PHC hosts virtual seminar to highlight Kashmir issue

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LONDON: Pakistan High Commission organised a Virtual Seminar on the theme of “Seeking Justice for Kashmiri Victims of Sexual Violence & Physical Torture and Widows” on Friday (June 26), to commemorate the UN International Days: International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, 19 June International Widows’ Day, 23 June and International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The High Commission also organised a “Photo Exhibition” to reflect on the plight of the Kashmiris in J&K that conformed the topic of the three UN Days.

In a show of solidarity, Members of the British Parliament, Kashmiri leaders, Eminent Scholars, Academics, Members of the Civil Society and British friends of Kashmir participated in the seminar.

LONDON: Pakistan High Commissioner Mohammad Nafees Zakaria addressing the Virtual Seminar on Kashmir at the Pakistan High Commission London on Friday.

President AJK, Sardar Masood Khan, gave a keynote address. Members of British Parliament, Steve Baker, Tony Lloyd MP, Lord Qurban Hussain, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Afzal Khan MP, Khalid Mehmood MP, Barrister Imran Hussain MP were among the Speakers while MPs Nadia Whittome and Naz Shah gave their messages of solidarity and commitment to support Kashmiris in J&K.

The Kashmiri leaders who participated and spoke on the occasion were Mushaal Malik, Professor Nazir Gilani, Professor Shahid Iqbal, Raja Najabat Hussain, Councillor Liaquat Ali, Mrs Shamim Shawl, Prof. Nazir Shawl, Mr. Majid Tramboo, Mrs. Shamim Shawl, Shaista Safi, Tajammul Shaikh, Raja Sikandar Khan, Faiz Naqshbandi, Councillor Yasmine Dar, Uzma Rasool, Councillor Asim Rashid, Muzammil Thakur, and Ali Raza Syed. A number of prominent Kashmiri and Pakistani Community members also attended the Seminar.

In his opening remarks, High Commissioner Mohammad Nafees Zakaria said the sufferings of the Kashmiri people span over decades and have no parallel in the world. The humanitarian crisis since 5 August 2019 has opened yet another dark chapter in human history, he added. He also referred to authentic documentary evidence in this regard.

LONDON: High Commissioner Mohammad Nafees Zakaria briefing media and visitors at the Photo Exhibition on Kashmir at the Pakistan High Commission London on Friday

Mr Zakaria shared that while the international community is observing UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture, over 12,000 young Kashmiris have been brutally injured by Indian occupation forces using pellet guns since July 2016. “The so-called world’s largest democracy has blinded a whole generation of Kashmiris and there is a complete communication blackout in J&K while International media has sporadically reported extreme torture perpetrated by the occupation forces”, he added.

In his keynote address, AJK President Sardar Masood Khan said Modi government is committing war crimes in ‘occupied’ Kashmir which the international community should take immediate notice of. He stated that every day dozens of Kashmiri youth are being gunned down outrageously in fake encounters and due the media blackout the world does not know the full extent of atrocities. The President informed that about 13,000 young Kashmiri boys have been taken away from their homes and are being kept in concentration camps in North India.

The British Parliamentarians and other speakers called for immediate end to siege and communication blackout in Kashmir. While they underlined need for substantive accountability measures for delivery of justice to Kashmiris, they also called for immediate intervention to stop Human rights abuses in J&K and sending of a fact finding mission also. The speakers said Kashmiri widows, half-widows and victims of torture need justice and the perpetrators of crimes against humanity should be punished.

Earlier in the day, the High Commission arranged a Photo Exhibition of the Kashmiri victims of Indian atrocities, which was visited by a large number of people. The High Commissioner briefed the media about major gruesome incidents of the mass killings, details of the atrocities documented by various international organisations, including the UN and international media. He responded to the media questions.