Since 1991, Pakistanis from around the world, observe the 5th of February as a day to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir, who have been the victims of the worst Indian state terrorism for struggling and rendering unparalleled sacrifices to achieve their birth right, the right to self-determination, for the past six decades. There are several reasons why Pakistan and its people express solidarity with Kashmiris. The most striking is the strong cultural, religious and geographical bond which for centuries has tied the people of both areas into one unity. Moreover, the people of Pakistan rightly feel that Kashmir is the unfinished business of the partition of the subcontinent.
To understand the importance of the observance of Kashmir Solidarity Day, one needs to understand the history of India’s occupation of Kashmir, which dates back to the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 after a century of British rule. According to the Partition Plan of June 3, 1947, the subcontinent was to be divided into two sovereign states. The Hindu-majority areas were to form India and the Muslim-majority areas were to be included in the state of Pakistan.
Under the criterion of partition, the princely states had to accede either to Pakistan or to India, keeping in consideration the geographical situation and communal demography. Being a Muslim-majority state, with an 87% Muslim population, Kashmir had a natural tendency to accede to Pakistan, but the evil designs of its then Hindu ruler and the Indian National Congress paved the way to destroy the future of millions of people of Kashmir. India occupied the state by deploying its army there on October 27, 1947, in total disregard to the spirit of the partition plan and against the Kashmiris’ aspirations.
The people of Kashmir did not accept the illegal Indian occupation from day one and have been conducting their liberation struggle ever since. They started an armed struggle supported by a public uprising. On January 1, 1948, realizing that its troops could be defeated by the Kashmiri Mujahedeen (freedom fighters), India approached the United Nations Security Council, which in its successive resolutions, accepted by both Pakistan and India, approved a ceasefire, demarcation of a ceasefire line, and demilitarization of the state and called for a free and impartial plebiscite to be conducted under the supervision of the UN. The demarcation of ceasefire resulted in dividing Kashmir into two parts, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Indian Occupied Kashmir. Phase one of the UN resolutions — the ceasefire — was implemented while demilitarization of the territory and the holding of a plebiscite under the UN umbrella remains unimplemented till this day. One of India’s founding fathers and its first prime minister, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, whose government took the Kashmir issue to the United Nations, told the Indian Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1947: ‘In order to establish our bonafides, we have suggested that, when the people (of Kashmir) are given the chance to decide their future, this should be done under the supervision of an impartial tribunal such as the United Nations. ‘On June 26, 1952, Nehru told Indian parliament, ‘If … the people of Kashmir do not wish to remain with us, let them go by all means; we will not keep them against their will, however painful it may [be] for us.’
The most deplorable aspect of the Kashmir dispute is that India itself had taken the issue to the United Nations but later backed away from the promises it had made in front of the international community regarding the settlement of the dispute and allowing the people of Kashmir the right to self-determination.
India has committed numerous human rights violations in Kashmir. And still it tries to project itself as a secular and peaceful democracy. If India is so confident that the people of Kashmir have full faith in the Indian Constitution and that the overwhelming participation of Kashmiris in recent elections is proof of that, and then let it hold a plebiscite in line with the decades-old UN resolutions. What is India afraid of? All we are asking is to grant Kashmiris the right to decide for themselves.
Freedom of thought and expression is the most fundamental of human rights. There are a few countries in the world that claim to be democratic but are actually barbaric. They hide their war crimes by using their official and private media as a war machine. India is one of these countries, which has used all types of brutal force against Kashmiris but has been evading criticism because of the worst press censorship. To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable.
Despite committing grave human rights violations, India tries to deceive the world by presenting itself as a “secular and the largest” democracy. For how long will the world stand by and allow this genocide to continue? UN should wake up to the blatant violations of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter by the Indian troops. These troops have been given a free hand to kill, detain and torture any person irrespective of their age and gender under the draconian and black laws, such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act – 1958, Public Safety Act (PSA) – 1978 and the Jammu And Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act – 1992. Indian forces have killed nearly one hundred thousand innocent Kashmiris. Youth have suffered the most as the Indian troops suspect them to be freedom fighters. Fake encounters, custodial deaths and enforced disappearances are common in the Indian-occupied Kashmir. However, the steadfast Kashmiris are, in fact writing an inspiring golden chapter in their epic history by making supreme sacrifices with the advent of every sunup. Nowhere in the world, has such a ghastly state terrorism existed.
On the other hand Pakistan is very sincere in solving the Kashmir issue. Pakistan has always invited India for starting the peace dialogue again after the 26/11 attacks but India has always run away from it. Pakistan has repeatedly emphasized that it would never accept any option for the resolution of the core issue between Pakistan and India, which goes against Kashmiris’ aspirations. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani have repeatedly said that Kashmir belongs to the Kashmiris and they are the arbiters of their fate.
The core issue of Kashmir, between India and Pakistan, has led Pakistan to face three wars and have devoted a major portion of their national incomes to defense budgets. World leaders have stressed the need to resolve the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan to avoid an eventuality that may cause a catastrophe in the region. Kashmir is the nuclear flash point of Asia, surrounded by three nuclear powers. It is incumbent on the international community in general and governing world bodies in particular to intervene and force India to stop shedding innocent Kashmiri blood. Kashmiris should have the right to decide their fate according to the UN resolutions, which were adopted to resolve the issue. Without any doubt, Kashmir is jugular vein of Pakistan and it cannot evidently abandon it under any conditions. With both the South Asian neighbours armed with nuclear weapons, another conventional war on Kashmir has the potential to turn into a nuclear exchange that could be disastrous not only for South Asia but for the world at large. September 11, 2001 changed the course of history. The formation of the US led alliance to combat terrorism provided the Indians the perfect excuse to turn back on their promise of finding a just and lasting solution to the Kashmir issue based on the wishes of the Kashmiris. They tried to confuse world opinion by pinning the blame on Pakistan for aiding the ‘militants’ through ‘cross-border terrorism’. The observance of the Kashmir Solidarity Day is, thus an unambiguous manifestation of Pakistan’s commitment to the veracity. Thus the 5th of February is a day to acknowledge Kashmiris’ struggle for justice, peace, truth, and fundamental human rights.
By Syed Zaki Ahmad from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia