Every year, 5 February is observed as Kashmir Solidarity Day in Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. We observe this day to express our solidarity with the indigenous freedom struggle of our Kashmiri brothers and to draw the world’s attention towards the illegal Indian occupation of Kashmir. Unfortunately, in the last seven decades and despite various efforts the solution to the Kashmir issue is still not in sight.

I remember, embarking on a whirl wind tour of brotherly Islamic countries soon after Pakistan’s successful nuclear tests in 1998. During this tour, I also had the opportunity of meeting the late Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gaddafi. It was quite an unusual meeting as it took place in the Libyan Sahara Desert where Colonel Gaddafi lived in a tent. When I entered his tent, Colonel Gaddafi rose to greet me and my team. Surprisingly, Colonel Gaddafi did not show the customary warmth he was known for showing on meeting Pakistanis. We had hardly begun briefing Col. Gaddafi about the purpose of our visit when he abruptly stopped us. “I will only listen to what you have to say once you have answered my two questions,” said a visibly agitated late Libyan leader. “Firstly, why was I not taken into confidence by your government prior to your country’s nuclear tests? And secondly, I had written to the Pakistani and Indian Prime Ministers that in the event of resolving the Kashmir issue by way of giving Kashmir a dominion status my government was ready to provide the financial assistance needed to run the new independent state. While the Indian Prime Minister readily acknowledged my letter, why did the Pakistani Prime Minister and your foreign office not even bother to acknowledge my letter let alone respond to my offer?” Asked an angry Col. Gaddafi. Although, I quickly brought his temper down by switching the discussion from Kashmir to Colonel. Gaddafi’s own immense popularity in Pakistan but in my mind I kept wondering at what prevented Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the foreign office from acknowledging and responding to Colonel Gaddafi’s offer especially when the Indian Prime Minister had readily sent him an acknowledgment.

Later in 2005, as the President of the Pakistan Muslim League I visited India at the invitation of the Indian National Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. After arriving in New Delhi, I held a jam-packed press conference in which I categorically urged the leaders of both Pakistan and India to take “bold and unpopular “ decisions unmindful of the political risks to theirgovernments, so as to reach a just and amicable solution of the Kashmir issue. I still stand by my word.