Home Digital Magazine Kashmir propels Pakistani-American diaspora to come on the world stage

Kashmir propels Pakistani-American diaspora to come on the world stage

The Pakistani diaspora triggered with a new fervor and zeal has shown its strength during the Kashmir crisis, mobilizing people belonging to different gender, race, age, and color, to highlight the brutalities of the Hindu supremacist government in India, and demanding an end to Modi’s racist regime.


Imran Khan on 22 July 2019, on his maiden trip to Washington as prime minister, spoke of his 22 year-old journey to win political power. Roars of approval greeted him from 30,000 Pakistani Americans, who had gathered to hear him at the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. Imran Khan provided the diaspora with the credible leadership they had always yearned for; one that was untainted by financial improbity and seen wanting to serve the people.

It was the largest gathering of Pakistani Americans ever held in the United States. As people went back to their cars, exhilarated on a record heatwave day, they didn’t realize at that time, but they had played a part which will herald a new day for Pakistan – the Pakistani American diaspora had come of age.

There are around 600,000 Pakistani diasporas that live in the USA and are dispersed all over the country with pockets of strength in the Northeast (New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, and surrounding areas), California, Texas, and Chicago. Despite, immigrating to the USA since the 1960s, educated and skilled Pakistanis who had settled there for generations now, still had very little active involvement in politics; both in the USA or back home in Pakistan.

President PTI USA, Sajjad Burki, Atif Khan President PTI Houston chapter, Dr. Amarjit Singh of Khalistan Council, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai of World Kashmir Council were fully involved in making arrangements for a well-coordinated event protesting against Modi’s actions in Kashmir. They were able to bring out around 30,000 Pakistani, Kashmiri and Sikhs that day alone.

By contrast, the Indian diaspora (estimated to be between 2-3 million) has been very active both in the USA; many of us have heard of Tulsi Gabbard currently running in the Democrat primaries for the Presidency, or Nikki Haley former U.S. Representative for the UN, Bobby Jindal former Governor of Louisiana and many others; and in supporting parties back in India.

The BJP, in particular, has strong diaspora support and for decades used it to lobby against Pakistan on many issues. It is no surprise that we saw this gathering of Pakistanis under Imran Khan’s prime ministership. He has along with his team for decades been organizing events and collecting American Pakistanis, across the board, for generating funds for Shaukat Khanum, later his university Namal and then for the PTI party.

In the process, his team has developed the muscle for understanding how to get people together – but this should not take away from July gathering as it was still no mean feat.

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The sheer arrogance with which India shamelessly annexed Indian occupied Jammu, Ladakh, and Kashmir, and the consequent curfew, blockade, and stories of substantial human right violations and humanitarian crisis stories, that started trickling out of Kashmir; once again galvanized the Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora throughout the world, including the USA.

India’s Independence day on 15 August saw thousands of Pakistani and Kashmiris protesting throughout the world. A record-breaking turnout protested in front of the Indian High Commission in London chanting “Modi the Butcher” and smashed windows of the Commission.

American Pakistani diaspora responds to PM Khan’s call

The 74th session of the UNGA assumed disproportionate importance as Prime Minister Imran Khan took an impassioned stand during his speech and in all his events prior to his much-touted address on 27 September. In his 50 minute speech at the UNGA, he tackled four areas; all crucially important, climate change, money laundering, Islamophobia, and Kashmir.

On Kashmir, he exhorted the UN to take up the responsibility for which it was set up for in 1945. He warned of a ‘bloodbath’ when India finally lifted its curfew and boys kept locked up, as if animals in cages, came out and faced the Indian soldiers. He cautioned, both are two nuclear-armed states, and Pakistan, a country seven times smaller than India, only had two options to a conventional war; surrender or fight to the death.

He clarified Pakistan would fight to the death, and “When a nuclear country fights till the end, it has consequences far beyond the borders.” He was applauded several times during his speech. Building up to the UNGA session Pakistani diaspora in the United States responded to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call with unprecedented zeal and fervor.

A record-breaking turnout protested in front of the Indian High Commission in London chanting “Modi the Butcher” and smashed windows of the Commission.

Pakistanis and Kashmiris across New York, Texas, and other U.S. states mobilized to stage massive protests to highlight the ongoing humanitarian crisis in occupied Kashmir. They put PM Modi to shame for his unlawful and barbaric actions and asked people to turn up in large numbers to protest in Houston at the Howdy Modi rally.

Twitter and other social media platforms were rife with calls to protest in New York, and Houston, where Indian PM was scheduled to hold a joint rally with U.S. President and trending hashtags such as #AdiosModi and #IndianHitlerModi were launched. Masood Hassan Raja, a former President of the PTI Houston Chapter and the Kashmiri American Council, shared details with Global Village Space of the efforts made by the Pakistani diaspora in Houston to highlight the atrocities in Kashmir.

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The Pakistani diaspora including PTI members played an active role in contacting Houston city council members, alongside state and U.S. members of Congress for Texas, and members of Houston’s Jewish community to join hands in the protest against the Indian actions. The Houston Jewish community was engaged and briefed about the rebirth of neo-Nazism and connection between RSS and BJP, their Hindutva ideology and their admiration for Nazism, many later turned up for the protests on the 22nd September at the ‘Howdy Modi’ rally.

They were able to get Houston city council member Peter Frederick to brief his fellow 16 members in the council about Indian atrocities in Kashmir and the ongoing genocide in the occupied Kashmir. Furthermore, legal cases were instituted in a Houston Court by a victim Kashmiri-American family as well as by the Kashmir-Khalistan Referendum Council, which summoned Modi, Amit Shah and Indian army commander in Kashmir for grave human rights violations in Kashmir.

Pakistani diaspora also contacted former US Presidents Barack Obama & Jimmy Carter as well as the former Secretaries of State – Madeline Albright and Hillary Clinton to apprise them of what was going on in Kashmir. Similar approaches were made to members of House of Representatives as well as the Senate.

Houston divided over the ‘Butcher of Humanity’

As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump addressed the “Howdy, Modi!” rally in Houston on September 22, where over 42,000 American-Indian diasporas gathered, thousands more gathered outside and shamed those going in.

Sikhs, Kashmiris, Pakistanis, Indians, and Americans of various ethnicities took part in a mammoth anti-Modi demonstration, staged protests carrying placards and banners with slogans outside the NRG Stadium, the venue of PM Modi and President Trump’s joint rally in Houston and demanded an end to Modi’s supremacist regime and the ongoing brutalities in Indian occupied Kashmir.

Many pointed out the irony of the situation that Modi was holding a rally in one of America’s most diverse cities. Houston has more than 145 languages spoken, and at a time when BJP is thinking of conducting a National Register of Citizens (to filter out ‘foreigners’) throughout the country; Houston, by comparison, has close to 25 percent of its population that is foreign-born.

A number of diaspora members joined hands to ensure that the Houston rally, which was already being billed by Modi as a ‘historic rally,’ was marred by protestors highlighting the atrocities taking place in Indian occupied Kashmir.

President PTI USA, Sajjad Burki, Atif Khan President PTI Houston chapter, Dr. Amarjit Singh of Khalistan Council, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai of World Kashmir Council were fully involved in making arrangements for a well-coordinated event protesting against Modi’s actions in Kashmir. They were able to bring out around 30,000 Pakistani, Kashmiri and Sikhs that day alone.

Around 150 buses caravan was arranged from Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and from the neighboring state Louisiana. All major freeways of Houston city witnessed electronic billboards messaging: Modi is neo Hitler; Save the world from new Nazism; Kashmir Freedom Now; Freedom for all; Freedom for Kashmir; and more. Over five million Houstonians witnessed these signs every day.

Human rights organizations also joined the protest in Houston. A member of the Houston United Front against Fascism shared that her organization was at the event to declare that “Modi is not welcome here, Trump is not welcome here, and we stand against genocide, and systematic oppression.”

She said, “even though I am not Indian, I’m not Punjabi, and I’m not from the Kashmir region, but I can recognize when this needs to stop.”

During the protest, a Sikh lady amongst the protestors said that Narendra Modi, the “butcher of humanity” was not welcome in America. Scores of other protestors seconded her opinion while shouting slogans against Modi and his actions.

An Indian protestor who shared his eye-witness account with Global Village space, said that the protest was a dynamic event, it was dominated by people from all walks of life who had stepped out to raise their voice for the Kashmiri struggle for freedom. “I was there … It was diverse and dynamic, and even the founder of Houston Black Lives Matter attended.”

Pakistani, Kashmiri and Sikh diaspora poured out from other US states and Texan cities to attend the protest; he added, “it was a truly incredible event, and I was really proud to be among such committed activists.”

The Pakistani diaspora including PTI members played an active role in contacting Houston city council members, alongside state and U.S. members of Congress for Texas.

He went on to say “One of the sadder consequences of the blows rained by Modi-Shah on the status, dignity, and the very existence of the people of Kashmir, is the virtual obliteration of the already shrunken space for a positive view of the idea of India, as a constitutional democracy among Kashmir’s people.”

Publicized as the “Howdy Modi” rally, it was said to be the largest, most expensive rally organized by the Indian diaspora in the US. Indian National Congress leader tweet revealed that over Rs1.4 Lakh Crore were spent on Modi’s rally.

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In his tweet, he stated: “Amazing what PM is ready to do for a stock market bump during his #HowdyIndianEconomy jamboree. At + 1.4 Lakh Crore Rs. the Houston event is the world’s most expensive event, ever! But, no event can hide the reality of the economic mess “HowdyModi” has driven India into.”

We saw the same zeal in protests in New York during the UNGA meetings as found in Houston, a series of demonstrations were held throughout the week, with thousands in attendance.

Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora groups such as World Kashmir Awareness Forum, were joined with groups as disparate as the Coalition Against Fascism in India, Indian American Muslim Council, Hindus for Human Rights, Sikhs for Justice, Black Lives Matter, Jewish Voice for Peace and many others, who organized thousands of people to come out, including many Indian Americans, to protest against Modi outside the UN building. Slogans for free Kashmir appeared in trucks, vans, and taxis throughout the city including on buildings in Times Square.

Over a half a million people of Pakistani origin call the United States their home. This diaspora is amongst Pakistan’s most educated consisting of doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, scientists, and many others. They send back close to $3.5bn every year to the Pakistan but now even more importantly they can play an essential role in explaining and raising Pakistan’s voice in the USA. Pakistani diaspora has finally come of age.

Raja, who is also the former President of the Pakistani-American Association of Houston, said that many of the Pakistani Americans are professionals – doctors, academics, engineers, businessmen, etc. –  belonging to various Pakistani-American organizations like the Pakistani-American Association of Greater Organization (PAGH), Pakistani-American Council of Texas (PACT), Pakistan Chamber of Commerce (PCC) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).

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