I welcome you and thank you all for giving us a positive response to our request of receiving your attention to our humble deliberations. In fact, the sole purpose behind this press briefing is to inform Pakistani nation about our efforts towards attaining international attention and support for the cause of right to self determination for Kashmiris of IJK. We have no big claims. But we can proudly say that our banner, International Council for Human Development (ICHD) and Kashmir Council-EU is today the face of the Kashmiris just struggle in Europe.
Needless to say, the European Union is so full of lobbyists from all across the world that it is very difficult to attain the attention from parliamentarians, policy and opinion makers, think tanks, civil society institutions, and above all, the general masses and media. This daunting task is possible only through transparency, honesty, spotless integrity and undeniable justness of the cause. I am extremely contented to say that above-mentioned virtues constitute the values of our organization. We are a self-financed group of human rights activists and peace lovers. We are struggling only with the confidence in the justness of our cause.
I can count many of our events during last three years that became the milestones of our struggle but here, considering the limited time that we have, I will mentioned only few of our recent activities that symbolize the nature and pattern of our past and future journey. In fact, we are lobbying at the highest levels of the European Union, we are pleading at the highest levels of the international human rights organizations and we are building awareness at the highest level of European academia. And through local media, we are making inroads into the general masses as well. This multi-layered approach is reflected through are activities.
For example, we started an unprecedented and unique campaign; One-Million Signature Campaign in 2011. As evident from the title, this campaign has set the target of receiving one million signatures of the European citizens for bringing the Kashmir at the agenda of EU. I feel immense pride to tell that we have already received around half of the targeted signatures. This happened only through the relentless efforts from our volunteers and friends especially of Kashmiri and Pakistani origins. We took our camps of numerous big cities of Europe. We contacted human rights organizations, social forums, trade associations, lawyer’s bodies, students, teachers, commuters and general masses. And in all this, we received immense support from the local European human rights activists and local European media. Today, this campaign resounds in every heart and mind of Kashmiri and Pakistani Diaspora.
Our recent Kashmir-EU week in the European Parliament was fourth event of its kind. This event is an example of our consistent advocacy and lobbying in the highest levels of the decision making forums of the EU. The Kashmir-EU week included high-level debates and dialogues including an exhibition, in EU parliament, of arts, crafts and intellectual resources from and about Kashmir. For painting exhibition, Ms. Jamila Saghri sent her works from Pakistan. Intellectuals, writers and researchers like Laura Schuurman came from Beijing University to attend the seminar. The acclaimed activists including Farooq Siddiqui came from Canada, well known passionate researcher and activist, Marjan Lucas came from Holland and policy analyst Sadia Mir came from UK. And amongst parliamentarians, there were Jean Lambert, MEP, Ivo Vajgl, MEP,
Tunne Kelam, MEP Timothy Kirkophe MEP and members of the committee of foreign affairs, Human Rights sub committee and Sajjad Haider Karim MEP, the host of the event. In fact, I must say that, it was astonishing even for us to see how passionately and clearheadedly those influential personalities spoke in favor of Kashmiris. I am in no mood to claim that these events shall give freedom to Kashmir but I will certainly claims that these are very important steps towards the achievement of our goal. We have a long journey ahead but every journey is consists of small steps and these steps constitute the real story of any struggle.
The third layer of our awareness building efforts is at the level of European academia that had been ignored by all of us for many decades. In fact, the real fight for the international influence is fought in the academia. Last month, we organized first ever symposium in the great university of Leuven, on the topic of Kashmir languishing under the brutal forces of India. I will not narrate here the story of how powerful Indian lobby did its best to get this event canceled or failed. But I will tell with my head high that we succeeded in doing one of the best organized symposium attended by a large number of students and media from different countries. The symposium was organized by the ICHD, Pakistani Students Forum and Politika International. Again, our friends Marjan Lucas, Sadia Mir, Gie Goris, the scholar on South Asia affairs and editor of the MO magazine and myself addressed the students. In the future, we shall definitely organize such events in other major universities of the Europe.
Even under duress, the IJK media gives huge coverage to our activities, which reflect how the look towards us to carry their aspirations, demands and dreams to the international agenda. The AJK media is always our strength as we are wielded in one single passion for truth and justice. But my real thanks go to the Pakistani electronic and print media. I must say that in the short time span of just three years, the Pakistani media has fought our war more than us. In fact, ICHD cannot exaggerate its gratitude to the Pakistani media. On behalf of our volunteers, supporters and fellow workers, I thank you all for magnifying our voice at unprecedented levels.
In the end, I have a little request to the present government. Being peace activists, we plead for the peace in South Asia and we make it the corner stone for our argument for the Kashmiri’s right to self determination. We are very happy that India and Pakistan are again coming closer and trying to sort out their conflicts on the table. We request you that in this fervor of friendship, please don’t forget the cornerstone of your struggle of last seven decades. Please don’t forget thousands of martyrs, thousands of rapes, murders and disappearances. And please don’t forget that Pakistan is the great support of hope for us, Kashmiris. I hope that the present government shall realize what I am saying on behalf of millions of my fellow Kashmiris at the both sides of the borders. I must say that we should not lose hope and trust in the justness of our cause and we should not abandon our historic struggle for this. Today, if Scottish people can achieve their goals, then Kashmiris also have the same rights as equal human beings.