Strangely, a US congressional sub-committee on government reform decided to conduct a hearing on the Kashmir issue. While it is not clear what Kashmir has to do with reform of the American government it is even more baffling that the hearing included a representative of the now-defunct Khalistan movement. Apart from Rep. Gary Ackerman and veteran journalist Selig Harrison, the choice of witnesses (and a glaring omission of witnesses from Jammu & Kashmir) suggests that the sub-committee was fishing for things it could pin on India. The honourable congressmen were probably delivering on a promise made to Pakistani lobbyists.
And the usual representative from Amnesty International was present to paint all sides black.
T Kumar of Amnesty International urged that human rights should be at the centre of all the discussion on Kashmir. India, he stressed, should release all prisoners of conscience, end human rights abuses, ensure that all abuses were promptly and independently investigated, and allow international human rights organisations to visit Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan, he added, should allow freedom of expression and stop abuses under preventive detention. Collectively, both India and Pakistan should place human rights concerns at the centre of any attempt to resolve the Kashmir issue, respect international humanitarian law and ensure that the needs of the many tens of thousands of displaced people are met. He asked armed opposition groups to respect international humanitarian law that prohibits deliberate or indiscriminate attacks on civilians and those not taking part in hostilities, stop torture and killing of unarmed civilians and stop using anti-personnel weapons. [Daily Times]
To have even a wee bit of credibility, Amnesty International should have pointed out the role of Pakistani jehadis in terrorist activities. Interestingly, Amnesty International has chosen to term the jehadi terrorists ‘armed opposition groups’, and humbly requested them to stop attacking civilians. It is precisely because of such a duplicitous approach to human rights that organisations like Amnesty International fail to make a wider impact on society.
The sub-committee of the 108th House committee on government reform has just wasted time, money and credibility. Worse, its approach has done nothing to improve America’s own security or to help put a stop to the violence in Kashmir.
Update: How Rep. Dan Burton surreptitiously held a hearing irrelevant to the mandate of his sub-committee. The hearing was not published on the official website at all. The brief press release says nothing beyond tossing insinuations. Just how much was Burton paid for staging this muppet show?