Kashmir is not forgotten. We are not going to let it happen: Dr. Korhola
Washington, D.C. February 6, 2106. “It is in the interest of world peace that India and Pakistan need to resolve the Kashmir dispute to the satisfaction of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The final and durable settlement of the Kashmir dispute will undoubtedly guarantee peace and stability in the region of South Asia. It will also have a great impact on the international peace and security,” this was stated by Dr. Eija-Riitta Korhola who served as the member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the European Parliament and who was the key-note speaker at the Kashmir Solidarity Day event organized here by friends of Kashmir in Washington, DC metropolitan area and beyond. The event was attended by a large number of people interested in peace and stability in the region of South Asia.
Dr. Korhola added, “Kashmir is not forgotten. We are not going to let it happen. Why? Because as human beings we cannot afford ignoring basic right of self-determination. She emphasized, “The Kashmir problem was in many ways created by one of our members in the EU. When the British left India in 1947, they left without defining the future of Kashmir. Because of this historical background Europe has a special responsibility to make sure that the Kashmiri people will get the right to have the promised referendum to define their own future.”
Dr. Korhola suggested that all sides of the conflict – India, Pakistan and Kashmiris – should talk to each other with respect. We do not need to tell the Kashmiris what they want. They should be provided the full opportunity to decide whatever they want without any external pressure.
Mr. Lars Rise, founding Chairman of the Norwegian Parliamentary Kashmir Committee pleaded for a third party mediation to help bring all parties concerned to the negotiating table. How can India and Pakistan think to resolve the Kashmir conflict without the participation of the Kashmiri leadership when we know that the Kashmiri people are the primary party to the dispute, Lars added?
Mr. Rise said as per specific UN Resolutions on Kashmir it does not need to be defined as to what is the solution of the Kashmir issue. The referendum should give the people of Kashmir all choices: whether to be the part of India or Pakistan or to remain independent.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General of the World Kashmir Awareness said that ”No one knows better than Washington foreign policy experts that American strategy of conflict in a region involving India, Pakistan and Afghanistan — and of the delicate relationship that need to be safeguarded from violent disruption. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the disputed territory of Kashmir and the potential for a more devastating third can hardly be said to have been removed, especially in view of the nonviolent and popular uprising in Kashmir. Despite the heavy cost, the people of Kashmir are not likely to give up their demand to right of self-determination, Fai continued.
We fail to understand why India and Pakistan do not want the Kashmiri participation in the talks when the right to choose the destiny of 18 million people was given by the UN Security Council to the inhabitants of the territory and not to the leadership in New Delhi or Islamabad, Fai added. Any attempt to strike a deal between any two parties without associating the third, will always lead us to a barren land. So, the future negotiations must be tripartite between the Governments of India & Pakistan and the leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
Senator (Dr.) Akbar Khawaja, quoted Bilal Bhutto, the Co-Chairman of PPP, “I will take back Kashmir, all of it, and I will not leave behind a single inch of it.” Bilawal also said, “Quaid-e-Awam Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto had a special place for Kashmir and Kashmir people in their hearts. I will follow the policy of my predecessors on the Kashmir issue because their struggle for the right to self-determination is historic.”
Dr. Imtiaz Khan, Senior Vice President, Kashmiri American Council who recently came back from the Valley mentioned the atrocities are being committed by Indian army on the civilian population day in and day out. Syed Ali Geelani, the leader of Kashmiri resistance gave me a simple message, Khan added, and the message was, The Kashmiri diaspora has a responsibility to internationalize the Kashmir conflict.
Mr. Javaid Rathore, Former Advisor to Prime Minister Bainazair Bhutto said that the international community needs to realize her responsibility to help urge both India and Pakistan to set a stage for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
Ali Shahnawaz Khan, Executive Director, Kashmiri Scandinavian Council said that Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris. It is they who have the right to decide its future, Khan said.
Others who spoke included Sardar Zarif Khan, Sardar Zubair Khan. Sardar Zulfiqar Khan was the ‘M.C.’ of the event.
The event concluded by forming the human chain by hundreds of participants to express solidarity with the oppressed people of Jammu & Kashmir.
While India Celebrates, Kashmir Mourns
N.N. Vohra, Governor of Jammu and Kashmir and apparent ventriloquist dummy for some folks a little further south, according to Kashmir Today, “observed that it is the duty of all citizens to protect and preserve the unity and integrity of the nation, adding that towards the attainment of such an objective all of us must join hands to negate all divisive and communal forces and promote societal harmony and brotherhood.”
India is of course celebrating its 67th Republic Day to honor its Constitution that became enforceable on January 26 in 1950. But the world’s largest “democracy” had no such democratic intentions for Kashmir. It was just two years earlier that the United Nations Security Council had been adopted, creating the Ceasefire Line, which was to end the war, stave off further conflict between India and Pakistan and pave the way for conditions in which a plebiscite could be held in which the people of Jammu and Kashmir could decide for themselves whether they wished to be an integral part of India, join Pakistan, or be free to chart their own course as an independent state.
Vohra’s comments sound like nice words, sort of like you might have heard in the sixties in the West’s hippie movement, with the Beatles crooning, “All You Need Is Love.” Perhaps we should all go out and pick flowers and do some of that funny stuff. But in a community where such a speech is accompanied by tightened security measures with drones flying overhead and heavily armed men and vehicles have shut off all access, it’s hardly reminiscent of a lovefest in Berkeley, nor does it reflect the spirit in which a constitution creating democratic process in the Republic of India would otherwise exhibit. One thinks more of the Bob Dylan song written during that era and made popular by Peter, Paul and Mary, “Blowing In the Wind,” with the lyrics, “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?” How many roads must Kashmiris walk, it must be asked, before they are given their independence?
The subsequent unilateral actions of India in refusing to permit a plebiscite and declaring then that Jammu and Kashmir and all its people were the property of the state has since defined the conflict between India and Pakistan and led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. For what reason?
India certainly has the right to celebrate this historic day within its legal boundary. But according to all recognized UN resolutions and other policies adopted by foreign states, Kashmir remains a disputed territory. Therefore, India persists in allying itself with a position that has no legal, moral or constitutional authority to celebrate the Republic Day in Kashmir which is not the integral part of its territory. Its advocacy of this is no doubt the prime cause of continued suffering in Kashmir and persistent violations at the Ceasefire Line, sustaining the potential for more all-out war between the two countries.
All available evidence shows that India has occupied the territory with its military might on October 27, 1947 and that horrendous act took place against the wishes and will of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Hari Singh, the Maharaja, of course fled the Valley immediately following this crime, raising obvious questions as the legitimacy of his authority as a representative and spokesperson for the country he supposedly handed over to this undemocratic democracy. For Kashmiris, this is not a day to celebrate but a day of mourning, a day of catastrophe, when their power of self-determination was taken from them by occupiers.
India claims to be the largest democracy. The impartial and neutral agencies of the world testify that when it comes to Kashmir, India is nothing but an occupier. To quote Bertrand Russell, “The high idealism of the Indian government in international matters breaks down completely when confronted with the question of Kashmir.”
India violates the basic right to the people of Kashmir, like freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, freedom of travel, freedom of assembly and above all freedom to choose their destiny to be a part of India or Pakistan or remain independent. But that freedom to choose has to take place in an atmosphere that is free from coercion, intimidation and the military occupation by 700,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces who pillage and kill at will.
Mahatma Gandhi has said that Kashmir’s real rulers were its people and not its Maharajas. “If the people of Kashmir are in favor of opting for Pakistan, no power on earth can stop them from doing so. But they should be left free to decide for themselves.” (Gandhi’s Passion by Professor Stanley Wolpert, Page 247)
It will be better if India accepts the ground realities that the resolution of Kashmir will guarantee peace and stability not only in India and Pakistan but also in the whole region of South Asia and beyond. But that resolution needs to be explored by all parties concerned _ Governments of India & Pakistan and the leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.