MUZAFFARABAD: The decades-old dispute between Pakistan and India over the Himalayan region of Kashmir has been a nuclear flashpoint in South Asia. The international community has been reluctant to play its role for the resolution of the dispute despite repeated calls from the Kashmiri people. On the eve of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India, some 4,000 Kashmiri children wrote a touching letter to him.
“On behalf of the children of the divided state of Jammu and Kashmir, we, the members of Kashmir Children Assembly (KCA), draw your kind attention towards the unrelenting atrocities, oppression and torture of Kashmiris by the Indian troops. The draconian laws, which give sweeping powers to the occupation forces to catch and kill any innocent Kashmiri with impunity, have turned the disputed Himalayan region into a living hell,” reads the letter.
“Growing up under the shadow of fear and terror, Kashmiri children are the worst victims of the conflict and their majority is suffering from serious psychological disorders,” it further reads.
The letter was read by the children at a news conference in the capital of Azad Kashmir.
“The children of Kashmir are deprived of an environment conducive to their proper upbringing and overall development. Their education has become the first casualty of this conflict as the educational system, already at low ebb, has almost collapsed during the last four months. The security of the school-goers is at high risk.”
Addressing President Obama, they said, “Since you are visiting India next month, the KCA seizes the opportunity to draw your kind attention towards this issue with a firm hope that you will do something concrete to bring peace in the lives of the Kashmiri children. And it goes without saying that peace which we pray and crave for hinges on a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue.”
“In order to convey their innocent feelings and wishes to you, though in broken words, around 4,000 Kashmiri children have written you letters in English and Urdu which we wish should reach you, so that you know how many hopes they have pinned on your forthcoming visit,” the letter read.
“We, the children of Jammu & Kashmir request His Excellency Mr Barack Obama, the US president, to recall his pledge which he had made with his nation and the world community to lead for bringing change in US policies regarding the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue,” they added.
The campaign to write letters to President Obama was organised by the Sawera Foundation through the Kashmir Children Assembly.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2010.