Ahead of Kashmir week in the Parliament this week, I spoke with journalists in the UK about why Kashmir week is happening and my involvement with this human rights issue. A selection of the questions I was asked are below:
Please tell the Asian World readers why you are helping the cause for occupied and Jummu Kashmir?
The reason why I am in politics is about self-determination. I’m actively campaigning for a Referendum for the British people to decide their future on whether they wish to stay in the European Union or not. But the cause of Jammu and Kashmir has been going on since 1948 when they were promised a referendum, and that’s why I feel there are parallels in what I’m in politics for in the first place and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Why do you think about the horrendous human right violations in the region and why it is not getting any air time in the media and little assistance from the international community?
I feel absolutely shocked at the level of violence in the area and the border killings. I feel the reason that it isn’t getting any media is probably the politics of convenience. It’s a fact that the major powers have a problem in confronting India due to India’s growing economic strength and everybody wishes to stay on friendly terms with India. I would say that if they are our best friends and India are among our best friends in the world, you are no better friend to someone than if you actually tell them the truth. If you can’t tell your friends the truth, they aren’t friends at all. It’s about time we actually confronted India and said there is a dispute in this area and for them to ignore it is wholly wrong. I think that’s why people are afraid on this issue and the example would be Barack Obama. When he first stood for the Presidency of the United States, he said this is one of the most important issues that needs attention, and yet when he was seeking re-election he just simply said that it was for India and Pakistan to sort out between themselves. I think he’s wholly wrong in that and it’s for the international community to take a strong stance on this.
What advice would you give to desperate Kashmiris wanting to actively do something to help people in Jummu Kashmir?
These situations are obviously very difficult. What I would say to everyone is to raise awareness; especially in these days of the internet. You can lobby politicians; members of the European Parliament, Members of the UK Parliament, Senators and Congressmen. It is about utilising the message actively – use social media. We’ve had the example of the Arab Spring; which was set up by the use of social media. The overthrow of the regime in Egypt was because of social media. I advocate peaceful demonstration and it’s about keeping the message there, and not allowing the politics of convenience continue and making it awkward for the politicians who are making the decisions.
What else have you done in the plight for Jummu and Kashmir?
Obviously I feel very humble. I’m using the power that I have to raise the issue, there are half a million Kashmiri’s here in the United Kingdom that includes a significant amount here in the West Midlands, I feel it’s my duty to represent those interests in the European Parliament. This is why I’m hosting the Kashmir week next week (May 27th – 30th). I plan to visit Kashmir in January, again it’s the same message; it’s about highlighting. It’s about highlighting the situation and hopefully making it awkward and difficult for those people who are actually making the decisions.
Why is the British Government and Europe not doing more to help?
Once again it’s the politics of convenience. It’s because of the ever- growing economic might of India and we should be much stronger. There is no doubt we should be much stronger. Hopefully the events and what we are doing highlights to the people in power that we should be doing more.
What is the reason for hosting this summit in Brussels and what do you hope to achieve?
It’s once again all about the message. It’s the highlighting of issues. Its about standing up and having the courage to say what is going on here is wrong, this has gone on far too long and it’s about time the people of Jammu and Kashmir had the right of self-determination. Wherever you are in the world, if you live in a free country, how can any of us be free when there are other humans on this planet who are being oppressed from having self-determination? I’m hoping it’s going to achieve publicity. The fact that media outlets are contacting me will generate publicity for the cause and will hopefully encourage others to get involved on this issue.