Kashmir Solidarity Day: Pakistanis vow unflinching support —Watch out, India changing Kashmir’s demography
By Muhammad Amjad & Zee Khan
Pakistan observes the Kashmir Solidarity Day on 5th February every year to renew the pledge to continue the unflinching support to the Kashmiri people who are carrying on a just struggle to achieve their inalienable right to self-determination.
The observance of the day since 1991 is aimed at conveying a loud and clear message to India that the Kashmiris are not alone in their struggle and sooner or later, it will have to give them their right to decide their political future by themselves as guaranteed by the relevant UN resolutions.
It is also a reminder to the world community to fulfill its obligations towards resolving the long-pending Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
It is a historical fact that India had forcibly occupied Jammu and Kashmir by landing its troops in Srinagar on 27th October, 1947, against the will of the Kashmiri people and in total disregard to the Partition Plan of the Indian Subcontinent.
Since 1989, when the people of Kashmir intensified their liberation struggle, the unabated Indian state terrorism has so far resulted in the killing of nearly one hundred thousand innocent Kashmiris and disappearance of thousands in custody.
During the mass uprising in the Indian-occupied Kashmir from 2008 to 2010, millions of people took to the streets in Srinagar and other towns with the demand of their right to self-determination.
Instead of respecting the sentiments of the people, Indian troops and police personnel responded with the use of brute force, killing and maiming thousands of people during the period.
Many international human rights bodies and the European Parliament expressed concern over the discovery of unidentified mass graves in the territory strongly apprehending that the graves contained the dead bodies of those who were killed in custody and fake encounters by Indian troops.
Pakistan has been consistent in giving all out support to the just cause of Kashmiri people and has acted as a strong advocate of the Kashmir cause at the international fora.
The Pakistanis have a number of legitimate and genuine reasons to express solidarity with their Kashmiri brethren as both share strong bonds in respect of religion, geography, culture, aspirations and economy. The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had termed Kashmir the jugular vein of Pakistan. His commitment to the interests of the Kashmiris had driven him to visit Jammu and Kashmir three times before 1947 (in 1926, 1936 and 1944) during which he held extensive talks with the Kashmiri leadership.
Pakistan has been calling for settling the dispute in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. At the same time, the attachment of Kashmiri people with Pakistan has also been remarkable. The attachment of the people of Kashmir with Pakistan can also be gauged well from the fact that the occupied Valley has been reverberating, from time to time, with pro-Pakistan slogans. Pakistani flags are hoisted in Indian occupied Kashmir on the national days of the country, whereas such days of India are observed as black days.
The people of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir are unanimous in deploring the fact that the response of international community to the just struggle of the Kashmiri people has been disappointing. It has failed to hold New Delhi accountable for the genocide of Kashmiris and impress upon India to provide the people of Jammu and Kashmir their inalienable right to self-determination. The world needs to take cognizance of the fact that Kashmir has become a nuclear flashpoint as it involves two nuclear-armed neighbours — Pakistan and India. The fact is that due to India’s unrealistic and intransigent attitude, the peace of the entire South Asia is at stake.
Agreeing to hold a plebiscite would not be an act of favour by New Delhi; it is what India had proposed in the resolutions it presented before, and which were subsequently passed by, the UN Security Council. India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru made the same commitment to the people of Kashmir in public meetings and elsewhere. India is legally and morally bound to pave the way for the implementation of these resolutions and not create hurdles in honouring them.
There is no justification for it to back out of the commitments it had made to the international community and float new-fangled theories like atoot ang. The international community, which goes about preaching the principle of government of the people, by the people and for the people should also pressurise this so-called great democracy to abide by these resolutions. The world, in fact, is party to the UNSC resolutions and obliged to ensure that the Kashmiris get their birthright of casting their vote to determine their future.
India’s enforced bondage is costing the people of Kashmir dearly. The pity is that while New Delhi’s 700,000-strong security force in the Valley commits untold excesses against them, the world looks the other way, downplaying the unbiased accounts of their miseries complied by international human rights agencies. Shooting down unarmed protestors, disappearances, accounts of torture and rape – all have remained largely out of the view of world public, thanks to the lure of India’s growing market for Western governments and its perceived strategic importance in the game of global influence.
But the spirit of solidarity with the Kashmiris calls upon Pakistan to remain steadfast in espousing their cause, rather Pakistan’s own natural interests, without any fear. There should be no hesitation in extending them moral, political and diplomatic support, highlighting the sufferings of the people of the Valley.
The Pakistan government must realise that the grant of concessions like the MFN to India, without the precondition of the dispute’s just settlement, can only harm the Kashmir cause.
Given centrality of the Kashmir dispute to the Pak-India bilateralism any progress, if and when made on other issues between the two countries, is held hostage to happenings in the occupied Valley and along the Line of Control. While New Delhi is ever keen on improving quality of relationship on other issues it persistently refuses to sit with Pakistan and discuss Kashmir, as dictated by the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions. That kind of obstinacy breathes distrust into their relations keeping them fragile and thereby liable to come to a naught every now and then.
No wonder the transit trade across the LoC has been interrupted for a case of smuggling which could have been sorted out at one single meeting of concerned officials of both the countries, as is the practice everywhere in the world. Much effort may be made to improve cultural contacts, relax travel restrictions and sign new trade protocols it is the lingering dispute of Kashmir that will have the last say.
Rightly then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has once again invited India to a dialogue on Kashmir. Only a just and peaceful resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute “in accordance with the aspirations” of the people of Kashmir he said “is key to lasting peace in South Asia”. Not only India continues to deny Kashmiris their right to self-determination “they are also being subjected to the worst kind of human rights abuses, violence and oppression”.
The National Assembly resolution marking the Kashmir Solidarity Day is no less strident in tone and content by unanimously resolving that if and when Pak-India dialogue takes place the Kashmiris being “original and real party to the dispute should be associated in the dialogue process”. If anybody thought there is an ‘out of the box’ solution of Kashmir dispute and that policy to move from small to big in terms of improving upon bilateral atmospherics will pay peace dividends he is sadly mistaken. India should withdraw its military from Occupied Kashmir, allow a neutral inquiry into unmarked graves found in the area, release all political prisoners, repeal all laws giving special powers to armed forces stationed in there and “hold meaningful, result-oriented and time-bound talks” with Pakistan.
Without sharing the impression that with successive Pakistani governments the Kashmir Solidarity Day is a one-time event and soon enough pledges made on the day fade into nothingness we would like to insist that over time the Kashmir dispute tends to lose primacy on the agenda with India. It is increasingly being treated as one more issue in the long list of unresolved disputes on water sharing, Line of Control violence, terror threats and even nearly-settled issues of Sir Creek and Siachen conflict.
But even on those bilateral issues there is no worthwhile progress – only because unresolved Kashmir dispute is too over-arching an issue and casts its shadow over all others, with New Delhi having honed the art of stoking the fire of mismatching positions on other issues.
It may have softened the sharp edges of our foreign policy and we may be preparing to give Manmohan Singh a grand welcome, but the people in Held Kashmir think differently. Their struggle against Indian occupation remains unrelated. New Delhi’s alternately employed tools of pressure and persuasion has failed to win over the hearts and minds of Kashmiris. The reality on the ground is that over time the generation-old Kashmiri intifada has gained strength and local support big enough that it runs on its own steam.
India has failed to create its political constituency in Held Kashmir despite having put into power dummy after dummy through sham elections – a reality so clearly reflected from the need to maintain huge military presence. As excessive use of force against the people in Held Kashmir remains New Delhi’s only option not much notice of this ongoing apocalypse is being taken by the international community and public opinion. This should change; it is against the spirit of the time we live.