By Mazhar Javed
Huge rallies and Seminars in support of right of self determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir across the world every year on 5 February are a sad reminder of the continued denial of that right to the peopleof Jammu and Kashmir.
This year the Solidarity Day reminds us of an exceptionally painful chapter in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. The situation there escalated in July 2016 with the martyrdom of young freedom leader BurhanWani. Since then the atrocities committed by the Security Forces have led to 120 deaths of innocent men, women and children and injuries to more than 20,000. Pellet guns targeting faces of protestors rendered hundreds of young people including school children permanently blind. Prolonged curfews led to shortages of food and medicines creating a humanitarian crisis. All efforts were made to make this air of impunity a ‘No Go Area’ for international human rights organizations and journalists ; yet some news of such brutalities did reach the free world.
Even these scanty reports that could permeate out of the Indian Occupied Kashmiralarmed everyone.Within weeks after the situation escalated there, New York Times described the situation as “a state of siege under a strict curfew with access to basic communication … cut off “. New York Times reported that more than 100, mostly young, are threatened with blindness by pellet guns in their eyes”. The daily called the Indian Security Forces’ high handedness a “culture of brutal disdain for the local population”.
History of Jammu and Kashmir dispute dates back to 1948, i.e. soon after the creation of Pakistan and India in 1947.It is an unfinished agenda of the partition. While taking a view of the historical details and international law perspective of the dispute would be beyond the scope of this column, suffice it would be to say that when India took the matter to the United Nations, UN passed several resolutions to guarantee the right of self determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir through a fair and impartial plebiscite.
Seven decades – or three generations – since these resolutions were passed in New York, the plebiscite has still not been held because of India’s refusal to implement the resolutions. India itself was not only a party to these commitments, but its leadership had, for years, publicly been reiterating their country’s commitment to hold the plebiscite.
All these years, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have,persistently and peacefully, struggled for their right of self determination. Instead of holding the promised plebiscite, India opted to suppress their struggle through brutal force; hoping for ‘the impossible’; that force would suppress freedom struggle. Contrary to that false hope, Jammu and Kashmir saw a strong and persistent struggle that would find few parallels in history. The just nature of their cause, steadfastness and valiance of Kashmiri people needs solidarity.
This struggle is a chapter in human history that is written in blood. Since 1989, when the struggle gained a new momentum, over 101566 unarmed civilians, including men, women and children have lost their lives.107702 houses and shops set on fire, 10808women raped and 22828 women widowed. And amidst all this misery and trauma, the suppressive measures could not overcome valiance; history tells us it never does! Their peaceful struggle continued unabated. Over a million strong rallies in 2008 were one of the many loud and clear expressions of the Kashmiri resolve to continue the struggle till success.
Today, Jammu and Kashmir remains one of the oldest unresolved items on the agenda of the UN. Young school children being blinded by the Indian Security Forces today are the grandchildren of those who celebrated the promise of plebiscite in 1948. The international community that made these promises must fulfill them.
Rallies and Seminars held on 5 February every year carry different meanings and message for different people. For the people of Kashmir it is a message that in their just and peaceful struggle for freedom, they are not alone. For Pakistanis it is a reiteration of its resolve to stand by their brethren in Jammu and Kashmir; morally politically and diplomatically.
For the international Community it is a reminder of the promise that it had made to the people of Jammu and Kashmir for their right to self determination through a free and fair plebiscite; for all freedom loving people it is day that stokes their consciousness asking for their vocal support for freedom and protecting the dignity, life and human rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. And for the historians of today and tomorrow, this Day is a revisit of the age old lesson of history, just struggle for freedom cannot be suppressed by force.
Kashmir Solidarity Day calls upon all those who stand for peace and freedom to raise and unite their voices and to work for seeking an end to serious human rights violations being committed in Jammu and Kashmir and fulfill the promise of their right of self determination made to them seven decades ago.
(Text of the address by the Pakistani ambassador at the interaction programmeorganised on the Kashmir Solidarity Day, 5 February.)