After the Article 370 episode


Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad

PAKISTANI American Congress (PAC) USA held its International Summit at Capitol Hill, Washington DC. In a daylong event to commemorate the Annual Pakistan-US Friendship Day, high-ranking officials of the Pakistan Embassy and the US State Department, the US Congressmen/Congresswoman, international speakers and dignitaries of the us think-tanks, and a large number of members of the Pakistani community were present. Speakers at the event included Mr. Ervin Messing a Deputy Secretary Pakistan Desk in the State Department, Congressman Tom Suozzi from New York, Congressman Donald Norcross from New Jersey, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Professor Marvin Weinbaum of the Middle East Institute, Professor Mowahid Shah, Dr Imtiaz Khan, Dr. Khalid Jehangir, Senator Akbar Khwaja, President 4th Pillar Farooq Mirza. Press Minister Mr. Abid Saeed, Secretary Community Affairs Mr. Sheraz, and Mr. Ubaid Nazamani.The PAC is an umbrella entity of Pakistani Associations of North America, established in 1990 to promote goodwill between the people of the United States and Pakistan. It serves as a catalyst of social, educational, and political activities which promotes the interests and protects the civil rights & liberties of the Pakistani-American community in the US.
Its objectives are to help develop strong relationship between the governments and the people of United States and Pakistan, to preserve, protect and foster the Pakistani culture and heritage of the Pakistani community residing in the US, to promote, coordinate and conduct various activities and organize conventions and conferences for the advancement of the interests of Pakistani Americans to build a communications network among Pakistani Americans and their organizations nationwide. It also serves to coordinate their activities, and to function as an information clearinghouse, to develop resources of talent and expertise in order to help in the overall development effort of Pakistan and the Pakistani communities and to foster friendship, understanding and cooperation between Pakistanis and the American society at large and to promote and enhance the image of Pakistani Americans. The PAC under its visionary President Asad Chaudhary, Chairman Rana Taj and Secretary Aqeel Khan has started playing a very effective role. Mr. Asad Chaudhary and his team has given a new look to it by introducing important faces. When President 4th Pillar Farooq Mirza asked Congressman Tom Suozzi to make clear its stand on Kashmir dispute in a clear-cut way, he stated candidly that the world doesn’t support the Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue.
Naturally, Pakistanis got dismayed by Tom Suozzi’s statement on the lack of action by the world powers to help stop the carnage in Kashmir and their virtual indifference to the aggravating situation there. The disparity between their inaction and their repeated assertion that the protection of human rights and encouragement of democratic solutions are their major foreign policy goals is hard for us to understand. They fail to realize that what is at stake in the dispute is not only the survival of the people of Kashmir, but peace in the populous region of South Asia and also the basis of a civilized worldview. Let it be noted here that it is the same Congressman who in a letter to top US diplomat Mike Pompeo had said the action by the Indian govt in Kashmir “risks provoking mass social unrest…”
“These new restrictions on the autonomy of the State and the rights of Kashmiris could also embolden extremists and terrorists to act. “Kashmir must become a major focus of the administration” in the wake of the Narendra Modi government’s decision to revoke Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that provides for special status to Kashmir,” Tom Suozzi said in his letter. Saying that he was writing on the urging of “my Pakistani-American and Kashmiri-American constituents,” who he said “long brought the issue of Kashmir to my attention,” Suozzi, who represents the 3rd Congressional District in New York that includes parts of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties, all of which comprise significant Indian, Pakistani and South Asian American populations, said in his letter that he was gravely concerned “over the current situation in Kashmir and Jammu—a potential flashpoint for conflict between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan, who have a long history of tension and war.”
“Now,” he informed Pompeo, “I am concerned that Prime Minister Modi’s recent actions in Kashmir have contributed to tension which is now higher than ever and Kashmir must become a major focus of the Administration.” Suozzi warned, “This action by the Indian Government risks provoking mass social unrest, as the people of Kashmir have long sought greater autonomy, freedom, and the opportunity for self-determination,” and predicted that “these new restrictions on the autonomy of the State and the rights of Kashmiris could also embolden extremists and terrorists to act.” He also wrote that “many experts warn that the Modi Government’s move could embolden Hindu nationalists to engage in acts of violence and discrimination against India’s minority religious groups, including Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, who are facing increasing attacks throughout the country.” Upset by the letter, several Indian-Americans, who constitute a significant part of Tom Suozzi’s Congressional District in New York and had played a key role in his election and fund raising, shot him several angry messages. In an unprecedented move, a US Congressman had to apologize to Indian-Americans for not consulting them before writing a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to express his concerns on human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre scrapped its special status.
Now the question is where does all this leave Pakistan? After the Article 370 episode, Islamabad has gone full steam trying to highlight the Kashmir issue at the global level. True, the Kashmiris are heartbroken, but hasn’t Pakistan ridden the Kashmir horse and fell off it several times in the past several decades? How long can Pakistan carry on with this solitary practice of ‘enlightening’ the world of Indian atrocities in Kashmir? How many more millions of dollars will it take to halt Pakistan’s efforts to promote a cause that no one other than Pakistan seems to care about? If anything, the more Pakistan tries to help out the Kashmiris, the more India retaliates and muzzles the poor population of the Valley. God help Kashmiris.
—The writer is former Federal Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.

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