As the Kashmiris in the Indian occupied part of the state were preparing to observe India’s Independence Day, Wednesday August 15, as Black Day, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reaffirmed Pakistan’s just and traditional stand that calls for the solution of this lingering problem through a free and fair plebiscite to be held under UN auspices, as envisaged in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Ms Hina Khar was addressing the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Jeddah on Tuesday, during which she also stated, “We deeply treasure the unwavering support extended by the Muslim Ummah for the Kashmir cause.”

Meanwhile as in the past, while Kashmiris observed a complete shutter-down as part of Black Day at India’s forcible occupation of their land, New Delhi turned the valley into virtually a “fortress” of security, sealing to public all routes to the Srinagar’s Bakhshi Stadium, the site where the Indian Independence Day was being celebrated by the local authorities. Close circuit cameras and other monitoring equipment had been installed at the various sensitive places; the people by and large were confined to their houses, with the town presenting a picture of being under a curfew. Chairman All Parties Hurriyet Conference Syed Ali Gilani, who addressed, via telephone, “Takmeel Pakistan Conference” held at Muzaffarabad on Tuesday, said that the Kashmiris looked up to Pakistan as their own country where their hopes and aspiration could be fulfilled. Thus, it was “dearer to them than their very lives”. The veteran leader warned his people against New Delhi’s designs, drawing their attention to the Indian Foreign Minister’s statement that Kashmir was its “atoot ang” (integral part) ‘on a part of which Pakistan has forcibly occupied and for its vacation talks with it are continuing’.

While the Foreign Minister’s reiteration of Pakistan’s position on the final fate of the Kashmiris is, no doubt, encouraging, the people expect the leadership to pursue the cause vigorously not only during talks with India, but also at the various international forums. The occupation forces’ brutal oppression, about which the world community occasionally raises its voice, clearly manifests India’s inability to maintain a peaceful hold against a resentful people longing for the fulfilment of their dream of joining Pakistan, to which Ali Gilani pointed. That their outrage has not melted into resignation for as long as past six decades and a half shows the strength of their resolve.  Our envoys abroad should highlight these points as well as present before the foreign governments, politically influential groups and people and the media the sacrifices that the Kashmiris are making. Nothing short of a committed pursuit to secure the beleaguered people their right to determination could lead to the dispute’s settlement.