MPs, Experts Urge US On Kashmir Solution, End To Killings, HR Violations

6 July 2009
Associated Press of Pakistan

Washington DC: Highlighting the ‘inseparable’ linkage between settlement of Kashmir question and lasting peace in South Asia, European legislators and top experts on Sunday urged the United States to help step up efforts towards resolution of the UN-recognized dispute. Speaking at a conference on ‘Kashmir Issue Centrality of Kashmiris’ Rights,’ they were also one in emphasizing the rightful inclusion of Kashmiri voice in Pakistan-India dialogue to resolve the decades-old conflict in accordance with wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Deputy Speaker of the Norwegian Parliament Ola Lanke, Lord Nazir Ahmed, Member British House of Lords, and Kashmiri scholars Dr Ghulam Nabi Mir and Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai particularly agreed on the need for American and European lawmakers to help end blatant violations of human rights in the Indian occupied Kashmir. As an expression of their concern over unspeakable atrocities inflicted upon Kashmiri civilians, Lord Ahmed suggested members of US Congress, the Norwegian Parliament and the British Parliament should bring out reports on human rights situation in IOK just as they have done in the case of conflicts elsewhere. ‘Time has come - we all know how bad the situation is in Kashmir. The world must do what it can to encourage a fair settlement of Kashmir,’ said the Norwegian parliamentary leader. Lanke reminded President Barack Obama of his pre-2008 polls pledge to help resolve Kashmir dispute. He invoked the metaphor of Africans around the world seeing realization of their dreams in Obama’s election, and said the history-making U.S. president should pay attention to the South Asian tensions that demand ‘high-level’ attention. The deputy speaker cited Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s call for US role toward resolution of the issue and felt ‘the opinion is getting momentum’ on the need to move forward for a peaceful resolution of the issue. ‘The negotiations (between Pakistan and India) should be firmly anchored and must have a representative of Kashmir,’ he stressed. The seasoned lawmaker said several members of the Norwegian parliament have raised the issue of human rights violations in Kashmir. ‘The access of humanitarian aid should be allowed to Indian Kashmir-we are concerned over discovery of mass graves on the Indian side of Kashmir and (believe) an independent investigation should be conducted,” he said. In his speech, Lord Nazir Ahmed made an impassioned call for immediate end to the sufferings of the Kashmiris. He condemned the killing of ordinary Kashmiris and their daily humiliation at the hands of Indian security forces. ‘We talk about mass graves in various parts of the world- there were some in Iraq- the United Nations should also look into mass graves in Kashmir, and the U.S. congress should hold a hearing on the issue of mass graves in Kashmir.’ ‘There is a hope if we can go to Darfur and meet relatives of victims, if we can take notice of Gaza, Ramalah-similarly the US Congress should liste to the victims of oppression and rape (in Occupied) Kashmir.’ He argued that the issue of untold Indian excesses against Kashmiris should not be confused with any other issue. In the regional context, he condemned last year’s Mumbai bombings but drew attention to the questions often raised about Indian role in a spate of terrorist attacks in Pakistan.‘We also need to know who is providing equipment to Tehreek Taliban Pakistan-we need investigation into this issue as well.’ ‘The Kashmiris have suffered more than any other nation - it is important lawmakers in United States, London and Norway come up with reports on their plight.’ Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, head of Washington-based Kashmiri-American Council, called for appointment of a US special envoy in accordance with President Obama’s promise. He laid out four aspects that must characterize talks between Pakistan and India if they are to be meaningful: the talks should have clearly defined parameters; should be time-bound; must take into account wishes of Kashmiri people through their representation; and India must bring to an end the killings of the Kashmiris. Dr Ghulam Nabi Mir, President World Kashmir Freedom Movement, said India has tried to silence Kashmiris for decades through heinous means. “India has attacked its neighbor (Pakistan) three times-spent billions on its offensive budget, put 600,000 soldiers plus in a small valley - but it can never succeed in making Kashmir its integral part.” He opposed former President Pervez Musharraf’s approach to resolving the Kashmir dispute, saying New Delhi would never have reciprocated Islamabad’s overtures for a solution.