Saturday, May 09, 2009

Thursday evening

Dinner at Lahore 2 with Janmmu Kashmir Liberation Front leaders Zafar Sharif, Malik Latif, Mahmood Hussain, Mahmood Faiz, Sohail Sheikh, and Mohammad Sakhi, one of a series we have had over the years to discuss the situation in Kashmir and how to raise the profile here in the UK. There is a big Kashmiri community in several major towns and cities, and they would like to hear more discussion of Kashmir by mainstream politicians, though it is recognised that in New Delhi they are quick to react adversely to any statement they see as nteference by the former colonial power. Nevertheless it has to be remembered that Kashmiris weren't consulted when the ruler took them into the Indian union, and that after that the United Nations for a while tried to assert the people's right to self-determination. This isn't an issue in Kashmir in the current Indian elections, because candidates have to swear an oath of loyalty to the Indian constitution, which means that anyone who wants to see a change in the status of Kashmir is barred from standing. The JKLF and the Hurriyat Conference - an umbrella organisation for those who do want change - have called for a boycott of the polls, and at a rough guess the turnout in the state is likely to be under 15%.

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