The Pakistani American Congress (PAC) organised a congressional forum this week at the US capital to highlight the Indian atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). A series of speakers, mostly comprising of American citizens of Kashmiri origin spoke at length about the struggle for a right to self-determination and the severe human rights violations being carried out against their people by occupying Indian military and paramilitary forces.

“It is ironic,” wrote Shabir Ahmad Shah in a statement read out at the PAC forum, the President of the Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party, who is now in the 30th year of his imprisonment in J&K. He said, “more than 500 Indian states were given the right to determine their future but we were annexed through military occupation and for the last 70 years have been subjugated to live under constant fear for our lives.”

Just over the past few weeks, hundreds have died, and thousands more have suffered severe injuries in clashes with Indian forces. This recent killing spree by the Indian forces has been responded to by dozens of human rights organisations like Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch to condemn the Indian reign of terror in J&K.

Because of a total information blackout imposed in J&K by the Indian authorities, it has become very difficult to know what the latest developments are. The limited amount of information and images that are coming out of J&K show the brutal violence that the local population is being subjected to. The images and videos show tens of thousands of people chanting slogans, demanding their freedom from Indian occupation, being responded to by Indian forces with pellet guns, and baton charges.

The barbarism being committed by the Indian forces are so awful and horrific that they cannot be justly described in words. Riaz Ahmad Shah, a 23-year-old young man was viciously attacked and killed earlier this week, an autopsy revealed that a pellet gun was pushed up against his abdomen and a high capacity 300 round magazine was emptied right into his stomach. The use of pellet guns by Indian forces has caused so much human suffering in J&K that there is now an international effort to have them permanently banned.

Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has written to various world leaders, including to Pope Francis, asking for their intervention in the crisis. The ministry of Foreign Affairs has also issued a number of statements in the matter but more needs to be done.

The Government of Pakistan should cut all diplomatic ties and communications with the Indian government until they are ready to implement all 18 resolutions passed in the United Nations Security Council pertaining to the promise made to the people of Kashmir, a promise which grants them the right to self-determination.

Announcing a day of mourning for the Kashmiri people or issuing clanked statements is not enough. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should reach out to leaders of other Muslim countries and urge them to boycott India until the 13 million Kashmiri people living under Indian occupation are granted their basic human right, and are allowed a vote to determine their political future.

Islam teaches us that all life is precious; we must adhere to our Islamic teachings and traditions. We must do all that we can in a peaceful manner to ensure that the suffering in J&K in brought to an end.

The Kashmiri people are not demanding anything out of the ordinary, they just want to be treated with dignity and want their basic human rights restored. They want to be able to have freedom of expression, speech, and the right to practice their religion without living in fear for their lives. Mothers want their children to grow up with their fathers, and fathers want to see their sons grow up to become men, and have families of their own. The people of Kashmir are not asking for much, and it is our collective responsibility as fellow human beings to see and to the human suffering in Jammu and Kashmir.

History gives us hope; humanity has also united in an effort to end human suffering. During World War II, we united to end human suffering in Europe, let us unite once again to end the human suffering in Kashmir. It is time to act, everyday while we continue to debate this issue, dozens are being killed, and thousands are being seriously injured, raped, maimed, and robbed of their humanity.

Over 700,000 Indian troops occupy J&K today, three generations of Kashmiris have been forced to live in cruel, degrading, and inhumane conditions, and this is a conflict that has claimed over a million lives. This cannot be allowed to go on any longer. India must recognise that all human beings deserve the right to be treated humanely, with dignity and respect, and for this reason it must fulfill its promises to the Kashmiri people, and let them decide their own future.