ISI chooses UK for week-long event to mark Geelani's death anniversary, but no one's surprised
The venue comes as no surprise as the ISI has a very active desk in the UK and draws a lot of support from the huge British Pakistan community
New Delhi, Sep 02: September 1 marked a year since the death of the pro-Pakistan, Kashmiri separatist, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. To mark the event, an organisation called the Tehreek-i-Kashmir UK, which is backed by Pakistan's ISI, is organising a week-long programme in England.
The venue comes as no surprise because the ISI has a very active desk in the UK and draws a lot of support from the huge British Pakistan community. The ISI has very often used this desk to drum up anti-India sentiments and has also influenced many lawmakers in the UK to speak out against New Delhi on issues such as Kashmir. The desk has also been very actively using the pro-Khalistan voices in the UK to drum up an anti-India narrative.
The ISI has also been running Kashmir centric lobbies such as The Justice Foundation and World Kashmir Freedom Movement in London. These are similar to the Kashmiri American Council led by Ghulam Nabi Fai who is on the payrolls of the ISI.
The Justice Foundation describes itself as a non-aligned organisation, but has arranged conferences and events in the House of Commons and House of Lords. The focus has been on the human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. This group has also hosted several Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs as well as politicians. It has also received messages of support from former prime minister Tony Blair. These conferences were aimed at drawing strong support from the British Kashmiri community.
An Intelligence Bureau official tells OneIndia that the ISI has also organised and nurtured pro-Khalistan activists in the UK and held a training course for them in 2014 at Mae Sot, Thailand.
Not just the UK, several other western countries have been reluctant to act against pro-Khalistan groups such as the Sikhs for Justice led by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. The Narendra Modi government has been urging countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada to act against these forces. New Delhi had in April taken strong exception to the UK allowing a referendum by the Khalistan forces.
The Khalistan groups such as the SJF, Khalistan Zindabad Force among others have been responsible for numerous acts of terror in India. They have been involved in carrying out terror attacks in Punjab and also targeting Hindus in Punjab.
The concerns about Pannun have been raised several times in the past. He runs a network across Canada, the UK, the United States, Australia, Germany and Malaysia. The official cited above said that since the US Department of Treasury's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had denied SJF tax exemption status, Pannun changed the nomenclature of the SJF and made it 'Sikhs for Justice International'. Following this, he got it registered with the IRS on April 15, 2019 as a public charity.
The UK has always been a country of concern. Recently thousands of protesters gathered outside the Indian High Commission and displayed Khalistan flags. Paramjeet Panna, closely associated with the ISI-funded Sikhs For Justice and members of the Sikh Federation, UK, which is associated with the Khalistan movement were part of the protests.