 64 years have shown that they are not capable to do it themselves. They need help and encouragement of the Security Council, especially the United States. The solution must come peacefully. The solution of this long-standing problem will be for the good of all the three parties: the people of Kashmir as well as India and Pakistan.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Mir said that the right of self-determination was given to the people of Kashmir by the United Nations. This right was given to all people of Jammu and Kashmir, irrespective of their religious affiliations and ethnic preferences. The development of non-violent movement in Kashmir needs to be supported and acknowledged by the international community. International public opinion and powerful global leaders must realize the magnitude of the disputed, Mir reiterated.
Dr. Mir categorically stated that ‘the international community should seize the moment of unprecedented peaceful protests in Kashmir and pursue efforts for a tripartite negotiations between India, Pakistan and the genuine leadership of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Dr. M. Akram Dhar said Kashmir is not about to abandon its quest for total and absolute freedom. They remain convinced of the justness of, and committed to that cause. And no power in the world is going to be able to dissuade them to abandon that struggle.
Dr. Dhar said that the Indian government should repeal the Armed forces Special Powers Act. Troops should be withdrawn and those guilty of crimes against the people should be punished. He quoted Amnesty Internaitonal report which talks of how Kashmir is holding hundreds of people each year without charge or trial in order to “keep them out of circulation,” not by charging people with a crime, but just holding people because they can. In fact, the Indian Supreme Court has called this law a “lawless law.”
“The authorities in J&K are using PSA detentions as a revolving door to keep people they can’t or won’t convict through the legal system locked up and out of the way. These arrests expose people to a higher risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment.”
“The people who get detained include political leaders and activists, suspected members or supporters of armed opposition groups, lawyers, journalists and protesters, including children. Often, they are initially picked up for ‘unofficial’ interrogation, during which time they have no access to a lawyer or their families.”
Mr. Todd Shea said that the people of Kashmir are determined to achieve their ultimate objective, which is the right of self-determination. The Indian army is responsible for the killings of innocent people of Kashmir and the United States Administration is doing nothing to stop these human rights atrocities committed by Indian army. The time has come that we need to remind our Administration to come to the rescue of the oppressed people of Kashmir, Todd added.