South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

The Significance of ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’
By: Bassam Javed

In a show of allegiance to Kashmiris for their right to self determination, Pakistan observes every 5th of February as ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’. To remind the international community on the pending Kashmir cause, the day is also celebrated abroad as well to draw global attention towards plight of the Kashmiris. Seminars, newspaper supplements and debates are organized under the auspices of Ministry of Kashmir Affairs to reassure Kashmiris that Pakistan remains eternally intertwined to their cause. In Pakistan, the day heralds with special prayers for those thousands of Kashmiris who have resisted Indian Military Forces tyranny and state oppression for the last six decades. The agony for Kashmiris continues. Over 100000 Kashmiris have laid their lives since 1989 in pursuit of their legitimate demands. To squelch the sustained Kashmiri struggle, India has deployed over 700000 military troops in the Valley. Amnesty International has documented innumerable incidents of human rights violations, burning of villages, mass rapes, summary executions and torture as a common norm practiced by Indian military forces in Kashmir

To understand the dynamics of observing ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ one needs to peep into the history to learn how Indians occupied Kashmir. When the sub-continent was being divided, it was decided by the Boundary Commission that the princely states had to accede to either Pakistan or India vis-à-vis their geographical location and communal demography. With 87% of Muslim population, Kashmir was naturally to join Pakistan under the partition formula but for Indian mischief, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir was forced to accede the state to India. The Maharaja signed the accession to India document in October 1947 and since that fateful day Kashmiris continue to struggle to exercise their right of self determination. Strange as it may sound, the world conscience remains oblivious of the plight and multiple violations of human rights by Indian armed forces despite Kashmiris raising their voices at international forums. One such forum is the United Nations where India had itself taken the Kashmir issue that eventually transformed into an internationally recognized dispute between India and Pakistan.

Whereas the International community with United States in the lead continues to intervene in regional and international conflicts that threaten the world peace, it has ironically proved impotent on the necessity of solving the long pending Kashmir dispute between two nuclear rivals. One reason for not pressing Indians to resolve Kashmir dispute with Pakistan is India’s huge economic market. In a world that struggles to come out of deep recession, the major powers vie to grab major chunk of economic opportunities that India has to offer. Had the Kashmir issue been resolved under the United Nations resolutions earlier, the growing violent streaks in the regional polity could have been prevented. The deprivation of human rights in Kashmir by India and its security forces has given rise to militancy and extremism in Kashmir where the valiant young generation of Kashmiris have no option but to resort to armed struggle to snatch their rights. That struggle continues to-date. For the reason that tribal warriors from the region’s northern boundaries had actively participated in the first war over Kashmir, the Kashmiri Mujahedeen reciprocated and supported Afghan Mujahedeen in their struggle against the Soviets and the Americans. Their struggle against the foreign occupiers continues to attract like minded regional elements who voluntarily join them to fight the occupational forces in Kashmir and Afghanistan.

The issue remains disputed between Pakistan and India. Pakistan stands for solution of Kashmir dispute as per the aspirations of Kashmiris and under the pending UN’s Kashmir resolution. India insists that the issue has become bilateral under 1972 Shimla Agreement and will be solved accordingly. The Indian defiance of UN Security Council Resolution on Kashmir granting them the right to self determine their destiny is a challenge for the international community. At the same time it is a matter of shame for the United Nations Organization as it fails to force India follow Security Council’s Resolution. The United States the lead actor and the flag bearer of human rights, must act to address Kashmiris agony. President Obama has taken over the US presidency for the second time. His campaign agenda that won him the presidency for the first time included promises to work towards settlement of Kashmir dispute. He is yet to show that resolve. Without attending to the issue, the world community is breeding militancy in the region threatening world peace. Would we live to another day to see Kashmiris living as per their wishes? It depends on when the international community realizes the sensitivity of the issue and join hands in glove to compel India to resolve the dispute and avoid an eventuality that may be catastrophic not only for the region but also for the world.