Iftaar dinner in Washington to remember oppressed people of Kashmir

Washington, DC. April 9, 2023 (tarkeen e watan) World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF) organized an Iftaar dinner to express its appreciation to the brethren of Azad Kashmir ancestry, Pakistani Americans and friends of Kashmir for their continued support. The board has experienced their dedication, commitment, and generosity over the years to strengthen the cause of Kashmir in corridors of power here in Washington, DC, New York and beyond. The event was held at Namak Mandi Restaurant, Falls Church, Virginia where the leadership of Kashmiri and Pakistani community was in attendance. Umer Khalil recited the verses from Quran and Javaid Kousar, a well-known journalist in DC metropolitan area offered salutation on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Imam Naeem Baig, National Coordinator, “Religions for Peace USA’ highlighted the importance of Ramdhan. He said, “We thank Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, for blessing us with another Ramadan so that we become closer to Him, our Creator. This month-long training program that we know as Ramadan is to intensify our relationship with Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. We abstain, which is the literal meaning of Sowm from eating, drinking and spousal intimacy from dawn until sunset because Allah has commanded us to do so. That is what Ramadan is all about, learning the art of abstaining from committing haram, learning how to control and discipline ourselves from not harming others with our words, actions and/or behavior.

Imam Naeem added that one of the name of Allah, is As-Samad, The Self Sufficient, that means that Allah is not in need of anyone but everyone needs Allah. Imam Al Ghazali, says that fasting produces a semblance of the divine quality of samadiyyah (freedom from want) in a human being. And we build in ourselves this quality of serving others, standing up for their rights if they are being oppressed and persecuted. So let us strive for the freedom of our brothers and sisters in Kashmir and Palestine. Let us stand against oppression and fight for Justice and Peace.

Dr. Ghulam N. Mir, President, World Kashmir Awareness Forum thanked the guests of this special Iftar dinner in this holy month of Ramadan. He said that to tonight we want to thank a very special and unique relationship between the people of Azad Kashmir and the Indian Occupied Kashmir. No two communities in the world enjoy such a loving relationship. People in the Occupied Kashmir are ever so grateful to the people of Azad Kashmir and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people living under Indian tyranny. Together we will continue our peaceful struggle for freedom and Indian decolonization of the occupied Kashmir. We need to redouble our efforts.

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General of WKAF also thanked the audience for their support and guidance during the past more than four decades in the United States. We salute your selfless commitment & dedication to the cause of Kashmir, he said. Today, the world powers do not utter a word to stop brutality and viciousness prevailing in the Vale of Kashmir – once known as paradise on earth. Therefore, we feel compelled to knock the corridors of power in Washington, and elsewhere and urge them to explore all humane and reasonable avenues to deliver the people of Kashmir from a suffering that has lasted now for more than seven decades. We cannot do it without the support of our Azad Kashmir brothers and sisters, Fai added.

During his remarks, Mowahid Hussain Shah, Attorney-at-Law, Of Counsel to late US Senator James Abourezk, highlighted the significance of never giving up and the dangers of a defeatist mindset which can lead to indifference and inaction. Mowahid said despite heavy odds the spirit of Kashmiri resistance movement is unbroken. Its struggle is essentially a relentless striving for Fairness in that Right is Might. Mowahid said that youth has to be mission-ready as reliance on paid lobbyists seldom delivers the goods. Mowahid cited example of a brave 17-year old girl, Darnella Frazier, who filmed on her phone the senseless killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 which sparked a worldwide civil rights protest movement leading also to police accountability. The lesson, Mowahid emphasized: The importance of small steps and to individually do what you can do.

Dr Imtiaz Khan, Professor at George Washington University Medical Center thanked the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir for their presence and being in the forefront for espousing the cause of people of Indian occupied Kashmir. Dr. Khan emphasized that the Azad Kashmir diaspora flocked along with their children and women to the rallies and seminars organized to support the legitimate cause of Kashmir. The enthusiasm expressed by Azad Kashmir community is exemplary and their leadership deserves plaudits for standing behind people of IOK.

Imtiaz Khan stated that Indian government has substantially increased the level of terror unleashed on the people of IOK. Youth continues to be martyred and incarcerated & properties destroyed. Indian agencies are exploiting the silence of world community and violating the human rights of the people never witnessed before. He appealed to the people of AJK to muster all their resources in this country and propagate the Kashmir cause with increased vigor. He stated that Kashmir is considered a paradise of Asia and with grace of Almighty it cannot for long remain a domain of murderous Indian government.

Mongi Dhaouadi, President, Tunisian United Network highlighted the meaning of fasting and its relevance with the oppressed people all over the world. Month of fasting makes us feel compassion and empathy towards the needy, destitute, poor, hungry, and less fortunate in our community. When a person is fasting and feels the pain of hunger, he should reflect on those who have been in this situation not only for days but often for weeks and months. Islam wants to inculcate this feeling among Muslims to become helping hand for all those people irrespective of their religion, culture or creed. This is the time, he emphasized that we need to remember our brethren in Palestine, Myanmar, Kashmir, and beyond.

Dr. Zahid Bukhari, National Director, ICNA Council for Social Justice said that we must stand to promote global awareness of this situation and the acceptable solution of the Kashmir issue. During the month of Ramadhan, we may better understand the rights of others with empathy. He suggested launching a comprehensive reach out campaign in America for the cause of Kashmir which is so dear to us all.

Dr. Akbar Khawaja, Strategist and Educator said India is oppressing the people of Kashmir for decades and spreading violence to stop them from demanding fundamental rights of freedom. Indian occupation forces have tried through all inhuman and cruel methods to crush the freedom struggle, but they could not kill the desire of the people of Kashmir for their right to self-determination.

Sardar Zubair Khan said that Kashmiris on both sides of the Ceasefire line are like brothers and sisters and wish to maintain that national kinship here at the United States. We need to fight the Indian occupation together through all peaceful means available to us until freedom is achieved.

Shoaib Irshad, General Secretary, Kashmir American Welfare Association (KAWA) told the participants that we know it well that you all have invested your time and energy to pursue the right of the people of Jammu & Kashmir — right to self-determination. You are the ones who have kept the candle of freedom kindled through your deep involvement with the Kashmiri political resistance by attending conference, seminars and holding rallies in Washington, New York and beyond. That cannot be ignored.

Sardar Zarif Khan, Emcee of the program thanked the audience for their participation. He applauded the role of the leadership of Kashmiri & Pakistani American community and said it was a fact that whenever we gave you a call you always responded in the positive. Thereby, you have become the symbol of compassion, humanity and kindness for the cause of Kashmir.

Those who attended included among others Malik Hamid, Shoaib Irshad, Sardar Zubair Khan, Moazzam Aftab, Akram Butt, Aftab Roshan Khan, Gul Sher, Johhny Bashir, Rana Saadat, Mohammad Akbar, Mazhar Chugtai, Ziaul Hussain, Raja Liaqat Kiyani, Shafiq Shah, Umer Khalil, Syed Adeeb, Atif Raja, Shahbaz Shaw, Shahid Abbasi and representatives of the media fraternity.

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