Kashmir Solidarity Day observed in
(By: Mohammed Ali, Canberra -Photography: Masood Ahmad Lodhi)
Kashmir Solidarity Day was observed in Australia on Sunday, 5 February 2012, under the auspices of Kashmir Solidarity Council, Canberra. The day was observed to express complete solidarity with the people of Kashmir in their just cause of seeking right of self determination, as envisaged in the relevant UN resolutions.
The highlights of the day were a seminar preceded by a photo exhibition, self speaking of the dismal situation in the disputed Kashmir over the last sixty years. The panel discussion following the formal speeches witnessed the emotion of ‘HOPE’ overcoming the discontent of speakers at the ignorance of the issue by the world, especially the western world including the United Nations.
The event attended by Canberrans belonging to different origins and walks of life was poised by the presence of High Commissioner of Pakistan, Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan, an Ex-High Commissioner of Pakistan, Defense Attaché of Pakistan, An Ex-Defense Attaché of Pakistan, President Pakistan Australia Friendship Association Canberra, President Pakistan Cultural Association Canberra, President Forum Australia, President Bazm-e-Adab (Urdu Literary Society) Canberra, Vice President, Canberra Multicultural Community Forum and other dignitaries.
Addressing the gathering Mr Khizar Hayat Khan Niazi, Retired High Commissioner of Pakistan in Australia, expressed his dismay that the issue of Kashmir was for the last sixty years left completely ‘ignored’. He questioned the notion of national interests of the countries, especially at the expanse of moral values, which was hampering the resolution of Kashmir issue. Walking down the memory lane, Mr Niazi provided historical background of the issue arguing that unlawful annexation of Kashmir was in utter violation of the principle agreed at the time of creation of Pakistan. “When the principle agreed was that Muslim dominated areas would be part of Pakistan then why Kashmir was left out of it”, he questioned.
Sharing her views with the audience, Ms Diana Abdur Rehman, Vice President, Canberra Multicultural Community Forum, expressed her grief at the selective role of media in publicizing the issues such as Kashmir. She proposed that the Muslim world, particularly its youth, should take advantage of modern communication technologies like face book and twitter, and take on themselves to make the world know of the dreaded situation in Kashmir, and for that matter in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. She also expressed her discontent at the role of the Australian government in not supporting the cause of Kashmiris as it should have. “Why we Muslims (only) do it (support such causes) because no one else does it, she concluded.
Other speakers at the seminar, Mr Iqbal Khan, founder member and current executive of Kashmir Solidarity Council, Ms Velia Zahoor, A young voice form Canberra, and
Prof.Mrs. Khalida Qureshi, President Urdu Literary Society, also emphasized that free world must come forward to help resolve the age old issue which is plaguing the generations of Kashmiris and has a potential of irreversibly affecting the region given both India and Pakistan are now nuclear powers. Ms Velia questioned ‘Why Kashmiris have been reduced to a slave status in their own homeland?’ Mr Iqbal, a Kashmiri by origin, noting the long and bleak history of the region, called for asking Kashmiris with out any further delay ‘What they want?’. The core problem he said was not territorial; rather it was freedom of expression and justice, purely human values.
The panel discussion that followed formal speeches heard Mr Babar Virk, an Ex-Defense Advisor of Pakistan High Commission Canberra, advocating the need to redefine the terms ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘terrorists’. Those who were fighting for their rights and for their survival, how could they be labeled as terrorists was the deep seated discontent at the bottom of his advocacy.
That Kashmir Solidarity Council should broaden its role in increasing awareness of the issue to all Australians, a comment from Mr Khawar Saleem, was accepted with thanks by the Kashmir Solidarity Council Executive members. Mr Mohammed Ali, and guest speaker Diana Abdur Rahman in response to this comment offered that they were prepared to spread the knowledge of the issue through the radio programs they do in Canberra beside their off and on appearance on various form and platforms engaging general people.
Kashmir Solidarity Council, Canberra, was established eleven years ago by a group of likeminded peace loving people in Canberra including Dr Naimat Cheema, Iqbal Khan, Javed Butt and Mohammed Ali. The group acknowledged the support offered by all peace loving people of Canberra and wider Australia. The group also extended its sincere thanks to the ABC 666 radio, the Canberra Times, Sada-e-Watan Sydney, Rabitah International Sydney, Oziforum, and various other communication outlets that have supported the cause of the Kashmir Solidarity Council over the years.
Mr Mohammed Ali appended his vote of thanks at the end of the evening with the word ‘HOPE’. In response to a comment that the issue of Kashmir might never resolve, he said that there were examples of issues being resolved such as East Timore, as indicated by Diana. He further said that we do not leave a position or effort just because it looked impossible to be sustained. ‘That must rather fuel our passion to continue working for the resolution of the issues that we are striving for’. HOPE, he said was central to the philosophy of life whether it was birth of a new baby, or springing of a new spring season after a long and dry autumn.
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