An Open Letter To President Bush
From: Azhar A Shah
Dear Mr. President:
I have serious reservations about your recent actions in declaring some "freedom movements" as terrorist organizations. I am referring particularly to the Kashmiri freedom fighters.
Mr. President, you know very well the history of the Kashmir dispute. It was India who took the Kashmir issue to the United Nations and it was the Indian government of the time who agreed to the United Nations resolutions calling for a free plebiscite of the people of Kashmir under the auspices of the United Nations. There are countless statements of the Indian leaders from the then Prime Minister of India to the Indian representative to the U.N. to this effect. United States was a party to those resolutions. Both the democratic and republican administrations of the time voted for these resolutions in the UN security council.
Mr. President, you know very well that such a plebiscite was never held in the Indian occupied Kashmir. India used one pretext after another to thwart the will of the United Nations. In desperation and frustration, the people of Kashmir resorted to a struggle, both armed as well as civil disobedience, to try to force India to honor her pledges made not only to the UN, but also to the people of Kashmir. India responded by sending army troops to the Kashmir valley to suppress the people of Kashmir. In the last ten years as many as eighty thousand Kashmiris have been killed by the Indian army. Countless women have been raped by the Indian armed forces. Today as many as six hundred thousand Indian troops are stationed in Kashmir, who are engaged in the worst possible kind of terrorism in the state. India has steadfastly refused entry to foreign correspondents and other world organizations such as Amnesty International or the Red Cross. What is India trying to hide?
Mr. President, there is a vast difference between terrorism and struggle for independence. Let me remind you of the "Resistance Movements" of Europe under Nazi occupation. In all the countries under Nazi occupation in Europe, there were such resistance movements. These movements were engaged in acts of sabotage including the killing of the German occupation troops and their sympathizers. Your illustrious father fought in WWII, and he must be conversant with the history of such movements. Maybe he can refresh your memory. Today the members of these movements are revered in not only all of Europe but in Britain and the United States as well. They made a very valuable contribution in liberating their countries from Nazi occupation.
The freedom fighters in Kashmir and Palestine are carrying out the same struggle and yet you, Mr. President, are trying to classify them as terrorists. The members of the Resistance Movements in Europe must be turning in their graves at this turn of events. If these freedom fighters in Kashmir and Palestine are terrorists, then we must rewrite history and call all those resistance movements as terrorists as well. Remember, those Resistance Movements were fighting to free their lands from Nazi occupation, similarly the freedom fighters of Kashmir and Palestine are fighting to free their lands from illegal occupation by India and Israel respectively.
Mr. President, Freedom is a fundamental right and it cannot be conferred selectively. Yet we see that when a few million Christians struggled for freedom from Indonesia, the whole Western world came to their aid and within a matter of months they gained their independence. On the other hand the people of Kashmir and Palestine have been clamoring for their freedom for decades, yet we in the West have turned a deaf ear to their cries for freedom. This double standard must not be allowed to prevail.
Mr. President, we Americans believe passionately in freedom. Let us not confine it to our shores or to the people of one particular religion. Only then will your call for a fight against terrorism resonate and strike a responsive cord in human beings all over the world. Thank you.
Azhar A. Shah