As Pakistanis observe Kashmir Day today to express their unstinted moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris, I have often wondered how the world community can continue to maintain the studied silence towards the plight of Kashmiris.

 While it has been a continued practice to pledge our support to Kashmiris’ right to self-determination ever since this Day was first observed during the government of Mian Nawaz Sharif in the early 199s, the Kashmir Day, this year, has assumed greater significance in the backdrop of the revocation of the special status of Indian-held Kashmir by the Modi government since August 5.

 It has been six months since the curfew was imposed with all of its attendant miseries for the people of the occupied valley. To date, there does not seem to be an end to their ordeal in sight. As if earlier sacrifices rendered by Kashmiris were not enough, the post-August period has seen the fascist Modi government unleash a reign of terror whose parallel is hard to find in recent history.

 Indian-held Kashmir has been turned into an open prison. The Modi government has taken a leaf from the book of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and in both instances, the world capitals have turned a deaf ear to the gravest human rights abuses. Two questions have gripped me ever since the Modi government robbed Occupied Kashmir of its special status.

 Firstly, why did Narendra Modi feel emboldened to do what it did at this particular point in time, given the fact that India has been an occupation force since the partition of the Sub-continent? After serious deliberation, I reached the conclusion that Pakistan’s internal weaknesses and economic and diplomatic constraints encouraged Modi’s Saffron government to withdraw the special status of Kashmir and practically merge it with the Indian Union in contravention of the UN Charter, international law and the promises of the country’s founding fathers.

 An economically strong, politically stable and internally cohesive Pakistan would have been an effective check on Modi’s fascist ambitions. After all, the goal of ending the special status of held-Kashmir has been part of the BJP’s electoral manifesto for the last 26 years but it could not walk the talk except now when it found the atmosphere conducive enough for the implementation of its ultra-rightist agenda item. 

 It is unfortunate that we could not see such a prospect playing out when what happened was already written on the wall. Modi and his cohorts made no bones about their intentions vis-à-vis held Kashmir during the heated election campaign that centred purely on Pakistan. At a time when the Kashmir plans were being drawn up and Indian journalists with insight into the mindset and plans of Modi-Amit Shah duo were spilling the beans, our foreign office failed to ring the alarm bells. It was also the time when PM IMRAN Niazi was literally beseeching Indian PM Modi and predicting that the Modi win will be good for South Asia.

 The Kashmir fiasco ranks among the paramount national tragedies. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah described Kashmir as a jugular vein of Pakistan and by annexing it to the Indian Union, the Modi government has exposed the region to the prospects of a nuclear catastrophe.

 Secondly, if India has been relentless in committing the rights abuses and perpetrating terror in Occupied Kashmir, the resilience and determination of Kashmiris has been awe inspiring. They have refused to submit to the illegal and immoral diktat of the Modi government and remain firm on their fundamental right to self-determination. With their unmatched courage, determination and resistance, they have written yet another chapter of valour in the annals of human history. Their stories of defiance in the face of the brute power will continue to inspire and motivate all oppressed people around the world.

 The sacred blood of Kashmiris is a debt on us. We cannot remain oblivious to the Indian atrocities in held Kashmir. The best way Pakistan can project the Kashmir cause effectively is through internal consolidation. A Pakistan that is self-reliant is in a stronger position to plead the case of Kashmiris in the comity of nations.  Modi may have annexed Kashmir physically, however, he has failed spectacularly in subjugating the spirit of freedom and defiance that is the hallmark of Kashmir struggle. By standing up to the Indian might, Kashmiris have fulfilled their part of the pledge, we have to ponder whether we are doing enough and if not, then why not. We need deep introspection. To me, this is the message of Kashmir Day.