KASHMIR Day has been a regular feature on the Pakistani calendar for the last few decades. However, this year things are different as today is the first Kashmir Day observed after India revoked the disputed territory’s autonomous status by tinkering with the constitution in August 2019.
What has followed has been a tale of misery and brutality unleashed upon this beautiful land and its people by the narrow-minded bigots currently running the show in New Delhi.
India has enforced a blockade which has crippled communications as well as commerce in the held region, whereas thousands have been detained since the crackdown began last year. These have included Kashmiri lawmakers who were at one time staunch allies of New Delhi, but who have now been given the rough end of the stick by those they once served. But it is the ordinary Kashmiri who has borne the brunt of New Delhi’s brutish tactics, with security forces frequently conducting midnight raids and torturing unarmed citizens.
The dire situation echoed in the National Assembly on Tuesday, as lawmakers called upon India to “rescind its illegal action” in occupied Kashmir and allow foreign governments and global rights bodies to “assess and report the human rights situation there”.
Indeed, ever since India illegally annexed the disputed territory last year, the state and civil society here have been active in raising a voice for Kashmiris. The government has lobbied key capitals, informing them of the atrocious human rights situation in India-held Kashmir, and exposing the real face of Narendra Modi’s extreme Hindu right-wing dispensation.
While these efforts have delivered some results — leading rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have spoken out against India’s abuses in IHK — it is an unfortunate fact that some of the most powerful actors on the world stage maintain a stony silence where the Kashmir situation is concerned.
Moreover, many of the Muslim states have also preferred to remain silent, barring a few notable exceptions such as Malaysia.
While realpolitik may dominate international relations, those in the global community who claim to be champions of rights and freedom must speak much louder for the voiceless Kashmiris and let India know that its brutal suppression of the held region is unacceptable.
Pakistan must continue its moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris. This country has religious, cultural and blood ties with Kashmir and neither the state nor the citizenry will remain silent as India’s attempts to crush the occupied region’s people continue.
The situation may be depressing at the moment but the Kashmiris must not give up hope and should continue their democratic struggle for rights. And as they continue to resist India’s tyranny in their quest for dignity, fundamental rights and freedom, Kashmiris should know that Pakistan and its people stand with them in their hour of trial.
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2020