Kashmiris flex political muscles in massive London demo
9 July 2000
The News International
From Aamir Ghauri
LONDON: Kashmiris and Pakistanis in Britain were asked by their leaders on Sunday to ally themselves at the next general election to parties and people who support the cause of Kashmiri self-determination rather than those who abandon them once in power. Addressing thousands of Kashmiris gathered at Trafalgar Square to express their solidarity with the people of held Kashmir, leaders from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) asked the Azad Kashmir community to form a joint strategy for the general elections, which could be called next year and act as a united block.AJK Prime Minister Barrister Sultan Mahmood, who has been recently visiting European capitals and various British cities and towns with substantial Pakistani-Kashmiri presence, emphasised the need for international intervention to stop Indian atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir and avoid a nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan. APHC General Secretary Ghulam Mohammed Safi said the Kashmiris felt cheated by the Labour Party which lured the British Pakistani-Kashmiri community to vote for it by expressing a commitment to help solve the Kashmir problem once in power. ''There is no difference between Labour Party and India. Both have gone back on their words and promises made to find a peaceful and lasting solution of the Kashmir issue.''Addressing the gathering, Mohammad Sarwar MP said the Kashmiri struggle would not end ''until Kashmir is free of Indian occupation''. He said Kashmiris would fight against the Indian attempt to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. ''We''ll never accept that. India cannot and should not be allowed to become a permanent member of the UNSC as it is the worst human rights violator. Over 70,000 Kashmiri people including men, women and children have been butchered by the Indian security forces''. Sarwar asked the Pakistani-Kashmiri community in Britain to make it very clear to their parties that their vote would swing to favour those ''who favour us''. Earlier, the procession that consisted of thousands of Kashmiris reached No 10 Downing Street via Parliament Square to present a petition to the British prime minister. The petition, signed by over 100,000 British-Pakistanis and Kashmiris, was presented to No 10 by the AJK Prime Minister Barrister Sultan Mahmood and Secretary General All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Ghulam Mohammed Safi. It called for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions as agreed in the Simla Agreement; condemned the continuing massive human rights violations of the people of occupied Kashmir and called for their immediate cessation; called upon political leaders to make an honest effort in the new millennium to work collectively toward ending suffering and abuse of Kashmiri people and pave the way for a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the issue in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people; noted that Britain bears a special responsibility to bring a peaceful, democratic, just and lasting solution to the problem for reasons of history - and because of the innate fairness of the British people and their consistent and principled support for all good causes everywhere in the world; and called upon the Labour Party to fulfil promises made to the British Kashmiris.