Minister for Kashmir Affairs Barjees Tahir’s remark at Muzaffarabad on Wednesday that untying the Kashmir tangle is an article of faith with the PML-N comes as appeasement, amidst fears that the government might be focused entirely on normalising relations with India, while leaving Kashmir to fend for itself. Mr Tahir went on to assert that the government’s policy on the issue was quite clear and it would not, under any circumstances, give up on Kashmir. It bears repeating that nothing could be closer to the truth than Quaid-i-Azam’s observation that Kashmir constitutes the jugular vein of Pakistan. And India's aggression as the upper riparian has left no one in doubt that it bears no great concern for Pakistan's future. Its act of open brigandage becomes all the more criminal when the fact that the waters it is stealing by virtue of its forcible and illegal occupation of the Kashmir Valley fall, according to a solemn, internationally brokered treaty New Delhi, Islamabad and World Bank have signed, to the share of Pakistan.

Holding equal importance to that of the issue of water stealth is the fate of the people of Kashmir, overwhelmingly Muslims, with close family ties and, obviously, cultural affinity with the people of Pakistan. They have been agitating for freedom from India ever since it began to become clear that it was going back on its commitments made in the UN Security Council resolutions it had sponsored to let the Kashmiris decide their fate through a free and fair plebiscite organised under UN auspices. Generally peaceful, at times the struggle has become violent, reflecting not only the Kashmiris’ impatience, but also the brutal oppression they have to bear at the hands of New Delhi’s 700,000-odd security force. It is a damning indictment of the global powers, manoeuvring the world affairs to serve their interests, that they are turning a blind eye to the atrocities the occupation forces are committing on the local population. In the process, nearly 100,000 Kashmiris have laid down their lives, thousands of them who mysteriously disappeared have been found dumped in scores of mass graves.

But for Pakistan it is a matter of life and death. There should no question of betraying the Kashmir cause that in truth is Pakistan’s own cause. It must stick to its principled stand till the historical truth that home-grown freedom struggles can not be bought out with trade agreements.