In Sydney, Australia, on August 8th, an International Kashmir Conference was arranged by the ‘Australian Forum for Kashmir’ (AFK) in collaboration with the Consulate General Office of Pakistan. This event was commemorated to mark the fourth anniversary of India’s imposition of a siege on Kashmir.
Rab Nawaz, the Coordinator of the Australian Forum for Kashmir, conveyed genuine gratitude and deep appreciation to all the virtual participants, notably mentioning Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai from the USA and Dr. Waleed Rasool, who shared their insights during the webinar. Rab Nawaz underlined that AFK is dedicated to persistently backing and advocating for the Kashmiri population in Australia. Furthermore, he affirmed AFK’s commitment to expanding this assistance by collaborating with various organizations operating globally.
Rab Nawaz also recognized the dedicated efforts of Muhammad Ashraf, Consulate General of Pakistan in Sydney, and Saima Jamil, Deputy Consulate General of Pakistan in Sydney, along with their teams. Their effective advocacy for the Kashmir cause within the Australian public arena was duly acknowledged.
Usaid Khalil, the Secretary General of the Islamic Forum for Australian Muslims, expressed unwavering solidarity with the oppressed inhabitants of Indian-occupied Kashmir. He emphasized the critical importance of addressing the Kashmir situation, citing grave human rights violations perpetuated by the Indian army with impunity. Usaid highlighted India’s enactment of Draconian laws aimed at altering Kashmir’s predominantly Muslim character to a minority character, thereby stressing the international press and NGO reports that underline the systematic and officially sanctioned nature of these human rights violations.
Usaid Khalil expressed his pride as an Australian Muslim, highlighting the country’s commitment to equal rights and opportunities for all. However, he voiced his disappointment regarding the Australian government’s warm reception of Narendra Modi, the figure responsible for the tragic Gujarat massacre where more than 2000 Muslims lost their lives. Usaid questioned whether the government is aware that Modi’s US visa was revoked in 2005 due to his involvement in the massacre of Muslims in Gujrat. He called upon the Australian government to uphold principled values, akin to the stand taken in the 1950s at the United Nations, and urge the Modi government to honor its commitment to Kashmir’s people – the right to self-determination.
Usaid Khalil demanded that India provide unrestricted access to international NGOs and media in Kashmir for an accurate assessment of the situation. He urged the release of political prisoners and the repeal of Draconian laws. Usaid reaffirmed the dedication of IFAM in mobilizing public opinion regarding the Kashmir situation.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, noted that each time India has undertaken unilateral actions, the global community has consistently dismissed them. He conveyed his genuine gratitude to the Government of Australia for its role as a co-sponsor of UN Security Council Resolution #122 (1957). This resolution emphasizes that any independent action by the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly cannot replace the fundamental principle of the people’s rightful determination.
Dr. Fai further mentioned that the statement made by Sir Edward Ronald Walker on January 24, 1957, is well-documented. Walker stated, “The Australian delegation enters upon this discussion with a deep sense of responsibility, for the people of Australia have followed this problem of Kashmir with great anxiety and concern. The sole interest of the Australian Government in this matter is to do what we can to assist the parties to find a just and mutually acceptable solution of this problem.” Dr. Fai expressed optimism that the administration of the esteemed Anthony Albanese would uphold this principle.
He reiterated that despite ongoing oppression, the people of Kashmir remain steadfast in their aspiration for self-determination. Their commitment to attaining freedom is unyielding, and they are determined not to give up this right. This is why they aim for greater understanding and acknowledgment from global powers, including Australia, regarding their cause.
Dr. Waleed Rasool, a Professor at Riphah International University and Director General of the ‘Institute of Multi-Track Dialogue, Development, and Diplomatic Studies,’ remarked that the course of events, starting from India’s occupation, annexation, and settler colonization after August 5th, 2019, constitutes a fresh hegemonic scheme. This design has pushed the nation of Kashmir to the brink of extinction. Given the seriousness of the situation, it is imperative for the leadership of Kashmir, both within the region and overseas, to engage in self-examination and proper assessment.
Dr. Waleed Rasool further emphasized that those of us in the Kashmiri diaspora stand with the residents of occupied Kashmir in their struggle against the dehumanization and mistreatment inflicted by the Indian government. He urged the Australian government to play a leading role by urging the Modi Administration to uphold the principles of the UN Charter. This includes enabling the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination. Additionally, he appealed to the peace-loving global community to advocate for the oppressed people of Kashmir, who have endured Indian occupation for the past 76 years.
Serving as the emcee of the webinar, Ms. Saima Jamil, Deputy Consul General, and an experienced diplomat, led the proceedings. During her opening statements, she highlighted that on August 5, 2019, the Government of India took a unilateral step, revoking Articles 370 and 35A, a move that defied UN Security Council resolutions. “India also resorted to a series of other illegal actions, including the enactment of Domicile Law which is designed to change the demography of Kashmir. The United Nations Special Rapporteurs are on record to have said that Indian Army is committing human rights atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir.”, she added.