Washington, February 16, 2009. Prominent Kashmiri-American leaders and South Asian experts asked the Obama Administration at a seminar Sunday to put the Kashmir dispute resolution on the agenda of its special envoy Richard Holbrooke.
Experts and leaders – speaking at the event held to express solidarity with Kashmiris’ cause – drew world attention to the plight of the people in the heavily militarized Indian occupied territory and urged U.S. President Barack Obama to fulfill his promise to resolve the lingering UN-recognized dispute.
“The people of Kashmir deserve worldwide support —there is absolutely no terrorism (on part of the people) — as acknowledged by Indian writers and international affairs observers, the Kashmiris’ struggle for their rights is non-violent, peaceful, popular and indigenous,” said Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, head of the Kashmiri American Council.
He recalled that the United States was the principal backer of a landmark resolution on Kashmir in 1948 and both the U.S. and the U.N. see Kashmir as a dispute which should be resolved in accordance with the will of the people. He rejected the Indian foreign minister’s claim that Kashmir was an integral part of India.
Reminding the U.S. of its obligation toward settlement of the longstanding dispute, Fai also cited President Barack Obama’s statement in October 2008 when he expressed his desire to resolve the dispute as part of regional efforts to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Islamabad’s deputy ambassador in Washington Muhammad Aslam Khan renewed the Pakistani nation’s support for the UN-mandated rights of Kashmiris and urged India on serious engagement towards resolution of outstanding disputes.
He said Pakistan believes the Kashmiri people must be associated with the Pakistan-India dialogue process for arriving at a sustainable solution.
The legitimate aspirations of Kashmiris cannot be ignored and must be accommodated in any just and durable solution, he added.
“Pakistan desires mutually beneficial and cooperative relationship with India. We are committed to a serious, sustained and constructive dialogue with India leading to early and full normalization of relations on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference.”
The diplomat called for addressing the real issues between the two countries, notably the Kashmir question but said they have not been able to do so mainly due to reasons of lack of seriousness on the part of India.
“The clock is ticking, the stakes are higher with the passing of every day. The fate of the people of Kashmir cannot be held in abeyance any more. The future of over 1.3 billion people of South Asia cannot be held hostage to the imperial ambitions of a regional power. The blood of the innocent men, women and children cannot be allowed to flow year after year.
The Untied States, he stated, owes its support to the Kashmiris’ just struggle in its own interest, and in the interest of regional and global peace and stability.
Khan hoped that all stakeholders would realize the “fierce urgency of now,” because delaying further of this long-festering dispute is in no one’s interest and is no longer affordable.
Those who addressed the solidarity day event included Dr. Malik Mujahid, Member, Board of Director, Parliament of World Religions; Sardar Tahir Iqbal, Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party; Shahzad Chaudhry, PML-N, Syed Adeeb, Editor, Information Press; Professor Barbara Wolf, World Peace Prayer Society; Professor Margaret Fikioris, World Peace Prayer Society, Sardar Zahid Khan, General secretary, Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party, North America; Dr. Zulfikhar Kazmi, President, Interreligious International Federation for Peace, Pakistan Chapter; Ms. Farhana Ali, Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism; Sardar Ishaq Sharif, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front; Ms. Aneela Mouhsin, Student; Arif Khan, Human Rights activist; Dr. Amerjit Singh; Raja Liaqat Kiyani, Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party; Zakir Hussain Shah, community leader; Mr. Zahid Kiyani, Jamaat-e-Islami, Azad Kashmir; Zubair Khan, Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference and many other prominent Kashmir and Pakistani human rights activists. (APP)
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