By Muhammad Raza Malik
Genesis of the Solidarity Day
India has been subjecting the people of occupied Kashmir to the worst form of state terrorism since 1947 to suppress their struggle for securing their right to self-determination and to get rid of its illegal occupation. During all this period, Pakistan is the only country of the world that has extended all-out as well as unconditional support to the just cause of the Kashmiris.
The people of Indian occupied Kashmir intensified their liberation struggle in 1989, causing immense frustration to power corridors in India. In order to crush this mass uprising, New Delhi dismissed the government of Farooq Abdullah and imposed Governor’s Rule in occupied Kashmir, appointing Jagmohan Malhotra as the Governor of the occupied territory on January 19, 1990. Jagmohan, who was already notorious for his anti-Muslim bias and activities in India, immediately after assuming charge, ordered the Indian police and troops to deal with the freedom-seeking Kashmiri people strictly. The forces’ personnel unleashed a reign of terror across the occupied territory and on the night of January 20, they molested several women in Srinagar during house-to-house searches. The next morning as the people came to know about the molestation of the women, they took to the streets in the city in thousands to protest against the barbarity of the troops. The occupation forces massacred over 50 people and injured hundreds of others by opening indiscriminate fire on these protesters in Gaw Kadal area of the city. The carnage caused resentment in Pakistan and the ensuing 5th February was declared as a solidarity day all across the country. Since then, every year, the day is being observed to express unity with the oppressed people of Jammu and Kashmir at the state level. On this public holiday in Pakistan, seminars, conferences and demonstrations are organised to highlight important aspects of the Kashmir dispute and the gross human rights violations being committed by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir. The overseas Pakistanis and Kashmiris arrange special events in world capitals to remind the international community that resolution of the lingering dispute is imperative for ensuring peace and stability in South Asia.
History of Kashmir dispute
In order to understand the importance of the Kashmir Solidarity Day one needs to understand the history of India’s occupation on Kashmir, which dates back to the partition of the Indian Subcontinent. According to Partition Plan in 1947, the Indian British Colony was to be divided into two sovereign states – India and Pakistan. Hindu-majority areas were to form India while the Muslim-majority areas of Western provinces and East Bengal were to constitute Pakistan. The partition plan had given the princely states the choice to accede either to Pakistan or to India, keeping in view their geographic and demographic considerations. As Jammu and Kashmir was a Muslim-majority state, with 87% Muslim population, it had a natural tendency to accede to Pakistan. But the then Hindu ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh and the Indian National Congress by announcing Kashmir’s accession with India under a well thought out conspiracy ruined the future of Kashmiri people. India landed its troops in the territory by totally violating the Partition Plan and against the aspirations of the Kashmiris.
Right from the day one, the people of Jammu and Kashmir never accepted India’s illegal occupation of their motherland and they have been struggling to liberate it from Indian subjugation. Their liberation struggle forced India to seek the help of the international community to settle the Kashmir dispute. Sensing a humiliating defeat to its forces, it approached the United Nations Security Council on January 1, 1948. The World Body in its successive resolutions, accepted by both Pakistan and India, promised that a free and impartial plebiscite would be conducted under its supervision and the people of Kashmir would be given the opportunity to decide their future themselves. These UN resolutions and the pledges made by Indian leadership remain unimplemented even after the passing of several decades.
Factors behind solidarity
There are many legitimate and genuine reasons for the people of Pakistan to express solidarity with their subjugated Kashmiri brethren because both share strong bonds in respect of religion, geography, culture, aspirations and economy. The matter of fact is that the Kashmir dispute is considered both by Pakistanis and Kashmiris as an unfinished agenda of the partition of the Indian subcontinent and the liberation struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir as an inseparable part of Pakistan Movement.
The number of Kashmiris who migrated to Pakistan from occupied Kashmir since 1947 due to Indian aggression is in hundreds of thousands, which shows emotional attachment of Kashmiri people with Pakistan. Even when India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was asked a question in 1965 about holding of plebiscite in Kashmir, he responded, “Kashmiris would vote to join Pakistan and we would lose it. No Indian government responsible for agreeing to a plebiscite would survive.” Also it was the ideological commonality that prompted the Muslim Conference of Jammu and Kashmir to pass a resolution in its meeting in Srinagar on 19th July 1947, whereby it was declared that Jammu and Kashmir should become a part of Pakistan. This happened about a month before the creation of Pakistan. The attachment of the people of Kashmir is manifest from the fact that the Valley of Kashmir has been from time to time, reverberating with the slogans of “Long Live Pakistan” and “We Want 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.
Pakistan’s unwavering support
On the other side, the leadership of Pakistan has always represented the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and never betrayed the faith reposed on it by them. The commitment to the interest of the Kashmiri people had prompted the father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to visit Jammu and Kashmir three times before 1947 (in 1926, 1936 and 1944). During his visits, he had tried to convince the Kashmiri leadership to become a part of the Pakistan Movement as the people of the territory were civilizationally linked with the Muslims of South Asia. He had also rightly termed Kashmir as the “Jugular Vein” of Pakistan. Former Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, had vowed to wage a thousand-year war for Kashmir. Prime Minister, Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, and recently retired Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, time and again advocated settlement of the conflict over Kashmir in accordance with the Kashmiris’ aspirations in line with the relevant UN resolutions for ensuring durable peace in South Asia. Even the incumbent Chief of Army Staff, Qamar Javed Bajwa, has expressed concern over the atrocities of Indian troops in occupied Kashmir. It is also a fact that despite being the victim of Indian military aggression for supporting the Kashmiris during the past over seven decades, Pakistan never gave up its support to the Kashmir cause and continues to advocate resolution of the dispute to the satisfaction of the Kashmiri people.
Ironically, India projects itself as the largest democracy of the world but it is using every undemocratic method to continue its illegal hold on Jammu and Kashmir. On one hand, it wants to compel Pakistan to give up its support to the Kashmiri people, while on the other, it has been resorting to the worst kind of state terrorism in occupied Kashmir to intimidate the Kashmiris into submission. Since 1989, when the people of Kashmir gave impetus to their liberation struggle, the unabated Indian state terrorism has resulted in the killing of nearly one hundred thousand innocent Kashmiris and disappearance of thousands in custody. This vicious cycle of killing has rendered over twenty-five thousand women widowed and around a hundred and ten thousand children orphaned.
The extrajudicial killing of popular youth leader, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, by Indian troops on July 8, 2016, triggered massive anti-India and pro-freedom demonstrations. However, India got unnerved by the mass uprising as it proved its propaganda of Kashmir struggle being a terrorist activity false and established the indigenous nature of the movement. Indian troops responded with brute force, killing more than 115 innocent civilians, injuring over 16,000 and blinding hundreds others by firing bullets, pellets and teargas shells on peaceful protesters. More than ten thousand people including Hurriyet leaders, activists and youth were detained and many of them were booked under the black law, Public Safety Act. Earlier, Indian forces had reacted in the same brutal manner to the forceful demonstrations during 2008 to 2010 – when hundreds of thousands of people had thronged the streets of Srinagar and other towns of the occupied territory with the demand of right to self-determination. It is unfortunate that instead of taking the massive demonstrations as referendum against its rule, New Delhi continues to suppress the aspirations of the Kashmiri people through military might. It is also a reality that despite using all kinds of brutal tactics, it has failed to suppress the freedom sentiment of the people of Kashmir and they are determined to carry forward their ongoing freedom movement to its logical conclusion at all costs.
Alongside continuing its state terrorism, India is also staging election dramas from time to time in occupied Kashmir to mislead the world opinion about the Kashmir dispute and the prevailing deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied territory. The Narendra Modi-led present Indian government is hell-bent upon the complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India and changing its demographic composition by abrogating Article 370 and Article 35-A of Indian constitution that grant special status to the territory. It has started issuing domicile certificates to non-Kashmiri Hindus to settle them in Jammu region to convert the Muslim majority of the occupied territory into minority. The objective is to change the Muslim majority character of the territory to minority. Unfortunately, the international community is turning a blind eye to India’s actions in occupied Kashmir resulting in the continued sufferings of the Kashmiri people.
Conclusion Given the fact that the Kashmir dispute involves two nuclear powers and a small incident can prove disastrous for the entire South Asia, it is high time for the world community to take steps towards addressing this contentious problem. It needs to understand that due to the unrealistic and intransigent approach of India, the peace of the entire region is at stake. 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 must be acknowledged and India should 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. All the peace and justice loving nations of the world must come together to express practical solidarity with the oppressed people of occupied Kashmir.
(The writer is working as Senior Editor at Kashmir Media Service, Islamabad, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)