TORONTO: Friends of Kashmir Canada delegation called on Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland today to brief her on the grim situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The delegation pressed the minister to take a clear stand against Indian crimes and to take the lead in helping to resolve the long festering problem.
The meeting with Ms Freeland occurred the same day that her office had issued a statement of concern regarding the situation in Kashmir.
Canada is the first western country to issue a statement of concern.
Minister Freeland heard heart-wrenching stories of members of the delegation that have family members trapped in Srinagar and have been unable to communicate with them since August 4 because Indian occupation forces have cut off all Internet, cell phone and landline communications.
Ms Freeland, who was accompanied by her parliamentary secretary Rob Oliphant in the meeting, stressed the importance of being kept informed of developments in Kashmir.
She said that while Canada has issued a statement expressing concern, she felt it is more effective to work with likeminded countries.
Minister Freeland admitted it was not a great moment for pluralism given the alarming rise in Islamophobia and white supremacist groups. She alluded to attacks in Christchurch, El Paso and India.
She said the G7 meeting in France in two weeks’ time would afford a good opportunity to have discussion about Kashmir and develop a coordinated strategy.
Immediately after meeting the Friends of Kashmir delegation, she was heading out to meet her German counterpart who was coming to Toronto.
Friends of Kashmir delegation included Azrab Khan, Ayesha Yousaf, Ayub Qureshi, Mueen Hakak and Zafar Bangash.
There were a number of other Canadians of Kashmiri origin also present in the meeting including Kashif Hassan, Ibrahim Danial, Mansoor Wani and Farhat Buchh.
One of the positive aspects of the meeting was that the minister’s parliamentary secretary Rob Oliphant is very well informed about the situation and background of the Kashmir dispute.
As Canada heads to federal elections on October 21, the Kashmir issue is likely to be a major topic of discussion.
Already thousands of letters have been sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as Foreign Minister Freeland urging their intervention in the matter.
As the Friends of Kashmir pointed out to the minister, there is risk of a nuclear conflagration between India and Pakistan. That would then draw in China and perhaps Russia as well.
This doomsday scenario is what has prompted Canada’s leading newspapers and TV channels to editorially castigate India’s illegal and provocatively Belligerent moves in Kashmir.
Friends of Kashmir Canada has been actively working to promote the cause of Kashmir for more than 30 years.
It has organized conferences and seminars ad well as rallies to highlight the Kashmir issue.
On Sunday August 18 a massive rally is planned in front of Toronto City Hall starting at 10 am.