MIRPUR (AJK)

Britain-based Kashmir Development Foundation (KDF) has launched a campaign to stress a need for peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue.

Launching the campaign, Executive Director Sardar Aftab Khan said, “We have consulted with a wide range of community activists, academics and existing members of the parliament as part of the development of British Kashmiri Manifesto 2015. We are very pleased from the outcome of this citizen diplomacy engagement. We will make every effort to bring Jammu & Kashmir issue at the heart of British political debates during 2015 general election. We are very optimistic about the prospects of getting commitment from candidates across the political spectrum as a concrete expression of their support for the British Kashmiri community manifesto for social justice in the UK and peace in Jammu Kashmir.”

Khan added, “British Kashmiris and KDF volunteers are asking candidates from 10 major political parties to sign up firm commitment to support the Kashmiri community and the institutions in their efforts.” They want recognition and inclusion of Kashmiri national/ethnic Identity and most commonly spoken community language: Pahari in all the ethnic monitoring systems at local and national level in the UK to eliminate unlawful discrimination, socio-economic deprivation and inequality that exists within British Kashmiri Diaspora community as compared to other minority ethnic communities in the UK.

He said that they want extension of direct humanitarian aid for the victims of natural disasters in conflict-torn disputed Himalaan Jammu & Kashmir state. They also want investment in the development of infrastructure for peace, conflict transformation and decentralized and democratic system of governance in all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir by calling upon UK Government to continue to support indigenous peace building and conflict transformation initiatives in the valley to facilitate its peaceful settlement through dialogue and peaceful means; and specifically, ensuring that 30% of the UK International Aid given to Pakistan should be invested directly in Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

He added that they want empowerment of the voices of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the dialogue process as a principle stakeholder in any negotiations between India and Pakistan and international community to transform the conflict and the realisation of their inalienable right of self-determination.

He also said that they call upon the UN, EU and International Community to pressure 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 Line of Control (LoC).

He called for release of all the political prisoners and allowing the international humanitarian organisation to work across LoC to help reduce poverty, advance education, and health and wellbeing of the people across the valley.

Haji Akram Sattar, chairman of Kashmir Development Foundation, said: “We are very optimistic about the outcome of this indigenous British Kashmiri community initiative and for the first time we would have some firm commitments signed up by upcoming members of Parliament from all major political parties.”