Warning that the situation in occupied Kashmir was worsening beyond control in the wake of unprecedented atrocities by Indian forces, leaders of various armed Kashmiri separatist groups on Saturday called on Islamabad to extend them “full military support”.
“India’s entire leadership and institutions are unanimous in their nefarious designs to annihilate the Kashmiris and their economy […] Their brutalities and bloodlust is unprecedented in history and the situation is getting out of control,” observed Syed Salahuddin, head of the United Jihad Council (UJC), at a press conference at Muzaffarabad's Central Press Club.
The UJC brings together around a dozen groups fighting the Indian occupation of Kashmir, of which Salahuddin’s Hizbul Mujahideen is the largest constituent.
Leaders of almost all member outfits accompanied Salahuddin at the presser, which coincided with the observance of a ‘Black Day’ to condemn India’s invasion of Jammu and Kashmir on this day in 1947.
Salahuddin warned that "a grave human tragedy" was in the making in occupied Kashmir and added that the Government of Pakistan should announce full military support for Kashmiris "without wasting even a second.”
“Please do not leave the Kashmiris at the mercy of 800,000 savage troops […] After all, they [Kashmiris] too are human beings and may run out of patience anytime,” he said.
He regretted that Pakistani leadership was “begging” for talks notwithstanding India’s "intransigence, haughtiness and jingoism".
“There does not arise any question of a peaceful negotiated settlement of the longstanding [Kashmir] issue in the presence of such an attitude and atmosphere in India,” he said, asking Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to “hear the pleas of Kashmiris in their hearts.”
He pointed out that Pakistan had held "more than 150 rounds of talks" with India in the past, but had gained "nothing except damage to the Kashmir cause".
“We feel so much pain when we see Pakistani rulers pinning hopes on talks. I wonder: Why are they following the beaten track?" he said.
“If we could not judge them [India] over the past seven decades, it’s a grave mistake on our part,” he said.
Salahuddin noted that despite the “criminal silence” of international institutions and the weak policies of governments in the ‘base camp’ (Azad Jammu & Kashmir), Kashmiris were "fighting the tyrant army with stones and sticks".
“But for how long? Isn’t it high time Pakistan extends us full military support?” he said.
He maintained that since Pakistan was the basic party to the dispute, it was her moral, constitutional and national responsibility to extend full support to the struggling Kashmiris.
“We are not worried about India because, being an oppressor, she has been and will continue to kill us. But our questions are directed at you,” he said, addressing Islamabad and Muzaffarabad.
“Our youngsters are quitting their PhD courses, embracing martyrdom in the jungles while shouting 'Long live Pakistan'. Their bodies are draped with Pakistani flags and despite the presence of 800,000 troops, their graves are also covered with Pakistani flags.”
“Does this not shake the conscience of the people at the helm in Pakistan? What moment they are waiting for?”
“Will you come [in aid of us] when the last Kashmiri child will be rendered blind [by pellet guns]? When the last Kashmiri girl will lose her chastity and when the last settlement will be reduced to ashes?" Salahuddin asked.
He said: “If the Government of Pakistan is unable to save Kashmiris from genocide, it should make it clear to them, plainly.”
Salahuddin also took strong exception to oft-repeated assertions about Pakistan’s ‘political moral and diplomatic’ support to Kashmiris as “turgidity.”
“At every function, at every meeting, we hear them say this. Let me tell them, it does not change the situation on the ground.”
“You [Pakistan] are bound by morality and your Constitution to help your oppressed, unarmed and vulnerable brethren materially.”
Referring to the recent United Nations Human Rights Commissioner’s (UNHCR) report on Kashmir, the UJC chief said it had proved with facts and figures that Kashmir was the most disturbed area in the world where the worst human rights violations were being committed with impunity.
He maintained that the more than 800,000 Indian troops were committing "genocide" of Kashmiris without any international resistance, condemnation and hindrance.
“Unfortunately, the Foreign Office and Pakistani missions failed to exploit the UNHRC report in favour of Kashmiris,” he alleged.
“You should have reached out to the whole world as well as the UN Security Council to call their attention to the UNHRC report to awaken their conscience; but alas, no such thing was done except for issuing a few customary statements.”
Salahuddin demanded that Pakistan should also launch an effective media campaign to highlight the historical struggle of Kashmir and expose Indian atrocities.
“Remembering Kashmir on two or three occasions in a calendar year is not going to work,” he said.
Salahuddin also asked the pro-India leadership in occupied Kashmir to “give up political opportunism and join the ranks of their wounded, freedom-seeking nation.”
He said he had no qualms about saying that only a state-wide armed struggle could bring India to the table.
“I wish every Kashmiri should take up arms against India, including my own children.”
Prominent among the leaders accompanying Salahuddin were UJC Vice Chairman Muhammad Usman, Secretary General Sheikh Jameelur Rehman of Tehreekul Mujahideen, Gen Abdullah of Jamiatul Mujahideen, Mufti Asghar of Jaish e Muhammad, Farooq Qureshi of al-Barq Mujahideen, Masood Sarfraz of Hizb e Islami, Almas Rizwan of Kashmir Liberation Movement, Wasim Baig of Tehreek e Jihad, Jan Muhammad of Harkat e Jihad e Islami, Farooq Kashmiri of Harkatul Mujahideen and Muhammad Manzoor of Lashkar e Taiba.