Muhammad Raza Malik
Kashmiris have been rendering unparalleled sacrifices since 1947 in their indigenous struggle to get freedom from the illegal occupation of India. During all this period, Pakistan is the only country of the world that has extended all-out support to the just cause of the Kashmiri people. The government and people of Pakistan, at home and across the world, observe the Kashmir Solidarity Day on 5th February, every year, to reaffirm the pledge to continue their support to their Kashmiri brethren who are carrying on a peaceful struggle to achieve their inalienable right to self-determination promised to them by the international community including India.
The observance of the day since 1990 is aimed at conveying a strong message to usurper India that the Kashmiris are not alone in their just struggle and sooner or later it will have to give them their right to choose their fate by themselves as granted by the UN resolutions. Pakistanis on this day hold seminars, conferences and demonstrations. Through these activities important aspects of the Kashmir dispute and the gross human rights violations being perpetrated by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir are highlighted. At the same time, the world community is reminded that settlement of the Kashmir dispute is imperative for sustainable peace and stability in South Asia.
There are many legitimate and genuine reasons for the people of Pakistan to express solidarity with their oppressed Kashmiri brethren because both share strong bonds in respect of religion, geography, culture, aspirations and economy. It is a historical fact that India had illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir by landing its troops in Srinagar on 27th October, 1947, against the wishes of the Kashmiri people and in total disregard to the Partition Plan of the Indian subcontinent that had resulted in the formation of two new independent counties - Pakistan and India. The Partition Plan had given all the Princely States the choice to accede to either of the two countries. Being a Muslim majority State, Jammu and Kashmir was destined to become part of Pakistan, but Indian rulers in connivance with the British rulers and Maharaja Hari Singh destroyed the future of millions of Kashmiris under the so-called “Instrument of Accession” document. Many neutral observers including renowned British historian, Alistair Lamb, reject the existence of any such document with the argument that had it been there, India would have made it pubic at some national or international forum.
Since 1947, India’s brutal occupation has been the cause of continued sufferings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Due to the atrocities of Indian troops, hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri people have migrated to Pakistan from the occupied territory and main driving force behind their movement has been their strong emotional attachment to the country. This affiliation has been accepted even by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. When asked a question in 1965 about holding of plebiscite in Kashmir, he had responded, “Kashmiris would vote to join Pakistan and we would lose it. No Indian government responsible for agreeing to a plebiscite would survive.”
Similarly, the ideological cohesion between Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir can well be gauged from the fact that the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference had passed a resolution in its meeting in Srinagar on 19th July, 1947, in favour of accession of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan. This development had happened about a month before the creation of Pakistan. The slogans like “Pakistan Zindabad” and “We want Pakistan” raised by the people of the occupied territory from time to time depict the unfathomable affection of the Kashmiris with 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.
The leaders of Pakistan never betrayed the faith reposed on them by the Kashmiri people. It was his commitment to the interests of the Kashmiri people that drove father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, to visit Jammu and Kashmir three times before 1947 (in 1926, 1936 and 1944). He had rightly said that Kashmir is the “Jugular Vein” of Pakistan. Former Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, had vowed to wage a thousand-year war for Kashmir. The Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, has time and again called for settlement of the conflict over Kashmir in accordance with the Kashmiris’ aspirations for ensuring durable peace in South Asia. Prime Minister, Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, right from assuming office in June 2013 has been calling for settling all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India including the conflict over Kashmir through peaceful dialogue process. He participated in the oath-taking ceremony of Narendra Modi with the hope that the move would help the two countries end their differences. Later, he even refused to resume talks with India which were suspended by New Delhi in August 2014 on the pretext of meetings in the Indian capital between Pakistani High Commissioner, Abdul Basit and the Kashmiri Hurriyet leaders. This shows that Pakistan would not engage with India at the cost of the interests of Kashmiri people.
The deplorable aspect of the matter is that on one side, India wants to put pressure on Pakistan so that it stops supporting the Kashmir cause, while on the other, it has been employing brutal 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, Indian troops have killed nearly one lac innocent Kashmiris and subjected thousands to custodial disappearance. During the mass uprising in occupied Kashmir from 2008 to 2010, hundred of thousands of people took to the streets in Srinagar and other towns of occupied Kashmir with the demand of their inalienable right. However, instead of showing respect to the sentiments of these people, Indian forces’ personnel responded with use of brute force, killing over two hundred people during the period. At the same time New Delhi is staging election dramas in occupied Kashmir to mislead the world opinion about the Kashmir dispute and the prevailing deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied territory. The present Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, even takes a more harsh stand. He talks of abrogating the Article 370 of Indian Constitution that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir. He has a totally anti-Kashmir agenda of a complete integration of the territory with India and also to change the demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, the international community is turning a blind eye to India’s actions in Kashmir resulting in the continued sufferings of the Kashmiri people.
In view of this harsh reality that the Kashmir has become a nuclear flashpoint as it involves two nuclear-armed neighbours - Pakistan and India - it is responsibility of the world community to realize the sensitivity of the issue. It must take cognizance of the fact that due to India’s unrealistic and intransigent attitude, the peace and stability of the entire South Asia are at stake.
These are the reasons for observance of the Kashmir Solidarity Day. 5th February is a reminder to the world powers that they should use their influence on New Delhi to settle the conflict over Kashmir. At the same time the supreme sacrifices of Kashmiri people needed to be acknowledged besides India warrants to be censured for disrespecting the UN resolutions and continued human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. The 5th February reminds the world about the urgency involved in an early resolution of the Kashmir dispute for the global peace, security and prosperity.