Why to observe Kashmir Solidarity Day?04.02.2009 12:44
Pakistanis across the globe, observe 5th February, every year since 1991, as a day to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir who have been struggling and rendering unparalleled sacrifices to achieve their birthright, the right to self-determination, for the last over six decades.
Like always, this year too, the people of Pakistan will hold seminars, conferences and demonstrations to reaffirm their political, moral and diplomatic support to the people of occupied Kashmir. During these activities all-important dimensions of the Kashmir dispute would be highlighted and the human rights violations being perpetuated by Indian troops against the people of Kashmir would be projected in a factual manner.
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 after a century of British Rule. According to the Indian Independence Act and Partition Plan of June 3, 1947, passed by the British Parliament on July 18, the same year, the Indian British Colony was to be divided into two sovereign states. The Hindu-majority areas were to form India and the Muslim-majority areas of Western provinces and east Bengal 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 87% Muslim population, Kashmir had a natural tendency to accede to Pakistan, but the evil designs of its then Hindu ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh and the Indian National Congress paved way to destroy the future of millions of people of Kashmir. India occupied the State by landing its Army there on October 27, 1947, in quite disregard to the spirit of the partition plan and against Kashmiris’ aspirations.
The people of Kashmir did not accept Indian illegal occupation right from the day one and have been carrying on their liberation struggle since. They started an armed struggle supported by a public uprising. On January 1, 1948, sensing the defeat to its forces, India approached the United Nations Security Council, which in its successive resolutions, accepted by both Pakistan and India, approved a ceasefire, demarcation of ceasefire line, demilitarization of the State and asked for a free and impartial plebiscite to be conducted by 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 (ceasefire) was implemented while demilitarization of the territory and holding of plebiscite under the UN umbrella remains unimplemented till date.
India’s first head of State, Lord Mountbatten, is on record having said on October 27, 1947, that since the “question of accession [of Kashmir] should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the state, it is my government’s wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir... the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.”
Again, one of India’s founding fathers and 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 bona fides, 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 providing the people of Kashmir with right of self-determination.
The people of the occupied territory, after seeing the failure of all peaceful means aimed at settling the Kashmir dispute, started a massive uprising in 1989 to secure their right to self-determination which gained momentum with every passing day forcing India to sit around the negotiation table with Pakistan. But the most lamentable aspect of the picture is that while Pakistan demonstrated considerable flexibility in the dialogue process, Indian intransigent approach continued to remain the biggest obstacle in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
Despite the continuation of the dialogue process between India and Pakistan and the initiation of the Confidence Bbuilding Measures (CBMs) between the two countries and across the Line of Control (LoC), the ground situation in the occupied territory remains unchanged as Indian State terrorism against the innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir goes on unchecked. Indian troops have broken all records of human rights violations by killing innocent people, arresting youth, disgracing and harassing women and setting residential houses ablaze with impunity. The troops have martyred over ninety-two thousand civilians in occupied Kashmir, killed above seven thousand in custody, widowed more than twenty five thousand women, orphaned over one hundred thousand children and molested around ten thousand Kashmiri women during the past 20 years. The whereabouts of thousands of innocent Kashmiris, disappeared in troops’ custody, are yet to be made known.
Ironically, instead of taking the mammoth anti-India protest demonstrations in the second half of the year 2008 as Kashmiris’ referendum against the Indian illegal occupation of their soil, India staged another election drama to hoodwink the international community and to impose another puppet administration on Kashmiris. During over a month-long election process the occupation authorities placed the entire Hurriyet leadership in jails or under house arrest and kept the entire Kashmir Valley under siege.
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. Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani have been repeatedly saying that Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris and they are the arbiters of their fate.
Historically speaking there are several reasons behind Pakistan and its people to express solidarity with Kashmiris. Most striking among those are the common cultural, ideological, geographical and emotional bonds, which for centuries have tied the people of both the areas into one unity. Moreover, the people of Pakistan rightly feel that Kashmir is the unfinished business of the partition of the subcontinent.
The core issue of Kashmir, between India and Pakistan, has led Pakistan to face four wars including that of Kargil and both the countries are yet again on the verge of war after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008. During the last sixty one years, Pakistan had to put aside a major chunk of its financial resources to boost up its defence to prevent the looming threat to its security due to its support to Kashmiris’ inalienable right of self-determination, approved by the United Nations and international community. Moreover, acquiring nuclear capability by India and Pakistan also raised alarms across the world capitals and the world declared Kashmir a nuclear flashpoint. Even Barack Obama, the newly elected President of the United States, has stressed the need to resolve the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan to avoid any eventuality, which may cause a catastrophe in the region.
This is the context of observing the Solidarity Day. Thus the 5th of February is a day to acknowledge Kashmiris’ struggle for justice, peace, truth and basic human rights. The purpose of observing this day is meant to send a variety of signals to a varying audience: To the Kashmiris, “we are with you through thick and thin”, to the world at large, “nothing but justice can help make this planet a safe abode for the entire human population” and to New Delhi, “oppression may prolong but not sustain.”
M Raza Malik
The writer is a Senior News Editor at Kashmir Media Service and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org