A large number of Kashmiri men, women and children paraded through the main boulevard of Muzaffarabad on Tuesday, calling upon Islamabad to extend military support to an ongoing struggle in held Kashmir against Indian rule.
The rally was organised by the Pasban-i-Hurriyat Jammu Kashmir (PHJK), an organisation comprising post-1990 migrants from India-held Kashmir, to condemn the killing of six youth by Indian troops in held Kashmir on Sunday.
At least four people had been shot dead by the Indian army in Shopian over the weekend during an alleged exchange of gunfire with a suspected militant.
On Monday two more bodies were found, raising the toll to six and triggering widespread protests across the occupied territory.
“The oppressed people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir need and seek Pakistan’s military support against India,” read a banner carried by women at the rally. Alongside them, men carried another, which asked: “Why is the international community silent over the killing of six youth in Shopian?”
“For the last seven decades, Kashmiris have been calling upon the United Nations and the international community to resolve their issue and to let them live a peaceful life, but to no avail,” said Uzair Ahmed Ghazali, organiser of the event.
He said the Shopian killings "were the latest example of the fact that Indian troops could kill anyone anywhere in held Kashmir with impunity."
“We have had enough of political, moral and diplomatic support. It's not working. A lot of blood has been shed in occupied Kashmir and the people there are desperately calling for immediate military support from Pakistan,” Ghazali said.
He believed that, being party to an internationally-acknowledged dispute, Pakistan would be fully justified in extending military support to Kashmiris "because India was not only refusing implementation of UN resolutions but it had also unleashed a reign of terror on the Kashmiri people."
Ghazali, who was born on the other side of the divide, was not alone in calling for military intervention. Many locals echoed his views.
Religious scholar Mufti Kifayat Hussain Naqvi said the only solution to the festering Kashmir issue was "jihad," coupled with Pakistan’s military support.
“The time has come for the armed forces of Pakistan to swing into action [in held Kashmir]. We will fight alongside them,” he asserted.
He also asked the people to gear themselves up, as “time was nearing to declare an open war with India.”
The religious leader was also opposed to the ban on Jamaatud Dawa's Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. “There should not be any ban on Hafiz Saeed. He is on the true path towards the freedom of Kashmir.”
Hafiz Abdul Samad, a lawyer affiliated with the Jamaat-i-Islami, called for a consistent struggle “that should not be restricted to just one rally”.
“Pakistan should declare war against India: we will fight shoulder to shoulder with our armed forces. In fact, they will find us ahead of them at the battleground,” he said.
Others who spoke on the occasion included trade union leader Abdul Razzaq Khan, PPP leader Shaukat Javed Mir, Maryam Kashmiri of the PML-N, Danial Shahab of Jamiat Ahle Hadith, Usman Ali of PHJK, and Sobia Saeed, a second-year student from a migrant family.
Participants of the rally alleged that the Indian army "had been given a license to kill Kashmiris" in an attempt to suppress their popular uprising.
They said Kashmiris had been writing a new chapter of sacrifices in the modern history, and the brutish treatment of their legitimate struggle warranted Islamabad’s immediate military intervention in the held territory.
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Meanwhile, Mohammad Farooq Rehmani, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Freedom League (JKPFL), called upon Islamabad to launch a case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the targeted killing of youth by India.
While condemning the Shopian killings, he said it was a planned and systematic move by the Narendra Modi regime to "wipe out the local Muslim population and thus thwart a final resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the right of self-determination."
Rehmani expressed grave concern over the continued imprisonment of ailing JKPFL General Secretary Mohammad Ramzan Khan even though a court had quashed his detention order last month.
He also castigated the Indian authorities for shifting political detainees from the Kashmir Valley to Jammu and taking extreme measures against journalists, especially photojournalist Kamran, with ulterior motives to escalate tension and insecurity among local media persons.