Early December, Birmingham Councillor Waseem Zaffar delivered a powerful and riveting speech at the Birmingham Council Chamber, speaking on behalf of the Kashmiri people and their rights.

Kashmir has long been the centre of conflict between India and Pakistan, with those bearing the brunt of violence being the Kashmiri’s themselves. Zaffar urged the British government to advocate more for the self-determination of the Kashmiri’s, especially given that Birmingham is home to the largest number of Kashmiri’s in the world outside Kashmir itself.

Although a Kashmiri himself, Zaffar, a Cabinet Member for Transparency, Openness and Equality, argued that there are many others who are passionate about the situation given the high levels of human rights abuses on going, including the previous Conservative government who debated the issue as well.

The increase in Kashmir has only worsened as of late, mostly due to the armed forces’ killing of a pro-independence activist. Zaffar also brought up the many ‘half-widows’ in Kashmir, who live without knowing whether their husbands are alive, injured, dead, martyred, or being held captive.

Furthermore, Zaffar insisted it was imperative the UK government intervene is some way due to the Kashmir crisis being largely “outstanding business of the British Empire,” a remnant of the past when the Empire carved India and Pakistan and left Kashmir in a nebulous and hence contentious middle zone.

He argued that Kashmir has the right to self-determination, something that has been promised since 1948 but never delivered on, even after 18 consecutive UN resolutions vowing to. The proposal was unanimously accepted by all present at the Council and is now awaiting action.


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