FeaturedNationalVOLUME 16 ISSUE # 01

Kashmir under siege

Pakistan and the people of Kashmir around the world observed “Youm-e-Istehsal” on August 5 to protest against India’s abrogation of Article 370 of its constitution in a bid to illegally annex occupied Kashmir and divide it into two union territories. On August 5 last year, 900,000 Indian occupation forces invaded Kashmir and re-occupied it. Ever since they have been brutalising the people and colonising the territory.

The idea behind observing the day was to expose Indian atrocities and express solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir. Anti-India protests were held throughout Pakistan, particularly in Azad Kashmir, while in all major cities solidarity marches were organised, along with observing one-minute silence. A special session of the Upper House was held earlier in the day to condemn Indian atrocities in the region. Legislators across the political divide spoke in one voice in support of the oppressed Kashmiri people and appealed to the Western countries to take notice of the situation.

To mark the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed a special session of the AJK Legislative Assembly. In his speech he said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s August 5 action was a “strategic blunder” as they were stuck in a “blind alley” now after the abrogation of the Article 370 of the Indian constitution. He pointed out that India had thought that the world would not take notice of it but it was mistaken. The UN as well as all big powers have asked India to retrace its steps from the path to aggression and fascism. The premier added that what Indian Muslims were facing resembles what happened during the extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany. About his government’s efforts he added, “We have also depicted the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and our commitment to UNSC resolutions in the political map of Pakistan released yesterday.”

As intended, the Kashmir Siege Day attracted widespread attention at the world level. In a circular, the OIC Human Rights Commission strongly supported the UN experts’ call for urgent action to remedy the alarming human rights situation in (IoK) which is constantly declining since August 5, 2019.The commission endorsed the demands by the UN experts to investigate all cases of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detentions.

China, which is a time-tested friend of Pakistan, also lent its voice on the day of Kashmir protests. It issued a strong statement on August 5, reiterating its principled stance on the Kashmir issue and stressed that any unilateral change in the status quo in the Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) was illegal and invalid. Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Wang Wenbin said: “Our position is consistent and clear. This issue is a dispute left over from history between Pakistan and India that is an objective fact established by the United Nations Charter, United Nations Security Council’s resolutions and bilateral agreement between Pakistan and India. As such, any unilateral change to the status quo was illegal and invalid.” He emphasised that the issue should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and consultation between the parties concerned. On the continuing massive atrocities on innocent Kashmiris at the hands of the Indian troops, the spokesperson said, “China closely follows the situation in the Kashmir region.” Wang remarked that Pakistan and India were neighbours that could not change. He added that peaceful coexistence was in the fundamental interest of both and the common aspiration of the international community.

In another significant development, a group of UN rights experts have urged India to address the alarming human rights situation in occupied Kashmir since it was stripped of its autonomy a year ago. The independent experts, who report their findings to the UN, called on other nations to pile pressure on India: “If India does not take any genuine and immediate steps to resolve the situation, meet its obligations to investigate historic and recent cases of human rights violations and prevent future violations, then the international community should step up.”

Since Modi’s Hindutva regime imposed direct rule last August 5, the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir has sharply deteriorated. According to the UN experts, “We are particularly concerned that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many protesters are still in detention and internet restrictions remain in place.” They said three of their four letters of concern to the Indian government had gone unanswered, while the closure of the restive region´s human rights commission was “particularly concerning”. The commission urged New Delhi to schedule urgent visits by UN experts, particularly by those investigating torture and disappearances.

As reported by the world press, since the August 5 crackdown, the Indian forces have killed hundreds of young Kashmiris and incarcerated thousands of them. Concentration camps have been set up in the occupied territory to force political activists to abandon their struggle for liberty. The scale at which the atrocities are being committed has been rightly termed genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Kashmiris are being exterminated and have been made aliens in their own land.

But India cannot get away with its act of open brigandage. The people of Kashmir are unbreakable in their determination to achieve their fundamental right and they will win in the end.