|Posted on September 10, 2014 at 5:25 PM|
In the United Kingdom, the House of Commons Select Committee has confirmed that backbench “General debate on political and humanitarian situation in Kashmir” will be held in Committee Room 10 on 11 September 2014. David Ward MP along with members of All Parties Parliamentary Committee (APPG) on Kashmir and a range of Kashmiri Diaspora Community organisations have been campaigning to secure a backbench debate in the House of Commons. He will be member in charge of this debate.
Kashmir Development Foundation (KDF) one of the leading Kashmiri community development organisation has circulated a briefing paper to members of Parliament welcoming British Parliamentarian support in empowering the voices of Kashmiri Diaspora and it is their hope that through this debate MPs will heighten the need for meaningful engagement of UK Government and international community for peaceful transformation of Kashmir conflict and urgent humanitarian assistance for victims of violent conflict and natural calamities in Jammu Kashmir. Such as recent rains and flash floods that in last two weeks left 450 people dead, the capital City Srinagar and over 2000 villages submerged in water in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, 64 people in Pakistan administered Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) and 11 in Gilgit Baltistan reported dead and 166 missing, 120 villages and 27, 700 people affected, 12 main bridges and 9 powerhouse were also destroyed in AJK and Gilgit Baltistan. The full scale of devastation and destruction is yet to be established. The victims of this natural disaster needs urgent help and assistance from international community for their relief and rehabilitation.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir are continuously suffering for more than 67 years as the collateral damage of the partition of British Imperial India in 1947 and subsequent wars between India and Pakistan over the sovereignty status of former princely State of Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in prolonged conflict despite UN mediated ceasefire and establishment of UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to resolve this conflict according to the wishes of the people. These sufferings multiplied in the aftermath of natural disasters such as 2005 Kashmir Earthquake and now in the last two weeks deadliest floods in living memory of the region.
An estimated 17 million people of Jammu and Kashmir are living their life in uncertainty for more than six decades under occupation. Their homeland is forcibly divided by India, Pakistan and China. Kashmir remains one of the most highly militarized regions in the world. People’s right to life, liberty and security of person in all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir is continuously at risk and over 100 thousand people have lost their lives in search of freedom and dignity since 1988. Enforced disappearances, arrests without charge and fair trial is order of the day. The Security Forces allegedly involved in crime against humanity have impunity from holding them to account under The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990.
Jammu and Kashmir is not a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, It is a question of the right of self-determination of a nation and freedom from five faces of oppression: violence, economic exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, and cultural imperialism of India and Pakistan.
The Kashmiri society is intrinsically an open and peaceful society where people from diverse religions and cultural heritage practice spirit of ‘Kashmiriyat’- multi-ethnic and multi-religious co-existence, mutual respect by fostering good relations among diverse people and communities. The people of Jammu Kashmir aspire to contribute in strengthening international peace and security through shared experience of a society where people right to life, liberty and security of persons is protected and they have civil liberties, social justice, equality, political pluralism, democratic and decentralised participatory governance, and equal chances for their social mobility; a homeland and society where everyone has equal opportunities for socio-economic development and freedom to trade across borders and continents.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir wish to re-unite their State and forcibly divided families across Line of Control (LoC) to live in peace as they have lived together for centuries. They want an open, democratic, peaceful and prosper homeland.
In order to achieve this goal they seek international community support to transform J&K Conflict in a manner that all stakeholders should feel compelled in ultimately resolving the issue through dialogue to end their sufferings so that tottering fabric of human civilisation get sustenance in Jammu Kashmir and in India and Pakistan.
The people of J&K are keen to see removal of all the barriers that restrict their freedom of speech, political economy and movement across LoC. They are looking forward to engage in a meaningful dialogue with both India and Pakistan for peace as an equal partner being principle party having title of ownership to their destiny and future status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Over half a million British Kashmiri Diaspora has serious concerns with regards to humanitarian crisis and on-going human rights violations, prolonged occupation and forcible division of their country of origin: Jammu and Kashmir.
Therefore, the members of KDF and Kashmiri diaspora community are asking their members of Parliament to join in calling upon UK Government to;
1- Assist in mobilising international community to extend direct humanitarian aid for the victims of natural disasters and violent conflict in Jammu Kashmir and issue an emergency disaster relief appeal through Disaster Emergency Committee.
2- Continue to support indigenous peacebuilding and conflict transformation initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir.
3- Invest in the development of infrastructure for peace, conflict transformation and decentralised and democratic system of governance in all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir to facilitate peaceful settlement of one of the deadliest conflict in South Asia through dialogue and peaceful means as envisaged in the UN Charter and UN Security Council and UNCIP resolutions viz-a-viz Jammu Kashmir, and
4- Impress upon Indian and Pakistani governments;
• to respect fundamental human rights of the people in their respective administered parts of Jammu and Kashmir by further enhancing confidence building measures (CBMs) to facilitate more free movement of civilians, humanitarian aid and Intra- Jammu & Kashmir trade and tourism across LoC.
• Free all political prisoners and allow international humanitarian organisation to work across LoC to help in reliving poverty, advancing education, and health and wellbeing of the people within all the regions of former princely State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Kashmiri diaspora Community and Kashmir Development Foundation (KDF) would welcome an opportunity to work more closely with the parliamentarian and international civil society and humanitarian organisations to follow up on the recommendations as an outcome of this debate to enhance more meaningful engagement with all stakeholders for peacebuilding and conflict transformation to secure fundamental freedoms, meaningful dialogue and cooperation among the people of Jammu and Kashmir and India and Pakistan.
About Author: Sardar Aftab Khan is the Executive Director of the Kashmir Development Foundation and can be contacted via E-mail: [email protected] or visit www.kdfajk.org and follow us on www.facebook.com/KDFUK.