Written By: Sardar Masood Khan,

President Azad Jammu and Kashmir

At a deeper level, the rallies and demonstrations and the popular sentiment displayed on the day goes on to show that Pakistan is not complete without Kashmir and Kashmiris have not yet acquired their political persona because of India’s occupation of one part of the territory and its opposition to a diplomatic solution to the dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions or a negotiated settlement. On this day therefore the dark tragedy of Kashmir is re-enacted in all cities, townships and villages of Jammu and Kashmir, in Pakistan and all over the world. The horrors of Indian oppression and human rights violations in IOK captured in vivid and excruciating imagery, shown on that day, should shake the conscience of the world.

Every year, on February 5, the people of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora communities abroad mark Kashmir Solidarity Day. On that day we form a human chain to show our support for our brothers and sisters, and indeed our fellow citizens living under Indian occupation across the Line of Control. We also organise conferences and demonstrations to condemn Indian occupation forces’ atrocities in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and to renew the pledge of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan to sustain the freedom struggle until the people of Kashmir get their right of self-determination mandated by the United Nations Security Council. A joint session of the AJK Parliament is held in Muzaffarabad which is addressed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan symbolising Pakistan’s full solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and at the same time demonstrating Pakistan’s locus standi as a party to the dispute and as custodian of Kashmiris’ rights in the United Nations and other international bodies.

 

On the Kashmir Solidarity Day, we also remind the United Nations to implement its own resolutions on Kashmir.

At a deeper level, the rallies and demonstrations and the popular sentiment displayed on the day goes on to show that Pakistan is not complete without Kashmir and Kashmiris have not yet acquired their political persona because of India’s occupation of one part of the territory and its opposition to a diplomatic solution to the dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions or a negotiated settlement. On this day therefore the dark tragedy of Kashmir is re-enacted in all cities, townships and villages of Jammu and Kashmir, in Pakistan and all over the world. The horrors of Indian oppression and human rights violations in IOK captured in vivid and excruciating imagery, shown on that day, should shake the conscience of the world.

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Resentful, the Indian media lashes out at Pakistan, as well the people of Azad Kashmir and IOK, and spreads rumours, falsifications and fabrications in regard to the history of the Kashmir dispute. Some observations are being made to set the record straight.

 

It is a well-known fact that India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Viceroy Lord Mountbatten promised a plebiscite to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, even before the United Nations made that determination very clearly in its several resolutions. Less cited are Mahatma Gandhi’s remarks on Kashmir on the eve of his assassination by a Hindu extremist. He said, “If the people of Kashmir are in favour of opting for Pakistan, no power on earth can stop them from doing so... they should be left free to decide for themselves... if I could have my way... and everybody listened to me, we would not be sending our army as we are doing now.”1 But Indian leaders first reneged on their solemn promises to Kashmiris and Pakistan and then went on to violate the UN Security Council resolutions proscribing a free and impartial plebiscite to be held under UN supervision.

 

India’s attempt to annex Kashmir with its federation is artificial and that is why, even after the passage of seventy years, the cities, towns and villages of the Indian Occupied Kashmir resonate with the slogans: What do we want? Azadi; and Pakistan zindabad. Kashmir never was and will never be a part of India, especially after its brutal massacres of Kashmiris and trampling of their rights over the decades. India has failed to absorb Kashmir in its polity despite its toxic array of coercion and blandishments because the region does not belong to it historically and legally.

India, in the international forums, tries to spread a fallacious story that it had accepted Resolution 47 of April 21, 1948 which required Pakistan to withdraw its troops from Azad Kashmir, but as Pakistan did not do so, it did not implement subsequent UNSC resolutions on the plebiscite. During my recent visit to the UK, I was told by community leaders that some elements, apparently encouraged by Indians, had circulated a petition claiming that Pakistan was responsible for the non-implementation of the UN resolutions. This is a patented and standing Indian position that they have been using in the UN to shift responsibility, but with no success. The other purpose of such falsehood is to sow seeds of doubts within the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities in order to divide them and to nurture disaffection against Pakistan. Some gullible and ill-informed community members may fall prey to such disinformation campaigns.

 

The fact is that several resolutions after Resolution 47 were passed by the Council to address the issue of withdrawal of troops, not just by Pakistan but also by India in a synchronised manner. The decision crystallised in Resolution 98 (1952), adopted on December 23, 1952 which asked both India and Pakistan to demilitarise while permitting them to retain a limited number of forces on each side of the ceasefire line to maintain law and order. For Pakistan the number of troops to be retained was 3,000 to 6,000 and for India 12,000 to 18,000. Pakistan endorsed the proposal but India declined to do so under one pretext or the other and thus effectively scuttled the demilitarisation process.

 

India’s intransigence on the issue was recorded by Sir Owen Dixon, United Nations Representative for India and Pakistan, in his report to the Security Council in which he said: “In the end, I became convinced that India’s agreement would never be obtained to demilitarisation in any form or to provisions governing the period of plebiscite of any such character, as would in my opinion, permit the plebiscite being conducted in conditions sufficiently guarding against intimidation and other forms of influence and abuse by which the freedom and fairness of the plebiscite might be imperilled.”2 This is a very definitive indictment.

 

Another myth being peddled by pro-Indian elements is that the Kashmiris would be content with the status quo–making the Line of Control permanent–if only Pakistan would let go. It is counterintuitive to think that hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris starting from 1931 and 1947 would give lives merely for acquiescing the Indian aggression and perpetuating occupation of their homeland; as we know, thousands were forced to migrate because of a mass exodus in Jammu masterminded and executed by the Maharajah, the Indian Government and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)’s violent extremists. Besides, the Indian establishment knows that it enforced an artificial separation between Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir through its aggression and occupation of one part of the territory on October 27, 1947.

 

Our message to India is to stop the carnage in IOK which would have serious consequences for centuries for the entire region. It should return to dialogue and diplomacy, multilateral or trilateral (that includes Kashmiris), to find a political solution of the dispute. India’s state sponsored terrorism would never solve this problem as history has shown.

Rivers, mountains and people join and connect Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir naturally. These relations predate 1947, as Lahore, Rawalpindi and Sialkot were intertwined with Srinagar, Poonch, Baramula and Jammu. Psychologically, the people of the areas now constituting Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir always saw each other as one people; and that is why, even before Pakistan came into being, on July 19, 1947 at the residence of the founding president of Azad Kashmir, Sardar Mohammad Ibrahim Khan, mainstream Kashmiri leaders decided that the state would accede to Pakistan, and went on to liberate part of its territory called Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

 

India’s attempt to annex Kashmir with its federation is artificial and that is why even after the passage of seventy years, the cities, towns and villages of the Indian Occupied Kashmir resonate with the slogans: What do we want? Azadi; and Pakistan zindabad. Kashmir never was and will never be a part of India, especially after its brutal massacres of Kashmiris and trampling of their rights over the decades. India has failed to absorb Kashmir in its polity despite its toxic array of coercion and blandishments because the region does not belong to it historically and legally.

Kashmir is not a chess game. It is an issue that impinges on the very identity of 20 million people living in a land that is 85,000 square kilometres. Freedom and self-determination are their inalienable rights. With their blood and through their voices, they have given a message to India and the international community: Kashmiris’ will to freedom will not be crushed. They won’t allow India to make them captives and aliens in their homeland which is being plundered by the occupiers and whose demographic composition is being altered through manipulation.

 

Here on this side of the LOC, we remain determined that we would steadfastly persevere in our endeavours to give our fellow Kashmiris fullest diplomatic and political support. In Azad Kashmir, along the LOC, our courageous civilians and valiant personnel of Armed Forces are embracing martyrdom. Pakistan does and would continue to fight and survive proxy wars unleashed on Pakistan by India.

 

The people and leadership of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan pay tribute to the heroic Hurriyet leaders–Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah and Asiya Andrabi–who are holding the emblem of liberty high despite Indian repression, incarcerations, torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment. We salute the resilience of Kashmiris who have given huge sacrifices and have vowed to continue their peaceful struggle for self-determination.

 

Our message to India is to stop the carnage in IOK which would have serious consequences for centuries for the entire region. It should return to dialogue and diplomacy, multilateral or trilateral (that includes Kashmiris), to find a political solution of the dispute. India’s state sponsored terrorism would never solve this problem as history has shown.

 

To the international community, we would say that it is obligatory for them to move beyond realpolitik. Economic and commercial interests of major powers and promotion and protection of human rights could and should move in tandem.

 

The writer is the President of the State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and former Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in New York and Geneva.

 

1     Quoted by Dr. Stanley Wolpert in a paper read at the International Kashmir Peace Conference held in Washington D.C. on July 23-25 and published in Beyond the Blame Game: Finding Common Grounds for Peace & Justice in KASHMIR, p.99.

2         Security Council Document S/1971, para 52.

 
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