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ISNA: Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana speaks on Kashmire

September 7, 2007

It was quite a challenge actually picking which program I would attend, often I had to pick between 3 or 4 programs where I actually considered doing eenie meenie minie moe to pick between them (and please pardon that spelling – how do you spell that anyway?)  I found myself leaning towards current event issues and decided to stick with that theme.  Saturday’s programs actually started on time which made me miss a bit of this program but I did manage to catch Congressman Dan Burton’s presentation at the “Kashmire: New Hopes, Aspirations or Illusions” program. 

Congressman Burton started out his presentation urging all of us to voice our concerns not only with Kashmir but with other issues.  He reminded the audience that this wasn’t like those repressed parts of the world.  These statements would remain with me throughout the ISNA convention .. pondering.

Notes were made on there being many congressman ready to stand up against the human rights violations taking place in Kashmire.  His address included how we should be putting pressure on India or any country violating human rights through legislation and resolutions and how such has been done in other cases.  He informed us of the great opposition by others in congress and the strength of that lobby.  However, he also spoke of his own persistence on the matter and how he has brought pictures and video footage that shows the human rights violations taking place in Kashmire to congress.

His work on Kashmire included heading up the International Relations Committee that met with both Musharaf and Singh.  Mr. Burton’s vision for Kashmire included letting the people of Kashmire decide their own fate, allowing the Kashmirees to govern themselves until an agreement is reached and pulling the military out of Kashmire immediately.

On the issue of pulling the military out – Musharaf agreed – Singh would not.

On the issue of plebiscite – Musharaf agreed – Singh would not.

 On the issue of allowing the Kashmirees to govern themselves until an agreement was reached – Musharaf agreed – Singh would not.

Mr. Burton went on to conclude his presentation with the role, or non-role as seems to be the case, of the UN.  The UN has not lived up to its responsibilities and Mr. Burton called the UN “a paper tiger that doesn’t do anything but meet.”  He urged us to keep as much pressure on the UN.  The US can not alone solve this problem and that all the nations that believe in human rights and democracy are needed to resolve this issue.

The program itself was a 101 on Kashmire but more than, at least to me, it was an opportunity to renew my appreciation for those that dedicate themselves to preserving human rights.  It was an opportunity to hear from someone outside my own faith that has worked on the issue and to gain some insight as to what I could do to make a difference.  While the latter was addressed through Congressman Burton urging us to voice our concerns and to apply pressure to the UN, I think we would have benefited with some how-to’s.   For example, while I know how to find the information on how to reach my representatives and senators – I think that the audience could have benefited from a re-cap on where to find the information.  Additionally, I’m not even quite sure how I would put pressure on the UN to step-up on any situation.  My faith in the UN is a little less than null at the moment and while hearing “paper tiger” brought a smile to my face and some nodding, I have to wonder how we change that – how do we change an organization that meets .. makes resolutions .. and then some country with veto power does a little veto dance; all the pressure in the world on any issue just isn’t going to change that.  ~sigh~

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