Today marks the 26 years that Pakistan has been expressing its support and unity with the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir by dedicating February 5th as Kashmir day. We take out one day of the year to pay homage to our Kashmiri brothers who lost their lives fighting for their homeland’s freedom. An entire year passes by but the question remains the same: When will a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue stop being a distant dream and turn into reality?

Ironically Kashmir Day was first observed in 1990 on call of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was the opposition leader and chief minister of Punjab at the time. He appealed for a nationwide strike to protest against the Indian occupation of Kashmir and called for people to pray for the Kashmiri freedom movement’s success. Here we are twenty-six years and three terms in office later; our PM has failed at dispensing freedom to the people of Kashmir. Passionate speeches are delivered at international forums, third party interventions are called for but the opposing party is nowhere near even agreeing to come to the negotiating table. This must change.

The fact is that the issue is often represented primarily as a matter between India and Pakistan and framed around the issues of the legitimacy of Kashmir’s accession to India at independence. But that has ceased to be the problem today as circumstances since the accord have changed such that the insurgency is now largely fueled by local grievances. In the current situation, the debate ought to focus on the experiences and aspirations of the people in the Kashmir valley, and what is best for them. Long lasting peace can only be achieved when they are included in the process and that is something that India cannot bear, hence the deadlock. One can only hope that this painfully long occupation and tyranny will end and reach a logical conclusion soon enough.