Saying goodbye is sometimes easy but sometimes a very difficult thing to do, particularly when I am saying goodbye, though temporarily, to freedom and to a mission that I have given my life to. But the real goodbye is not the words that I have formed in my head because there are none that express how I really feel.
The goodbye is in a slowly swelling sense of absence of all the people and places and efforts I have put my heart into that has become like a flower near a pond that may dry up for lack of rain. Its sustenance is going away. The absence is the letting go of all the things that I embrace. How does one let go of love? How does one let go of one’s heart, one’s very life?
A life is not merely held within one’s blood circulating in the body or in the breath that one takes. It is so much more in all the people that I have lived for and my beloved country of origin, Kashmir, the paradise on earth. However difficult it is, I thought that now would be the right time to say good-bye to all those thousands of well wishers who have kept me in their prayers during these tough times. I am extremely grateful for the warm and generous support that I have received from all of you.
Being separated from my family and friends especially will not be easy during these two years that I will be incarcerated, starting today, July 10, 2012. It is even more difficult to imagine what lies ahead in this period of having to live in circumstances that are so unknown and so obviously designed to be punitive rather than supportive and psychologically sustaining.
Nevertheless, I know that I will be comforted in some ways. I have discovered through this difficult episode in my life the true depth of my friendships with so many good people irrespective of their religious affiliations and cultural background, who have stood with me, and it is that spirit of love and brotherhood that has brought me to a moment in my life that is unique and paradoxically even hopeful. I can already see that this could be a transforming journey of renewal and self-discovery and perhaps even a spiritual awakening.
I do not know what events will unfold in Jammu & Kashmir during my physical absence from you. But I do know for certain one thing: the sanctity of the cause of Kashmir will not diminish. There are many reasons for keeping the hope alive. The struggle for self-determination has lasted for more than eight decades, beginning in 1931, even before the era of Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The will of the people to sustain their struggle for self determination has been impeded at times but in the end has survived even the most horrendous conditions of occupation that have been inflicted upon our people.
It’s clear that this will not die. Although the world powers have not been forthright in helping the people of Jammu & Kashmir realize their right to self-determination. It seems that trade matters more than human lives. The vast commercial market in India represents a serious distraction and seems invariably to take priority over any application of human rights policy. But the world powers are still committed at least in principle that any settlement of Kashmir must take into account the wishes and aspirations of the people.
There is an urgent need to act on this. Nevertheless, the stated policy of world powers including the United States is consistent and does offer hope, at least, that the sacrifices of the people of Kashmir have not gone in vain. The world powers have also made it clear that Indian policy on Kashmir is both mistaken and misleading in expressing the view that Kashmir is “an integral part of India.”
On January 4, 2012 when the United States, State Department spokesperson Ms. Victoria Nuland was asked by an Indian journalist what the dotted lines in the map between India and Pakistan meant, she replied, It reflects Kashmir’s unresolved status and it also reflects that this is in dispute. Another Indian journalist asked: if you say that Kashmir is in dispute, that is not going to please the Indians at all.
Well, again, it is consistent with longstanding U.S. policy, she replied. This declaration establishes a line in the sand, as it were, that challenges India to pay attention to a long history of United Nations resolutions and established principles regarding the disposition of Kashmir. The groundwork well established for self-determination cannot easily be undone. When 120 world leaders met in Durbin, South Africa, during the 12th Summit of the Nonaligned Movement, (NAM), the Chairman of the Summit, President Nelson Mandela said in his opening remarks, “All of us remain concerned that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir should be solved through peaceful negotiations and should be willing to lend all the strength we have to the resolution of this matter.”
Even the closest ally of India, Russia, which has on occasion blocked the progress of Kashmir at the Security Council, is on record in support of ending the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin who has made numerous attempts to broker a settlement between India and Pakistan, has said, “India and Pakistan should resolve the Kashmir dispute in the interest of peace in South Asia and the rest of the world.” These are all good signs that further progress can be made under the right conditions. In addition, it should be made clear that Kashmiri American Council (KAC) is not dead.
There are people who wish that the KAC was no longer active and that the Kashmiri American community cannot play any role in the future. This is delusional. Yes, as I said in the court and it needs to be repeated that words possibly cannot define the damage that I have caused to my family, friends and the United States of America and for which I am paying a great price. But, at the same time, the very judge who sentenced me, Judge O’Grady, whose opinion was based upon all the facts made it very clear that the cause of Kashmir was a wonderful cause and should by all means be furthered. Judge said, “I know that the KAC is dormant, I guess is the word for it at this stage, but there may be an opportunity to arrange conferences through other people in the future, and I hope that cause continues to be identified as an important international matter.”
The judge’s opinion challenged every Kashmiri American and the friends of Kashmir to continue advocating for the cause. Yes, I will be away for some time, but there are many others who can continue publicizing the just cause of Kashmir. KAC is alive and well and will continue its work completely unimpeded. With that, my very best wishes, I thank you again for your long support, and until we meet next time united in our hopes and aspirations. Till then, ‘Khuda Hafiz’, may God bless you and your families!
Editor’s note: Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai is a U.S. citizen, born in Kashmir, an advocate of Kashmir. The FBI arrested him in 2011 for concealing the transfer of USD $3.5 million from Pakistan’s ISI to fund lobbying efforts in the US. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud the US.
By Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai