Kashmir Solidarity Day

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Ahead of the Kashmir Solidarity Day that is traditionally observed on February 5 across the country, the Senate of Pakistan on Friday passed a unanimous resolution expressing solidarity with Kashmiris. While calling on the international community to ensure the human rights of Kashmiris by making India accountable for its unabated war crimes, the resolution condemned the unilateral Indian actions that are in violation of international legal norms, human rights laws, and relevant UN resolutions on Kashmir which promises the right to self-determination to Kashmiris.  Taking to her Twitter handle after presiding over the session, Hindu Senator Krishna Kumari Kohli wrote that she was “honored” to chair the session. Indeed, the session chaired by a Hindu Senator is a clear indication of the fact that while Muslims are increasingly being persecuted in India, Pakistan is making great strides in ensuring minority rights and politically empowering women representation Hindu minority in Pakistan. Significantly, the resolution will be disseminated globally to draw attention to the plight of Kashmiris under the illegal Indian occupation.

Pakistan observes Kashmir Solidarity Day not only to reaffirm its unflinching and all-out support to Kashmiris but also to sensitize the global political community including the international human rights organizations to take stock of the worsening human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Of course, the day is also celebrated as a tribute to the heroes, martyrs, and defenders of Kashmir’s right to self-determination as well their resilience. While Pakistan is the primary champion of the Kashmir Solidarity Day, it is celebrated all across the world by those who believe in a just and peaceful world where human rights of all and sundry are respected and protected.

Thus, on this occasion, the people in various parts of the now politically fragmented, divided, and occupied region on both sides of the divisive Line of Control observe the Kashmir Solidarity Day in a bid to remind the UN Security Council of its long-standing obligation to honor its promises, by implementing its resolution of 5th January 1949. The resolution upholds the inalienable right of the citizens of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir to self-determination, through a fair and impartial plebiscite under the auspicious of the UN. On the other hand, February 5th marks Kashmir Solidarity Day.

Rallies, seminars, conferences, and protests are held across the world to highlight the mounting human rights violations in what is now dubbed the largest open-air prison on earth. And as usual, the international community and human rights organizations will “take notice” of the abysmal human rights situation and “express serious concern”, but paying lip service to the cause of the Kashmir freedom struggle has not led to any respite in the Kashmiris suffering and the issue remains unaddressed as India seems unaffected by the concerns of the international community.

Similarly, the repeated offers of talks and dialogue by Pakistan to amicably resolve all bilateral issues, including the internationally recognized and protracted Kashmir have not yielded any significant results.  Pakistan has been seeking an immediate redressal of the lingering Kashmir issue, the raison d’etre of its conflict with India, and the cause of many other regional traditional and non-traditional human security issues. However, India’s belligerent attitude towards Pakistan and its hegemonic policies in the South Asian region only undermine the existing mechanism for dialogue on Kashmir and imperil prospects for peace.

Sadly enough, even after seven decades since the bloody partition of the sub-continent in 1947, the people of Kashmir remain politically marginalized and oppressed under the Indian occupation forces who commit human rights violations with complete impunity. The future of Kashmir remains criminally undecided by the UN and the international community. Without any breakthrough or immediate solution in sight, the unresolved Kashmir dispute threatens to fester and undermine any efforts and gains concerning the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adding fuel to the fire, the conflicting narratives, and positions of Pakistan and India render the conflict transformation and conflict resolution initiatives a daunting challenge at best. The two South Asian nuclear powers are locked in this protracted dispute and have fought wars turning the region into a nuclear flashpoint. Frequent skirmishes on the border in the wake of India’s unilateral decision in violation of relevant UN resolutions necessitate immediate global attention and action.

Although, Pakistan has always sought international mediation and facilitation to resolve the Kashmir issue in line with relevant UN resolutions, parochial national interests and economic considerations of states in a capitalist system frustrate its efforts for peace. The potential mediators of the Kashmir issue like the UN and the five veto-holding members of the UN Security Council are deeply divided and unable to reach a consensus in developing a framework for implementing the existing UN resolutions to address the longest-standing international conflict that threatens to engulf the entire globe.

This may sound quite pessimistic but recent incidents of continuing military skirmishes along the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border dividing the Azad Kashmir and Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, provide no reason for complacency and necessitate renewed and concerted global efforts for peace to avert escalation of conflicts. It is not enough for the international community to merely call out India for its atrocities in Kashmir or the genocidal calls against Muslims in India, it must take concrete steps to hold India accountable for its grave human rights violations. In this regard, the unilateral decision of India to rip Kashmir of its constitutionally political status under Article 370 and 35 A of the Indian constitution is a recent example at hand that requires international attention and necessitates that Pakistan evaluates the efficacy of its policy towards the Kashmir dispute.

Undoubtedly, as a party to the Kashmir issue, Pakistan should continue to assert its legitimate claim and express solidarity with the people of Kashmir by extending its unwavering moral, political and diplomatic support to the indigenous freedom struggle. Moreover, Pakistan should expedite diplomatic efforts to sensitize the international community to the extent that it appreciates the urgent need to mitigate the plight of Kashmiris and realize its obligation to resolve the issue in line with UN resolutions. To this end, regional and global multilateral forums, especially the UN, the OIC, and potential stakeholders like China, and the US should be pushed about the need to develop a viable mechanism so as to ensure the human and democratic rights of the people of Kashmir.

Yet despite sincere efforts towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, Pakistan finds itself locked in a perpetual conflict with its much larger, belligerent, and increasingly non-democratic India which under hawkish Modi-regime seems to have lost any sense of respect for democratic and humanitarian ideals. Thus, it is advisable that until the final settlement of the issue, Pakistan make it a priority to expose Indian war crimes in Kashmir and seek international cooperation in reaching a framework whereby Kashmir is de-militarized.

On the other hand, the international community must make sincere and renewed efforts to recommit the UN to implement its relevant resolutions. Although, India is unlikely to budge as it has chosen to delude itself and mislead the international community by calling Kashmir its “internal issue”. Needless to say, this assertion could not be further from the truth given that threat to peace anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere, for peace is indivisible. In a deeply interdependent and globalized world, we cannot turn blind eye to problems in one part of the world without imperiling peace and security in another.  Indeed, as a nuclear flashpoint between Pakistan and India, treating the Kashmir dispute as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan will be a grave mistake.

In the nutshell, Kashmir Solidarity Day reminds all the conscientious people of the world to call a spade a spade and reject violence in all its forms. It also urges the international community to play a role in ensuring that the freedom struggle of Kashmiris does not go wasted, that their right to self-determination is granted. Indeed, it calls for an end to Indian atrocities through the implementation of all relevant UN resolutions providing for the inalienable rights of Kashmiris including January 5, 1949, that provides the base for settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

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