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Why would US Congress Members share a Webinar platform with anti-Indian activists of Azad Kashmir & Khalistani groups

While the Indian government continues to battle internal and external opposition from organizations such as Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ & K) and Sikhs for Justice, it is shocking to note that last year US Members of Congress were a part of a Webinar ‘Crisis in Jammu and Kashmir – Youm-e-Istehsalon hosted by the Consulate of Pakistan in Houston, Texas held on August 5, 2020 indulging in Anti India and Azad Kashmir rhetorics.

At the Webinar, Consul General Abrar H Hashmi said that Youm-e-Istehsal (05 August 2020) marks one year since India’s illegal action and it was to express solidarity with and highlight the plight of the people of what they termed as the Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIoJK)

President of AJ&K, Sardar Masood Khan gave details of the ongoing military siege of apocalyptic gravity wherein people of IIoJKare colonialized and risk total annihilation. He highlighted how people’s liberties, human dignity, and identity were being ruined. Kashmiris are terrorized by 900,000 troops using force, especially against youth to break their will. Kashmiris are prisoners within their lands, homes, and hearths and India took a cover of COVID-19 to introduce new domicile laws and importing Indians to change the demographic composition. The people of IIoJK have no representation and are at the mercy of the fascist BJP-RSS regime led by Narendra Modi in New Delhi. He said the United States has been a source of strength for Kashmiris. The President called upon its leaders and people to play their leading role in resolving the dispute through United Nations resolution or under chapter six to vacate illegal Indian occupation.

Shockingly, US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (Democrat- Houston, Texas), who is a recipient of Hilal e Pakistan and President of US-Pakistan congressional caucus and co-chair of Friends of Kashmir, reiterated her support for human rights, peace, and security. She said we let the people of Kashmir know we stand with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. And promised she will continue raising her voice for the rights of oppressed people worldwide. 

Another Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (Democrat – Dallas, Texas) emphatically supported the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris. She recalled about co-sponsoring resolution HR-745 which condemned Indian actions in J&K and communication blockade and called for the restoration of normalcy. She assured continued strong support so that life is spent in freedom. 

Congressman Jim Banks (Republican – Indiana), is a co-chair of Friends of Kashmir and is a staunch supporter of civil and economic liberties. He pointed out that bipartisan efforts his caucus was able to draw the attention of the United States’ leadership. He too committed to continuing working to make the congressional colleagues aware of the situation in Kashmir and ease their sufferings. 

Known anti-India activist Riffat Wani, from Srinagar, raised serious concerns over the ongoing humanitarian crisis and particularly for women. She said women were the worse victims of Indian occupation forces who use rape as a weapon of war. She mentioned that whole villages and localities were victimized in the darkness of nights. Besides, women as mothers, wives, and daughters suffer in hospitals, and at homes waiting for their loved ones who forcibly disappeared. Hundreds are half-widows and orphans living under anxiety. This machination is used to deter the local population from pursuing their just struggle for Azadi. 

Terry Meza, Member Texas State Assembly from Dallas was empathic in her support for peace, religious freedoms, and the right to self-determination. She emphasized the need for easing restrictions and ensuring liberties for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. She also mentioned her interactions and enhanced understanding of the issue and wanted the US Administration to attend to the issue on merits and not just political considerations. 

Incidentally, we reported on Congressman Jim Banks who spoke vociferously against Jamaat-E-Islami and extremist Islamic organizations working against India in a story we did last year – ‘Why is US Government funding extremist Islamic groups fighting against India.

Our report had stated that three Congressmen – Jim Banks, Chuck Fleischmann, and Randy Weber — in a letter to the State Department Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism Nathan Sales exposed the questionable links of Helping Hand of Relief (HHRD)

“Specifically of concern are the innocuous-sounding organization. Helping Hands for Relief and Development (HHRD) and their “sister organization,” the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). While they sell themselves as innocuous Muslim civil society organizations. they are. in fact, arms of one of the most radical networks in the world. 

There is no serious doubt that ICNA and HHRD are part of Jamaat-e-Islami’s international network. Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming and extensive. Vali Nasr of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced and International Studies names ICNA as one of the most important branches of Jamaat-e-Islami in the world. Regrettably, there is significant evidence that Helping Hands for Relief and Development and ICNA are directly involved in terror finance. Indeed, Helping Hands for Relief and Development, under the guise of international aid, has openly worked with U.S. designated terrorist organizations in the disputed region of Kashmir. 

In December 2017, HHRD organized a conference in Pakistan. Other organizations sponsoring the event included the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, the charitable wing of the Pakistani terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba. In 2016. the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Falah-eInsaniat Foundation as a terrorist organization.’? But that’s just one example. Another sponsor of the conference was a Pakistani charity named Al-Khidmat, which is the main charitable wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. Al-Khidmat supports the aforementioned Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Jamaat-e-Islami’s armed wing, a U.S. designated terrorist group, and works on projects that are run by Hizb-ul-Mujahaideen.’! But Al-Khidmat’s ties to terror finance don’t end only with other Jamaat-e-Islami affiliated groups. In 2006, Jamaat-e-Islami announced that Al-Khidmat sent 6 million rupees ($100,000) to Hamas, another U.S. designated terrorist group, for their ‘just Jihad.” Moreover, HHRD’s partnership with Al-Khidmat is not relegated to this one conference. Indeed. according to HHRD’s 2017 report, HHRD had done 214 different projects with Al-Khidmat.

The ongoing tension and violence in Kashmir is a threat to peace and stability for both India and Pakistan. It is clearly in the best interests of the U.S. to keep peace in the region and not fan the flames of war. It is thus vital that the U.S. do whatever it can to stop the flow of any and all funds that we can to terrorist organizations operating in the region. Thus, we ask that you use the full powers of your office to further investigate the potential terror finance links between groups like ICNA and HHRD, and US. and UN Security Council designated terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahedeen. “

ICNA

Now, surprisingly, Congressman Jim Banks is now seen attending a Webinar hosted by the Pakistani Consulate in Houston and attended by with Anti-India activists from Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Sikhs for Justice.

Savio Rodrigues

Savio Rodrigues Founder & Editor-in-Chief GoaChronicle.com

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