Monday, 8 February 2016

Kashmir Solidarity Day observed with national zeal

Kashmir Solidarity Day observed with national zeal:

By: Raja Asad Azad

Kashmir Solidarity Day was first observed in 1990 on the call of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was then opposition leader and chief minister of Punjab. Keeping in view the importance of the issue, the federal government headed by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto declared February, 5 as a public holiday. Thus the day, with bipartisan support, became a national event. With the passage of time it has evolved into a global event. The day is dedicated to show support and unity with the people of Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IoK), their ongoing freedom struggle, and to pay homage to the martyrs who lost their lives while fighting for Kashmir’s freedom from Indian misrule.
Keeping in view Indian Prime Minister Modi’s machinations to unilaterally alter the status of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoK), the upcoming solidarity day on February 5, has become of special significance. Foreign Secretary of Pakistan has briefed the Ambassadors of the P-5 countries and the EU, based in Islamabad, on recent developments about Kashmir. Referring to the indigenous struggle of the Kashmiris, the Foreign Secretary reaffirmed Pakistan’s unflinching political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people. He emphasized that resolution of the Kashmir dispute was pivotal for ensuring peace, security and stability in the region.
Numerous UNSC resolutions (around 20) on Kashmir are gathering dust despite the fact that each year UNGA reaffirms the continuation of the Kashmir dispute. Interestingly, it is not a territory focused dispute, it relates to humanitarians issue and can be easily resolved through democratic process of allowing the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their choice through an impartial vote. Recently Scotland and the Catalans exercised this right. Earlier, people of East Timor and South Sudan were given this right.
Only viable option is to settle this humanitarian issue in accordance with the UNSC resolutions. Pending UN resolutions need to be implemented and for this an enabling environment should be provided by the UNSC. Elections in IoK are not a substitute of the UN monitored plebiscite. These elections have never been conducted in a free and fair manner. There have been powerful and credible voices from within India, exposing the manipulative electoral process in IoK. Of these, latest one is a statement by a former Indian Army Chief and currently Minster of State for Foreign Affairs—VK Singh, highlighting the use of money during all elections in IoK. Apart from these farcical elections, India has been making desperate efforts to alter the ground situation through demographic changes and dilution of Article 370 of Indian Constitution that gives special status to IoK.
There are continuous human rights violations by the Indian forces in IoK. Human rights organizations like: United Nations Council on Human Rights, Asia Watch, Amnesty International, and even Indian HR organizations have continuously been raising voices about the way Kashmiris are being treated by Indian security outfits.
Pakistani government as well as the Pakistani people have always stood by their commitment on the issue of Kashmir. Pakistan’s domestic as well as foreign policy has always been directed towards resolution of Kashmir issue as per the aspirations of Kashmiri people. The cause of Kashmir stands at the highest priority for Pakistan. On international fora including the UN as well as its agencies and the Human Rights Organizations of the world, Pakistan has always advocated the right of self-determination for the people of Kashmir vehemently.
On the contrary, India has always denied the right of freedom to the innocent Kashmiri masses and tried to suppress their voice through extra-judicialImass killings, arbitrary arrests, ruthless and inhuman torture and sexual molestation using the instrument of Indian security forces. According to statistics, in last twenty four years 93,979 innocent Kashminis have been martyred, 1,07,466 children orphaned, 10,084 women raped and 7,014 Kashmiris have been killed in custody. The discovery of unidentified mass graves in Kashmir is also another darkest chapter of human rights violations in 10K. In defiance to all international humanitarian laws, India is still continuing with its oppressive policies.
Observance of 5 February stands as a milestone which signifies that Kashmiris are not alone in their genuine struggle for the right of self determination.

At this moment of its heightened national hubris, India unrealistically expects Pakistan to relent on its principled stance on Kashmir. In this context Solidarity Day has attained special significance. The day should be celebrated with added fervor to convey a message to the people of IoK that Pakistan would continue to support them in their struggle for right of self-determination.