Kashmiris’ struggle for their inalienable right to self-determination spans more than seven decades. On August 5, 2019, India illegally and unilaterally attempted to alter the internationally-recognised disputed status of Jammu & Kashmir—one of the oldest international disputes on the agenda of the United Nations.

Anticipating a strong reaction to this unwarranted illegal action, the Indian government imposed an unparalleled military siege, communication blackout and draconian curbs on Kashmiris’ fundamental freedoms that continue to date. With deployment of additional troops, numbering up to 900,000, Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) has been turned into an open-prison.

As the world continues to grapple with the challenges posed by COVID-19, the BJP government has been pursuing its ‘Hindutva’ agenda in IIOJK. Through promulgation of the Reorganization Act and Domicile Rules, India aims to initiate a demographic apartheid against innocent Kashmiris. What India fails to realise is that no cosmetic legal changes or military siege can ever undermine or strangulate Kashmiris’ struggle for right to self-determination.

Pakistan has stood by the Kashmiris in their just struggle through an intense, multi-dimensional and sustained diplomatic, political and moral campaign. We have not only rejected and denounced Indian unilateral and illegal actions of August 5, 2019 but have highlighted them on all international fora including the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the Human Rights Commission (HRC), the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Being true to his word, Prime Minister Imran Khan has played the role of “Ambassador of Kashmir” with integrity. He has spearheaded the campaign of drawing the world’s attention to the festering dispute of Jammu and Kashmir and its potential to spiral into a wider conflict between two nuclear-armed states. Kashmir has been given primacy in all our diplomatic engagements, and interactions with international human rights organisations, think tanks and media. We have addressed several communications to the UN authorities, including President of the UN Security Council, UN Secretary General as well as leaders of all P-5 countries; and held regular telephonic contacts with foreign leadership.

Three UN Security Council deliberations post August 5, the Secretary General’s reaffirmation that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is governed by the UN Charter and applicable UNSC Resolutions; the Turkish President’s address to the joint session of the Parliament; constant support from China and statements from friendly countries including Malaysia, Iran, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Belgium and Canada are clear repudiation of Indian claims regarding Jammu and Kashmir being its internal matter, and hence are no small achievements.

Global legislatures’ response has been more than encouraging. In addition to the three hearings in the US Congress condemning Human Rights Violations (HRVs) in IIOJK, debate in UK and other Parliaments, Statements/Commmuniques by OIC/IPHRC, Kashmir has been extensively reported upon by reputed international organisations and media houses. Undoubtedly, our missions and the Pakistani-Kashmiri diaspora have been instrumental in galvanising international support—a testament to the fact that the world’s conscience has been shaken over the plight of the Kashmiris.

Despite international condemnation on grave human rights violations and disastrous mishandling of COVID-19 in IIOJK, India fails to acknowledge the truth that its uninterrupted, barbaric, year-long military siege and crackdown has not been able to break the spirit of the Kashmiris of IIOJK.

To reaffirm our unflinching support to the Kashmiri people and in continuation of our sensitisation campaign regarding perpetration of crimes against humanity by Indian security forces in IIOJK, the Prime Minister of Pakistan will address the AJK Assembly on August 5, 2020 and the nation will observe the day as “Youm-e-Istehsal”. Accordingly, a range of activities have been planned at the national and international level.

At the national level, these activities include; the PM’s address to the AJK Assembly; a Senate session; parliamentarian’s visiting LoC and meeting families affected by Indian firing; renaming the Kashmir Highway as the Srinagar Highway; issuance of a special postage stamp, a solidarity walk led by the President in Islamabad, and by other national leaders at various places across the country including provincial capitals as well as AJK; observance of one-minute silence at 10:00am on August 5, 2020 in the entire country, interviews of the leadership with international TV channels; presentation of a memo to UN representatives and finally; dispatching letters to global leaders.

At the international level, these include ambassadors’ engagements with host governments and parliaments to sensitise them on the continuing grave situation in IIOJK; local public sensitisation campaign in respective host countries through a series of webinars, street protests, car rallies, photo exhibitions, talks at universities and think- tanks; op-eds by our ministers in leading international newspapers; and online petitions signed by the Pakistani and Kashmiri diasporas.

The driving force behind this momentum is Pakistan’s unbreakable vow to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to uphold their struggle for right to self-determination, in line with the UN Security Council Resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. I assure my Kashmiri brethren that nothing will ever dissuade Pakistan from extending our all-out diplomatic and moral support till they realise their inalienable right to self-determination.