Thursday, 29 May 2008

A Letter to Jack Straw, British Foreign Secretary

A Letter to Jack Straw, British Foreign Secretary
02 May 2002
Right Honourable Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Dear Jack Straw
Re: Kashmir dispute and threat of war between India and Pakistan

I appreciate your concern (and concern of other world leaders) about increased tension and escalation between India and Pakistan. Also I admire your efforts to mediate between the both countries to avert a war that could lead to a nuclear confrontation.

It is not the first time that the Indian and Pakistani forces are facing each other; and if the Kashmir dispute is not resolved amicably and according to the wishes of the people of Kashmir, it won't be the last time either. What Britain and the world community need to understand is that Kashmir dispute is the root cause of the tension and hostilities, and every effort should be made to resolve this core issue in order to have friendly and harmonious relationship in South Asia.

It must be noted that Kashmir is not a territorial dispute; therefore it cannot be resolved bilaterally. The people of Kashmir are the principal party to this dispute and they must be part of the resolution process whatever form or shape it takes.

Also it is important to emphasis that the Kashmiri struggle is not a 'terrorist struggle', it is a struggle for basic human rights which includes a right to self-determination, where people of Kashmir could decide if they want to accede to either India or Pakistan or have a united and independent Kashmir. I share your concern that during the course of this struggle certain events have taken place where innocent civilians have lost their lives, but blame for that could not be put on the Kashmiri Freedom fighters. In some cases Indian armed forces are directly responsible for these events; and in other cases people with 'terrorist mind' have committed these acts. And it is absolutely crucial that these people with 'terrorist mind' and with their own agenda are differentiated from genuine Kashmiri freedom fighters.

It is reported in the press that you have made certain negative remarks about the Kashmiri struggle and have called it 'terrorism'. I want to draw your attention to the UN General Assembly Resolutions 1514 and 1541 of 1960, which give the oppressed people a right to fight for their self -determination and independence. In our fight for independence, we Kashmiris are using our birthright, a right which was acknowledged by United Nations. Furthermore, because of actions of some individuals or groups (some of whom may not be even Kashmiris), it would be wrong to call the Kashmiri freedom struggle as a 'terrorist struggle'.

On behalf of the JKLF and the people of Kashmir I urge you to reconsider your stand on Kashmir. We have suffered enough and there is a very long and tragic history of our suffering. It is unfortunate to note that along this history of suffering we find the British input and involvement at critical junctures of our history; and I request you, for a change, make some positive contribution to alleviate the misery and suffering of the people of Kashmir. If this is achieved then it would go a long way in establishing peace and stability in South Asia; and if India and Pakistan are allowed to drift towards an armed conflict then I fear there will be trouble at your door steps as large South Asian communities settled in Britain would also be affected by this.

In view of the above I urge you to make note of the following:

1. As war is not a solution to the Kashmir dispute or even to resolve other issues, India and Pakistan must be pressurised to stop it;
2. The Kashmir dispute must be resolved through a process of dialogue between all the parties concerned;

3. An immediate attention should be given to issue of human rights which has worsened over the weeks. Whether a bomb is fired from one side of the LOC or the other, the victims are generally the Kashmiri people.
4. Kashmiri struggle for independence must not be confused with acts of terrorism. Whereas we condemn acts of terrorism wherever they take place, we have every right to continue our fight for unification and independence of the State of Jammu and Kashmir;
5. India and Pakistan have failed to resolve the core issue of Kashmir in bilateral talks, and in order to help and facilitate a resolution, a mechanism must be set up where international community have its input in it.

Yours sincerely

Shabir Choudhry
Head Diplomatic Committee of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (UK&Europe)

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