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Why solidarity with oppressed Kashmiris!

M. Raza Malik

Introduction

The people of Indian occupied Kashmir intensified their struggle for securing their right to self-determination in 1989 and the mass movement gave sleepless nights to the Indian rulers. In a bid to crush this popular movement, India appointed Jagmohan Malhotra as the Governor of the occupied territory on January 19, 1990, dismissing the government of Farooq Abdullah. Jagmohan was already notorious for his anti-Muslim bias and activities in India. Soon after the appointment of new governor, a reign of terror was unleashed in occupied Kashmir and on the night of January 20, Indian troops molested several women in Srinagar during house raids. As the word about the molestation of the women spread in the morning, thousands of people took to the streets in the city to protest against the brutal action of the troops. The occupation forces resorted to indiscriminate firing on the protesters in Gaw Kadal area of the city, killing over 50 people and injuring hundreds of others. The massacre 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 and oneness with the oppressed people of Jammu and Kashmir at the state level.

Pakistan observes a public holiday on the day. Seminars, conferences and demonstrations are held by the government and people of Pakistan to highlight the important aspects of the Kashmir dispute and the gross human rights violations being perpetrated by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir. The Pakistanis and Kashmiris living abroad organise special events in world capitals to remind the international community that settlement of the Kashmir dispute is imperative for sustainable peace and stability in South Asia.

Background of Kashmir dispute: 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 reject the existence of any such document. A prominent British historian, Alistair Lamb, In his book “The Birth of Tragedy”, citing successive events after the partition wrote that the Indian troops had invaded Kashmir prior to the signing of the “Instrument of Accession”. He claims that it was due to this reason that the Indian government never made the document public at any international forum. Noted Kashmiri researchers, Abdul Majid Zargar and Basharat Hussain Qazilbash, proved that the “Instrument of Accession” is fake and no such genuine document ever existed. Even Indian Archives Department has now declared that the document is lost. This has put question marks on the very existence of the document.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir never accepted India’s illegal occupation of their motherland and right from the day one they have been struggling to liberate it from Indian subjugation. Their resistance and resilience 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 01, 1948. The World Body in its successive resolutions, accepted by both Pakistan and India, promised that the people of Kashmir would be given the opportunity to exercise their right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under its supervision. These UN resolutions and the pledges made by Indian leadership remain unimplemented even after the passing of several decades.

Commonality between Pakistan and Kashmir

Pakistan’s affinity with the people of Kashmir can be understood in the backdrop of several reasons. Both share strong bonds in respect of religion, geography, culture and aspirations. The worst kind of Indian state terrorism in occupied Kashmir since 1947 has forced hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri people to migrate to Pakistan from the occupied territory and the main driving force behind their movement has been their strong emotional attachment to the country.

This affiliation has been acknowledged 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.”

The ideological commonality between Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir can be gauged from the fact that the genuine representatives of Kashmiris had attached the future of the territory with Pakistan by passing a resolution in the meeting of their representative party, Muslim Conference Jammu and Kashmir, in Srinagar on 19th July 1947, whereby it was declared that Jammu and Kashmir would be a part of Pakistan. This development had happened about a month before the creation of Pakistan. The people of occupied Kashmir have time and again showed their attachment with Pakistan by raising the slogans of “Long Live Pakistan” and “We want Pakistan.” Hoisting of Pakistani flags during protest demonstrations has become order of the day. Kashmiris celebrate Pakistan’s national days with enthusiasm while those of India are observed as black days.

The reality is that both Pakistanis and Kashmiris consider the Kashmir dispute as an unfinished agenda of the partition of the South Asian sub-continent in 1947 and the liberation struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir as an inseparable part of Pakistan movement.

Kashmiris’ revolt against Indian occupation

The people of occupied Kashmir gave impetus to their struggle to secure their right to self-determination in 1989. This movement gave sleepless nights to the Indian rulers who lost their control, in practical sense, and could not even hold sham elections for the so-called Legislative Assembly and the Indian Parliament in the occupied territory.

They responded this popular movement with the brute military might. Since January 1989 till December 2018, Indian troops have martyred 95,234 Kashmiris, widowed 22,894 women, orphaned 107, 751 children and molested or gang-raped 11,107 Kashmiri women – the rape of women being used as a weapon of war to intimidate the Kashmiris into submission. Over eight thousand innocent youth have been subjected to disappearance in custody and their whereabouts remain untraced. Many of those are feared to be buried in thousands of unmarked graves discovered in the territory after being killed by Indian troops in fake encounters.

Mass uprisings: The Kashmiris’ ongoing freedom movement took a new turn in 2008. For the next three consecutive years, people in thousands kept hitting the streets with the demand of the right to self-determination. However, most of the time, Indian troops and police personnel subjected these peaceful demonstrators to excessive use of brute force, killing more than 200 people during the period.

In the ongoing mass uprising triggered by the extrajudicial killing of popular youth leader, Burhan Wani, on 8th July in 2016, over 760 Kashmiris have been killed and more than 25,300 injured in the firing of pellets, bullets and teargas shells by the Indian forces’ personnel during demonstrations and military operations. More than 340 people including an 18-month-old Hiba Jan have lost their one or both eyes to the pellet injuries while over 1,020 are at the verge of losing their eyesight. Hundreds of people including Hurriyat leaders have been put behind the bars. The Indian police and troops have stepped up cordon and search operations across occupied Kashmir to suppress the uprising and intimidate the people into submission.

Indian state terrorism and other machinations: Despite killing hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris during the past over seventy-one years, India could not subdue the Kashmiris’ resolve for freedom. Narendra Modi-led BJP communal government is hell-bent to completely merge Jammu and Kashmir in India and change the Muslim majority of occupied Kashmir into minority by using its judiciary to abrogate Article 370 and Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution to pave way for giving the citizenship rights of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian people. Indian designs to change demography of Jammu and Kashmir are intended to influence in its favour the results of a referendum whenever held in the territory. As such, the move is against the very purpose of the relevant UN resolutions. At the same time, New Delhi is using its investigating agencies like National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to implicate Hurriyat leaders, activists and pro-freedom people in false cases to force the Kashmiris to surrender their just cause.

Pakistan’s support: The Pakistani leadership has always represented the Kashmiris’ aspirations and never betrayed the faith reposed in it by the Kashmiri people. The Prime Minister, Imran Khan, since assuming his office in August 2018 and the Army Chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, have time and again called for peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute for ensuring durable peace in South Asia. The opening of Kartarpur corridor for the Indian Sikh yatrees to visit their holy places in Pakistan is the manifestation of the Pakistani leaderships’ desire for cordial and friendly relations with India. It is a reality that despite facing the worst Indian military aggression for supporting the Kashmiris during the past several decades, Pakistan never gave up its support to the Kashmir cause and continues to advocate resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the Kashmiris’ aspirations.

The Senate and National Assembly in unanimously passed separate resolutions strongly denounced the massacre of 14 Kashmiris and injuring of over two hundred others by Indian troops in Pulwama district of occupied Kashmir on the 15th of December, 2018. The resolutions urged the international community to play its role in resolving the long-standing Kashmir dispute to bring an end to the bloodshed of Kashmiris at the hands of Indian forces’ personnel.

Promising developments

The unparalleled sacrifices rendered by the people of occupied Kashmir in their just struggle during the past over seven decades have shaken the attention of the world community, which has started to raise its voice in favour of their rights. Many promising developments on Kashmir have taken place during the past few years. The UK Parliament held a debate on the Kashmir situation on January 19, 2017 during which a motion supporting the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination and upholding the UN resolutions on Kashmir was passed. The European Parliament issued a document on July 18, 2018 that highlighted the history of the Kashmir dispute, the UN resolutions on the issue and the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussain, released a report (first of its kind) on June 14, 2018 that highlighted the grave human rights violations perpetrated by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir. The incumbent UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, upheld the position taken by her predecessor, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussain, on the human rights situation in Kashmir. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir in the British Parliament in its report released in October 2018 expressed concern over the human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.

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 needed to be acknowledged besides India warrants to be censured for disrespecting the UN resolutions and continued human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. The observance of the Kashmir Solidarity Day conveys a clear message to India that it would have to recognise the Kashmiris’ right to choose their fate by themselves as granted by the UN resolutions.

razamalik849@yahoo.com