HAF calls on Indian Government to prioritize repatriation of Kashmiri Hindus Pandits to their ancestral homeland

On Thursday, the governments of India and Pakistan issued a rare joint statement announcing a ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC) separating India and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) welcomes the announced ceasefire regime and calls on the government of Pakistan to honor its international commitments, end financing and sponsoring of terrorist organizations and its cross-border terrorist attacks in India.

“Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24/25 Feb 2021,” the joint statement said. The truce, agreed to by the two armies director-generals of military operations, re-establishes the 2003 ceasefire agreement signed by the two nuclear powers.

“In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGsMO agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence,” the statement said.

“This agreement shows that India’s lawful decision to fully integrate Jammu and Kashmir into the Republic of India, thereby granting citizenship and full rights equal protections to the Kashmiri people on August 5, 2019, was not only the right move, but it has brought the region closer to a just and lasting peace,” stated HAF Managing Director Samir Kalra, Esq. “We hope that Pakistan will not break the truce again; and, we urge the Indian government to take this opportunity to provide a clear pathway for Kashmiri Hindu Pandits to return to their ancestral homeland,” Kalra said.

On January 19, 1989, a violent Islamist insurgency came to a peak when Pakistan sponsored terrorists unleashed a violent campaign of murder, rape, and ethnic cleansing resulting in the forced exile of over 350,000 indigenous Kashmiri Hindus, known as Pandits, from the Kashmir Valley.

Hours after the ceasefire was announced, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international anti-money laundering and terror financing watchdog, announced that Pakistan would remain on its ‘Grey List’ until the group meets again in June 2021. Pakistan was first placed on the FATF Grey List in 2018 for its open financing of terrorist organizations such as Lashkar e-Taiba (LeT), responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 people dead; Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), responsible for the 2002 kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl; and Al-Qaeda, whose founder and former leader Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York City, was killed by US special forces in a military hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

While the FATF announcement was expected on Thursday, it is not yet clear if the announcement of the India-Pakistan ceasefire agreement was related to the FATF’s decision not to downgrade Pakistan to the FATF ‘Black List’ nor if it influenced FATF’s decision.

“This ceasefire is a step in the right direction, but we all know by now that when Pakistan takes one step forward it’s usually followed by two steps backward, and so we urge President Biden to keep up the pressure on the Islamic Republic of Pakistan until it ends its harboring, financing, and support for terrorism,” Kalra said.