by Zafar Iqbal Yousafzai 4 February 1023
Kashmir Solidarity Day, observed annually on 5th February, is a day to show solidarity and support with the people of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The day has been marked as a national holiday in Pakistan since 1989 to express support for the region’s people and highlight the human rights abuses they have faced since the Indian government revoked their special status in August 2019.
The situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been one of conflict and violence for decades and remains a bone of contention between the two nuclear rivals. So far, three major wars have been fought between India and Pakistan because of the Kashmir issue. India has stationed more than 600,000 troops in Kashmir to suppress their struggle for the right to self-determination.
In August 2019, the Indian government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which had granted it a degree of autonomy within India. This move sparked widespread protests and a crackdown by Indian security forces, leading to widespread human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings, and restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly.
On Kashmir Solidarity Day, people across Pakistan and the world come together to express their support for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The day is marked with rallies, marches, and public speeches in which people demand that the world take notice of the ongoing human rights abuses and support the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their struggle for freedom and self-determination.
In addition to these public demonstrations, many organizations and individuals use the day to raise awareness about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. They spread information about human rights abuses and the need for international intervention, and they call on the world to support the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their struggles. Global actors shall consider the Kashmir issue a serious concern due to the following points.
First, the principle of self-determination is enshrined in the United Nations Charter and is considered a fundamental human right. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have the right to determine their future and to live in a society that reflects their values, beliefs, and aspirations. By standing by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the world is supporting their right to self-determination and helping to ensure they can live in peace and prosperity.
Secondly, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have faced widespread human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings, and restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly. By standing by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the world is showing its commitment to protecting human rights and ensuring everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
Thirdly, the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir can escalate into a wider conflict and destabilize the region. By standing by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the world is helping to prevent the escalation of conflict between the two nuclear powers and promoting stability and peace in the region.
Fourthly, the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir can only be resolved through dialogue and cooperation between India and Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. By standing by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the world could promote a culture of dialogue and cooperation and help to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the decades-long conflict.
Lastly, the people of Jammu and Kashmir deserve to live in a society that is just, equitable, and free from discrimination. By standing by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the world would support the creation of a society where everyone can live with dignity and security, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or political beliefs.
The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is a stark reminder of the human cost of conflict. It highlights the need for international cooperation to address the underlying causes of the conflict and support the region’s people in their struggle for peace and justice. Hence, Kashmir Solidarity Day is an important reminder of Jammu and Kashmir’s ongoing human rights abuses. It is a call to action for people worldwide to support the region’s people in their struggle for freedom and self-determination. On this day, we must come together to express our solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, to raise awareness about the ongoing human rights abuses, and to call on the world to take action to address the root causes of the conflict and to support the people of the region in their quest for peace and justice.
Zafar Iqbal Yousafzai is the author of The Troubled Triangle: US-Pakistan Relations under the Taliban’s Shadow (Routledge, 2022). He tweets @yousafzaiZafar5