WASHINGTON: Members of Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora held a demonstration here near the White House on Sunday (Feb 10) and demanded right of self-determination for the Kashmiri people. They raised slogans: “Indian Forces: Out of Kashmir”, “No justice: No Peace” , “Freedom for all: Freedom for Kashmir”, “India State of Fear: Not Fair”, demonstrators urged the United States to help persuade India and Pakistan to initiate peace process along with the leadership of the people of Kashmir.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum said that 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.
Fai praised Afzal Guru and Mohammad Maqbool Bhat. He said that Maqbool Bhat was an iconic and charismatic leader who struggled tirelessly for the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. “Bhat’s selfless contribution to the cause of Kashmir will inspire generations to come. Fai quotedArundhati 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?”
Sultan Mehmood Choudhary, former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir said that the resolution of Kashmir issue 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.
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, which was even reported by Indian press. 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 Shahnawaz. Khan, Executive Director, Kashmiri Scandinavian Council said that 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 from Srinagar said, Hurriyet 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.
Others who spoke included: Sardar Imtiaz Khan (New Jersey), Dr. Zafar Iqbal Noori, Sardar Taj Khan, Sardar Taj Khan, Amna Habib, Tooba Niaz, Sardar Zubair Khan, Sardar Zarif Khan, Iqbal Chand Doddy,
Raja Liaqat Kiyani, Sardar Sajid Sawar Khan, Sardar Zahid Khan, Imtiaz Malik, Sardar Zukfiqar Roshan Khan, Haji Shafi, Raja Mukhtar, Mushtaq Khan, Sardar Younis, Raja Sabir, Aftab Shah, Shafiq Shah, Sikender Sahib, Mrs. Tayyiba, Sardar Zahoor Khan, Kabir Khan, Sardar Zahid Khan, Sardar Asghar Khan, Hisham Waseem, Tariq Bhatti, Akram Butt and others.