- August 5 is a dark day for the Kashmiris
By revoking Indian Constitution’s Article 370 on August 5, 2019 the BJP government stripped the occupied Kashmir of its autonomy after seven decades. The Article allowed the state to have its own constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make laws relating to permanent residency, ownership of property and fundamental rights. Two months later the state was bifurcated into two Indian-administered union territories, one called Jammu and Kashmir and the other Ladakh. Over two thousand Kashmiri politicians, students, lawyers and businessmen were arrested, with some removed to jails outside occupied Kashmir while a lockdown-longest ever in history- was clamped on the Valley amidst widespread public protests.
Being a party to the dispute, Pakistan strongly opposed the Indian measures. India had provoked China also by laying claims to Chinese territory after taking over the administration of Ladakh. Indian obduracy led to clashes between Indian and Chinese troops, particularly at Galwan on June 15, leading to the death of 20 Indian troops. The dispute still remains unresolved.
Pakistan is under obligation to provide moral and political support to the Kashmiri people. Pakistan government has announced observing August 5 as a day of protests against the Indian move to deprive the Kashmiris of their constitutionally guaranteed autonomy. President Alvi would lead a walk in Islamabad to be followed by a media interaction to highlight the Kashmir issue. PM Imran Khan would address the Legislative Assembly of Azad Jammu and Kashmir after a solidarity walk joined by AJK president and prime minister in Muzaffarabad. The day will be marked by holding worldwide rallies, solidarity marches led by the country’s top leadership, a parliamentary session devoted to Kashmir issue, renaming of an inter-provincial highway and special postal stamps with a hard-hitting depiction.
Pakistan needs to provide maximum moral and diplomatic support to the oppressed people of occupied Kashmir. Islamabad also needs to launch a strong diplomatic push on various international forums. It needs to mobilise its embassies to highlight the plight of the Kashmiri people and Pakistan’s demand for the issue to be resolved in accordance with the UN resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people expressed through an internationally organised referendum. While being fully prepared to defend itself, Pakistan has to avoid taking recourse to jingoistic slogans.