Why Solidarity with Kashmiris!

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5th February, the Kashmir Solidarity Day is commemorated as a day when Pakistani populace across the world renews its pledge to support the peaceful struggle of freedom of their Kashmiri brethren. This day stands as a pledge for those millions of Kashmiris who have been engaged in struggle to win their right to self-determination from a usurper India, which has been unleashing a reign of terror on the hapless Kashmiris for last over seven decades. The day, observed since 1991, conveys a clear message to the Indians that they would have to recognise the right of Kashmiris to choose their fate themselves as granted by UN resolutions.

The people of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) intensified their struggle for securing their right to self-determination in 1989 and the mass movement gave sleepless nights to the Indian rulers. In a bid to crush this popular movement, India dismissed the government of Farooq Abdullah and appointed Jagmohan Malhotra, who was notorious for his anti-Muslim bias, as the Governor of the territory on January 19, 1990. Soon after the appointment of new governor, a reign of terror was unleashed in occupied Kashmir and on the night of January 20, Indian troops molested several women in Srinagar during house raids. As the word about the molestation of the women spread in the morning, thousands of people took to the streets in the city to protest against the brutal action of the troops. The Indian forces opened indiscriminate fire on the protesters in Gaw Kadal area of the city, killing over 50 people and injuring hundreds of others. The massacre caused resentment in Pakistan and the ensuing 5th February was declared as a solidarity day all across the country. Since then, every year, the day is being observed to express oneness with the oppressed people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir at the state level.

5th February translates into an act of promise in which people of Pakistan vow to uphold the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to self-determination in conformity to the resolutions of United Nations Security Council calling for impartial and above-board plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. Seminars, conferences and demonstrations are organized on the day to highlight important aspects of the Kashmir dispute and the gross human rights violations being perpetrated by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir. The commemoration of Kashmir solidarity day is also a message to the international community to fulfill its commitments towards the peaceful resolution of the long-standing core question of Kashmir.

There are a number of legitimate and genuine reasons for the people of Pakistan to express solidarity with their oppressed Kashmiri brethren. Both share strong bonds in respect of religion, geography, culture, aspirations and economy. The number of Kashmiris who migrated to Pakistan from occupied Kashmir since 1947 due to Indian aggression is in hundreds of thousands, which shows Kashmiris’ emotional attachment with Pakistan. Even when India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was asked a question in 1965 about holding of plebiscite in Kashmir, he responded, “Kashmiris would vote to join Pakistan and we would lose it. No Indian government responsible for agreeing to a plebiscite would survive.” It was the ideological commonality that prompted the Muslim Conference of Jammu and Kashmir to pass a resolution in its meeting in Srinagar on 19th July 1947, whereby it was declared that Jammu and Kashmir should become a part of Pakistan. This happened about a month before the creation of Pakistan. The attachment of the people of Kashmir is manifest from the fact that the Valley of Kashmir has been from time to time, reverberating with the slogans of “Long Live Pakistan” and “We want Pakistan.” Pakistani flags are hoisted in Jammu and Kashmir on the national days of the country, whereas such days of India are observed as black days.

Pakistan has been the victim of Indian military aggression for supporting the Kashmiris during the past seventy-six years. On one hand, India wants that Pakistan withdraws its support to the Kashmiri people, while on the other it has been resorting to all kinds of undemocratic tactics to suppress the Kashmiris’ just struggle for securing their right to self-determination. Since 1989, when the people of Kashmir intensified their liberation struggle, till January 31, this year, the unabated Indian state terrorism has resulted in the killing of 96,175 innocent Kashmiris and disappearance of over ten thousands in custody. This phenomenon of killing has rendered over 22,957 women widowed and 1,07,896 children orphaned.

In 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016 hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Srinagar and other towns of IIOJK with the demand of their right to self-determination. Instead of respecting the sentiments of these people, Indian troops and police personnel responded with bullets, teargas shells and batons, resulting in the killing of hundreds and injuring of thousands others. The response of international community to the peaceful protests in the occupied territory and subsequent killings was also marginal, as it could not hold India responsible for the massacre of unarmed Kashmiris and not a single trooper or policeman was punished.

Narendra Modi-led fascist Indian government’s unilateral illegal action of revoking the special status of IIOJK and completely annexing it with India on 05 August 2019 has endangered the peace and stability of the entire world, particularly the South Asian region. Thousands of Kashmiris including Hurriyat leaders and activists arrested after the repeal of the Article 370 remain lodged in different jails of India and IIOJK. Senior Hurriyat leader, Altaf Ahmad Shah, died in the Indian captivity in October, last year, due to denial of basic facilities including medical care in the jail. He had been under illegal detention for the past over five years. Prominent APHC leader, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, also died in the Indian custody in May 2021. The life of many other detainees is in danger as they have developed serious ailments during the illegal detention.

The Modi regime in order to legalise the settlement of non-Kashmiri Hindus in IIOJK has extended several federal laws and introduced new domicile rules in the territory. It has granted domicile status to thousands of Indian Hindus in blatant violation of UN Security Council resolutions and international law, particularly the 4th Geneva Convention. Modi-led India has made another law authorising its army to declare any land in the occupied territory as strategic and take it into its possession. Also, as part of its anti-Muslim policies, the BJP-led communal government is replacing the Muslim names of important places and departments with Hindu names and plans to construct 50,000 temples to Hinduanise IIOJK. It is also terminating the Kashmiri Muslim government employees and seizing the property of pro-freedom people and members of Jamaat-e-Islami of the occupied territory to punish them for their affiliation with and role in the ongoing freedom movement. The Delimitation Commission constituted by the Modi government in its report has granted six additional assembly seats to Hindu majority Jammu region and only one more seat to Muslim dominated Kashmir division. This has been done despite the fact that the population of Kashmir Valley is 15 lacs more than Jammu as per the last census exercise. By doing this, the RSS-backed Modi regime wants to gain majority whenever so-called Assembly elections are held in IIOJK and install a Hindu chief minister there. The basic objective behind all these unilateral illegal measures is to damage the essence of the UN resolutions on the Kashmir dispute and affect the results in India’s favour if New Delhi is compelled to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir in the future.

History is witness to the fact that Pakistani leadership and people have always supported the Kashmiris’ just liberation struggle. On the other side, it was his commitment to the interest of the Kashmiri people that drove Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah to visit Jammu and Kashmir three times before 1947, first in 1926, then in 1936 and finally in 1944. He tried to convince the Kashmiri leadership to become a part of the Pakistan Movement as the people of the territory were culturally and religiously linked with the Muslims of South Asia. It was rightly said by the Quaid-e-Azam that Kashmir is the “Jugular Vein” of Pakistan. Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, in his address to the UN General Assembly, made it clear to the world that Pakistan desired peace with all its neighbours including India, however, sustainable peace and stability in South Asia remained contingent upon a just and lasting resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Chief of Army Staff, General Syed Asim Munir, has urged the world to ensure justice and deliver what is promised to the Kashmiri people in line with the United Nations resolutions. He made these remarks during his visit to frontline troops at Rakh Chikri Sector of the Line of Control on December 03, 2022. The statement of General Asim Munir reflects Pakistan’s principled stance on the Kashmir dispute and commitment to the Kashmiris’ just struggle for right to self-determination.

There is no denying the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is a flashpoint as it involves two nuclear-armed arch-rivals, Pakistan and India. The observance of the Kashmir Solidarity Day conveys a clear message to India that it would have to recognize Kashmiris’ right to self-determination as granted by the UN resolutions. It also sends a message to the World Body to fulfill its commitments of holding a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute. In view of the precarious nature of situation where two nuclear-armed neighbours are facing each other, the international community must take the situation seriously. The Modi regime’s actions taken on and after 5th August, 2019 have also raised the urgency for settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

(The writer is a Senior News Editor at the Kashmir Media Service in Islamabad)

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