Kashmir Briefing, U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C. Print
Tuesday, 18 July 2006 00:00

"Global Terrorism and Ground Reality in Kashmir" addressed during Kashmir Briefing on Capitol Hill. Venue: Cannon House Office Building, Room 210. Date: July 18, 2006. Time: 3:30 – 4:00 pm.

A Congressional Briefing on Kashmir was conducted as part of the Indo-American Friendship Council (IAFC) 10th Anniversary Conference in Washington, D.C. on July 18th. The Kashmir Briefing was coordinated by Mr. Kanchan Banerjee of IAFC and facilitated by IAFC Chairman Dr. Krishna Reddy. The speakers at the briefing were Dr. Rahul Pandit, Director of Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT; www.factusa.org) and President of the Indo-American Kashmir Forum (IAKF; www.iakf.org), and Mr. Dino Teppara, Legislative Director for Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC).

Dr. Pandit spoke about global terrorism and the ground reality in Kashmir. During his trip to the Valley of Kashmir in September 2005, just two weeks prior to the devastating earthquake in the region, he had an opportunity to interact with common Kashmiris. “What they want more than anything else is peace.” Dr. Pandit connected the dots between Kashmiri terrorism and global jihad, by pointing out the relationship between the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani based terrorist group operating in Kashmir, with terrorist plots throughout India (including the recent Mumbai train bomb blasts) as well as with the al-Qaida cell in Virginia and possibly the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London. “On June 6, the most recent indictment of a member of the ‘Virginia 11’ al-Qaida cell in Falls Church, Virginia, was handed down. Members of this cell are known to have received training from the LeT in Pakistan. Currently British authorities are also investigating this cell for its purported relationship with the leader of the 7/7 London bombings in 2005 prior to that attack.”

Mr. Teppara spoke about the resolution Representatives Wilson and Gary Ackerman (D-NY) have introduced in the House of Representatives that highlights the plight of the Kashmiri Pandit minority community. “This community was targeted by terrorists in an ethnic cleansing campaign beginning in 1989. These Kashmiri Hindus, the original inhabitants of the Kashmir Valley, were forced into exile in 1990. Conditions for their return have not been adequately addressed.” Mr. Teppara answered many questions from the audience regarding Congressional resolve to address issues of terrorism and its impact on Kashmir, India, and the U.S.

The Kashmir Briefing was immediately preceded by a White House Briefing delivered by Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia. The predominance of questions asked of him were also about terrorism and Kashmir. He reinforced President Bush’s commitment to handling issues of terrorism firmly, and reiterated that the White House strongly “condemns all acts of terrorism in Kashmir”, even if it doesn’t specifically make statements following each and every attack.