By Sajid Iqbal, Ambassador of Pakistan to Libya
The “Kashmir Black Day” is observed on 27 October every year to condemn the landing of Indian troops in Srinagar in 1947. This year it assumes even greater significance due to Indian military siege, communication blockade and also repressions on Kashmiris’ fundamental freedoms in illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir since 5th August 2019. Condemning Indian human rights violations, and issuing solidarity statements by the international community is a vindication of Pakistan’s principled stance on the dispute. Pakistan reaffirms its commitment to resolution of the dispute in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.
The basis of the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 was that the Muslim majority areas would constitute Pakistan and the non-Muslim majority areas India. Regarding 560 Princely States including Kashmir, the geography and communal interests were to be considered for joining India or Pakistan. In Kashmir Muslims constituted about 78% of the entire population (93% in the Valley), and the only road and rail links with the outside world lay through Pakistan. Historically speaking, Kashmir had been ruled by the Muslims from 14th century till early 19th century. Hari Singh was the last ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
During partition in 1947, the Muslim population of Jammu and Poonch had been forced by Hindus to leave their homes, and more than 200,000 Muslims were killed and their villages were set on fire (the Times of London). So on 21/22 October 1947 the tribesmen from Pakistan entered Kashmir to help their brethren Muslims. The Kashmiri ruler Hari Singh, on 26 October 1947 asked Governor-General of India Lord Mountbatten for military assistance, and reportedly sent him a doubtful Instrument of Accession to India, which was accepted with condition that the State accession should be settled by reference to the peoples, as soon as the law and order is restored. In succession on 27th October, the Indian troops landed at Srinagar airport. The Muslim Conference already passed a resolution in favour of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan, established the Azad Kashmir Government in the liberated areas of Kashmir. On 30th October and 2nd November 1947 Indian Prime Minister Nehru promised Pakistan, Kashmiris and the whole world to hold plebiscite in Kashmir, under international auspices. But on 1st January 1948 India took the question of Kashmir to the UN. The complaint was based on article 35 of Chapter VI of the UN Charter, which relates to ‘pacific settlement of disputes’.
The UN Commission for India and Pakistan adopted two Resolutions on 13th August 1948 and 5th January 1949; affirmed that the future status of the State would be determined by the will of people of Kashmir. On 24 January 1957 the UN Security Council, while reminding all concerned of the principle embodied in all previous resolutions again adopted a resolution, which affirming the right of self-determination of Kashmiris to decide their own future, through the UN held plebiscite. UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (1960) and 2625 (1970) also stipulate, ‘All peoples have the right to self-determination: by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Also every state to respect human rights and fundamental freedom in accordance with the Charter. Unfortunately, none of the resolutions could be materialized because of continuous stubbornness shown by India.
In 1972 both India and Pakistan signed Shimla Agreement in which they agreed that pending the settlement of any of the problems (including dispute of Kashmir) between the two countries, neither shall unilaterally alter the situation. In 1989 Kashmiri indigenous struggle gave movement a big fillip, aiming to liberate Kashmir from the Indian yoke. Since then their sufferings and sacrifices have been enormous.
Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which guaranteed Kashmir’s autonomy and its special status, cannot be amended let alone abrogated. To the horror of Kashmiris, in total disregard of all laws and promises by India, Narendra Modi-led Indian government abrogated Article 370 and 35A of Indian Constitution, and annexing Kashmir on August 5, 2019. The World is witnessing the brazenness of the Indian illegal and unilateral actions since 5 August 2019, in violation of international law, UN Charter and the UN Security Council resolutions. Also witnessing initiation of demographic apartheid in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir to erase the cultural, religious and political identity of Kashmiris, unabated human rights violations and war crimes; all aimed at crushing Kashmiris’ just movement for their inalienable right to self-determination enshrined in several UN Security Council resolutions.
To curb the reaction India deployed additional troops, bringing the total number to 900,000 to impose a military siege on 8 million Kashmiris. All Kashmiri political leaders were incarcerated; about 13000 Kashmiri youth were abducted and thousands tortured. Indian occupation forces used brute force including pellet guns against peaceful protesters; imposed collective punishments, including destruction and murders in fake encounters. The media and those daring to raise their voice are being harassed through the use of draconian laws. Today, Indian occupied Kashmiri Muslims have no freedom or liberty. Their business and honour are at stake and they are being treated like animals.
All political parties in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, previously divided, have set up a united front on October 15, 2020 to combat the dire threat to the very existence of Kashmir, as Indian BJP government destroyed Kashmir’s very identity. The political parties have rightly decided not to contest an election under the new set-up and thus legitimise it. They consider the entire process as unconstitutional and dishonest. They are demanding dialogue with all stakeholders including Pakistan. Realizing fighting three wars, the leaders in India and Pakistan had brought Kashmir to the gates of settlement in the past. But the small minds in India unfortunately wrecked it. Today, India landed herself in the soup with her unwise actions.
India must rescind the measures it has instituted since 5th August 2019, end military siege and other gross human rights violations, and agree to resolve the dispute in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions. Kashmir has been rightly described as a nuclear flashpoint. This grave situation thus merits attention of the global political-legal-diplomatic community more than ever before, to come forward invalidating Indian illegal actions, and ensuring not only to complete the unfinished agenda of partition of 1947 as per the wishes of the people of Kashmir as promised to them, but also restoring the enduring peace in the region.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Libya Observer