Kashmir Day

For the last more than six decades, the people of Kashmir are fighting for their inalienable right of self-determination, as enunciated in the UN resolutions on the Kashmir dispute and repeatedly promised by the Indian leadership in the wake of the unequivocal position taken on the issue by the world body. To support their epic struggle, Pakistan observes Kashmir Solidarity Day on 5th of February every year. The observance of this day is purported to reassure the people of Kashmir that Pakistan has an abiding and unswerving commitment to support their cause and stands by them under all circumstances. It also aims at reminding the world community of its obligation towards the people of Kashmir and to reiterate the fact that their apathy to their sufferings could have disastrous consequences for the world peace. Another objective is to send a clear message to the Indians that no amount of oppression and persecution can keep the people of Kashmir under subjugation for long and prevent the inevitable.

The Indian Independence Act and the partition plan of 3 June, 1947, envisaged the division of the Indian sub-continent into two sovereign states of Pakistan and India. There were more than five hundred princely states in India at the time of partition ruled by the native rulers who enjoyed autonomy in running the affairs of their states. These states were given the option to join any of the two dominions keeping in view the demographic realities and their geographical proximity. Ruler of Hyderabad who was a Muslim wanted to join Pakistan, but the Indian government annexed the state using its military might on the plea that since majority of the population of Hyderabad was Hindu it could not accede to Pakistan. Kashmir having 87 percent Muslim population was ruled by a Sikh ruler. The people of Kashmir were desirous of joining Pakistan due to its geographical proximity and their historic, religious and cultural bonds with the people of Pakistan. However the Indian government coerced the Sikh ruler to join the Indian dominion. That was a classic example of the Indian double standards and its betrayal of the principles enshrined in the partition plan and negation of the reasons it employed to capture Hyderabad.

As soon as the Raja announced Kashmir’s accession to India, the people of Kashmir revolted against the decision. To quell the disturbances and to consolidate its hold on Kashmir, India sent its army to the valley which further fuelled the conflagration and eventually led to war between Pakistan and India. The Indian government approached the UN on 1 January, 1948, for help in the matter. A number of resolutions were adopted by the UN emphasising the need for immediate cessation of hostilities, demarcation of the ceasefire line, demilitarisation of the territory and deciding the question of accession through a plebiscite under the auspices of UN.

With the passing of the resolutions, a ceasefire came into effect and a demarcation line was also drawn which partitioned Kashmir into Azad Kashmir and Indian-held Kashmir. On the question of demilitarisation of the valley, no headway could be made due to the Indian intransigence. The head of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan Sir Oven Dixon, an eminent Australian jurist, quit his job in protest against non-cooperation by India. However, the Indian leader Jawahar Lal Nehru in the correspondence exchanged with Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his statements in the Indian parliament kept reiterating his commitment to abide by the UN resolutions and allow the people of Kashmir to settle the question of accession through their free will.

The Indian government actually was never sincere in meeting its international obligations. The first Indian somersault and reneging on the promise for plebiscite came when the Indian government, through the General Council of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, had a resolution passed calling for elections to the constituent assembly and settling the question of accession of Kashmir. The UN immediately reacted to this development and through its resolution No 91 rejected the notion that the question of the accession of Kashmir could be disposed of through any arrangement other than the one provided by the UN resolutions on the issue. And when the constituent assembly passed a constitution for the Indian-held Kashmir on November 7, 1956, and formally announced the accession of whole of Kashmir to India ( the basis of Indian claims of Kashmir being an integral part of India), the UN again rejected the move through its resolution No 122. However, from its newly contrived stance on the issue, India continued with its oppressive policies against the people of occupied Kashmir and a hostile posture towards Pakistan, leading to two more wars between the two countries. On each occasion, international intervention led to cessation of hostilities but no headway was made towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

In the wake of 1971 war, India and Pakistan signed Simla Agreement committing themselves to resolve all disputes including Kashmir through bilateral negotiations. But unfortunately the Indians never responded positively to Pakistan’s overtures for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Frustrated by this continued stalemate, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front launched an armed struggle against the Indian occupation of Kashmir in 1989. India responded by inducting more than seventy thousand troops, who let loose a reign of terror in the valley. The international community which initially recognised the move as a freedom struggle has shown criminal indifference to the cause of Kashmiris after 9/11.

Encouraged by the apathy of the international community, India has also remained evasive on the core issue of Kashmir. The back channel diplomacy and the dialogue process for confidence building measures, started in the ’90s, has also failed to produce results as India has been repeatedly suspending the dialogue process on one pretext or the other. But despite this Indian intransigence Pakistan has not lost faith in the desirability of continuing the dialogue.