NEW YORK: Pakistan will stand-by Kashmiri people until they achieve freedom from India, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail said Friday, and he urged Pakistani community members to step up their efforts to inform their fellow Americans, including congressional leaders, about the gravity of situation in Indian occupied Kashmir, now under repressive lockdown for over a month.
"The Kashmir issue is on the top of Prime Minister Imran Khan's agenda," he told a largely-attended meeting held to mark the "Defence and Martyrs Day', which was also observed as "Kashmir Solidarity Day".
The commemorative meeting was held at the Pakistani Consulate General in New York, where Consul General Ayesha Ali welcomed Governor Ismail, who is currently on visit to the United States for the Pakistan Investment Conference 2019.
"Let Kashmiris know, they’re not alone!," the governor, who was the chief guest at the event, told the gathering.
Since August 5 when India annexed occupied Kashmir, residents of the valley have been living under strict curfew and other crippling restrictions. By stripping held Kashmir of its special status, New Delhi blocked its right to frame its own laws and allowed non-residents to buy property in the valley. More than 4,000 people have been detained since Aug 5.
The governor, who is leading a businessmen delegation, told the gathering that Kashmir was not just a territorial issue between Pakistan and India. It was an issue of human rights of oppressed 14 million Kashmiris. "That is why the whole world must intervene," he said.
On its part, Pakistan will continue to extend its moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir in their struggle for their UN-pledged right to self-determination.
He called upon the international community to take immediate notice of the human rights violations in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and play its effective role in resolving the issue of Kashmir in line with the aspirations of Kashmiri people and the United Nations resolutions.
The governor said during his visit to Washington he also met some Congressional leaders whom he briefed on the deteriorating situation in Kashmir. He said they promised to write a letter to President Donald Trump on the violations of Kashmiri people's human rights and fundamental freedoms.
They also said they would work on introducing a resolution seeking an end to India's lockdown of Kashmir and ending the communication blockade.
In his remarks, Governor Ismail paid tribute to the resilience of the Pakistani people and the courage and sacrifices of the armed forces in defending the homeland against threats to Pakistan's independence and sovereignty. "The entire nation owes them a debt of gratitude."
He also briefed Pakistan-Americans about the progress being made in Pakistan in all sectors under the "honest and courageous" leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has just completed one year in office. Intense efforts were being to fix the economy and to put it back on track.
The governor thanked them for showing their love and support to Imran Khan during his visit to Washington last month. The huge arena event was not only a morale booster for PM Khan, but also made huge impact on the Americans leadership and people.
Earlier, Consul General Ayesha Ali highlighted the significance of the Defence Day, saying, " Today, we offer our gratitude and we salute their (armed forces') bravery and sacrifice."
Referring to the situation in occupied Kashmir, Ayesha Ali said that Kashmir was not an internal issue of India; It is an international issue as the UN Security Council has primary responsibility to maintain world peace and security.
The August 16 meeting of the 5-member Council was a recognition of the gravity of the situation in Kashmir and its implications for regional and international peace and security.
"The gravity of the situation demands immediate action, including complete lifting of curfew, lifting of restrictions on movement , peaceful assembly, provision of food and medical supplies, and release of all political prisoners."
The consul general urged Pakistani-Americans to remain vocal and engaged on the Kashmir issue. "Make yourself heard. Bring it to the attention of your elected officials.
"Silence is no longer an option as Kashmiris suffer at the hands of occupying forces."
Pakistan's Deputy Consul General in New York, Naeem Iqbal Cheema, conducted the proceedings.