South Asian News Agency
Washington, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director, Kashmiri American Council (KAC) said that once again, Kashmir is living proof that it is not going to compromise, far less abandon, its demand for Azaadi (freedom) which is its birthright and for which it has paid a price in blood and suffering which has not been exacted from any other people of the South Asian subcontinent. Fai said that the Board of Directors of the KAC in its 3-days meeting agreed to the following 18-points “Policy Statement” to be pursued during the fiscal year of 2011.
1. The Board clarified that the Kashmir dispute is simply this: the people of a large territory which is not part of any existing sovereign state were assured by the entire international community represented by the United States that they would be given the right of self-determination to decide their future by a free vote. Until now this assurance has not been honored;
2. The Board explained that there must be an early, just and durable resolution to the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions and in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir;
3. The Board noted with satisfaction the reiteration of President Obama on November 7, 2010 that “Kashmir is a longstanding dispute between India and Pakistan” and resolution of Kashmir is, “in the interests of the region; it is in the interests of the two countries involved and it is in the interests of the United States of America;”
4. The Board remains convinced that the people of Jammu and Kashmir constitute the principle stakeholders and should be an integral component of the ongoing peace process. Therefore, the talks must be tripartite between all parties concerned: i.e., the Governments of India & Pakistan and the legitimate leadership of the people of Jammu and Kashmir;
5. The Board voiced its continuing belief that India and Pakistan alone cannot solve the 64-year-old Kashmir conflict, it requires the deeper engagement of the United States with both these neighboring countries;
6. The Board reiterated that durable peace and development of harmonious relations and friendly cooperation between India and Pakistan would serve the vital interests of the peoples of both nations, enabling them to devote their energies for a better future;
7. The Board stressed that ‘Cricket Diplomacy’ and more trade between India and Pakistan will create a conducive atmosphere and must be appreciated but history testifies that it will do nothing to end the indigenous Kashmiri resistance against occupation, which is fueled by the denial of self-determination for more than 64 years;
8. The Board believes that moral suasion, not military force or violence, should be employed to resolve the Kashmir conflict. There cannot be a military solution of the problem; any such solution is bound to invite challenge. The Board rules out war as an option and calls upon all the parties to the dispute to work for a comprehensive cease-fire and bring every form of violence to an end to improve the environment for a constructive and progressive dialogue;
9. The Board made it clear that the Kashmir conflict is not about autonomy, nor is it about converting the ‘Ceasefire Line’ into an international border. It is about honoring the political and human rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir in accord with international law, international treaties, international covenants, justice and morality;
10. The Board appeals to both India and Pakistan to negotiate a treaty to create a nuclear weapons-free zone in all of Jammu and Kashmir because Kashmir being the only country in the world that shares borders with three nuclear powers – India, Pakistan & China;
11. The Board calls for an intensive and comprehensive inter and intra Kashmiri dialogue outside Sub-Continent between different opinions and regions of the state on both the sides of the Ceasefire line including Kashmiri Diaspora. This interaction will improve the level of trust and confidence, as it will also help to develop a consensus in the conflict resolution. The governments of India and Pakistan must facilitate the dialogue by issuing the travel documents to the participants;
12. The Board resolves that all internally and externally displaced people of Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 including Kashmiri Pandits, should be facilitated to return to their homes in safety and dignity;
13. The Board expresses grave concern over the conditions of militarization and inhumanity endured by the people of Kashmir, and the violation of their inalienable right to self-determination. The militarization has induced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, unlawful detentions, torture, phenomenon of half-widows, orphans, displacement, migrations, and mass graves;
14. The Board expressed its disbelief that non-violent, civil disobedience, including the prolific agitation that began in 2007 and is sustained until today, enacted by the people of Kashmir has been repeatedly met with brutal force and collective punishment by the Indian state.
15. The Board decided to continue to draw the attention of the international community toward the gross human rights atrocities committed by 700,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces in Kashmir;
16. The Board decided to pursue the case of Rt. Major Avtar Singh of Rashtriya Rifles (Indian paramilitary force deployed in Jammu & Kashmir), accused of brutally killing Jalil Andrabi, Chairman, Kashmir Commission of Jurists on March 27, 1996 in Srinagar, Kashmir.
17. The Board recommended that following steps need to be taken by the Government of India to make the peace process meaningful, i.e.,
i. Immediate and complete cessation of military and paramilitary actions;
ii. gradual withdrawal of the military presence from the towns and villages;
iii. dismantling of bunkers, watch towers and barricades;
iv. release of political prisoners languishing in jails, interrogation centers and detained under emergency laws, like Mian Abdul Qayyum, Ghulam Nabi Sumjee, Ghulam Nabi Shaheen, Musarat Alam, and many others;
v. annulling of various special repressive laws, like the Indian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSAPA), the Jammu & Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act; and
vi. restoring the right of peaceful association, assembly and demonstrations;
18. The board proposed that an appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir by the United Nations or the European Parliament or President Obama will hasten the process of peace and stability in the region of South Asia.