Standing For Kashmir

On Friday afternoon, for half an hour, children, men and women alike in Pakistan gathered outside their schools, their workplaces, their mosques and their homes, to stand in solidarity with the people of Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK), who are currently suffering atrocities inflicted by the Indian security forces. In light of the illegal revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which granted special status to IOK, and the human rights violations, which include weeks long curfews, complete clamping down on media and speech, and arrest of IOK’s democratic leaders, that have been inflicted on Kashmiris by the Indian administration since then, the government of Pakistan appealed for people to observe “Kashmir Hour” in solidarity.

Indeed, Pakistanis did not disappoint. Yesterday showed that the spirit of helping the helpless and the oppressed still exists in our country, as Pakistanis came out in droves. Small and large rallies were held across the country by citizens, lawyers, civil society members and just ordinary civilians standing up for their Kashmiri brothers. The biggest event was held in Islamabad outside the Prime Minister’s Office where Prime Minister Khan made an impactful speech about the atrocities being committed by India in Kashmir, likening the RSS to the Nazi party of Hitler, who, like the RSS, also dreamt of committing ethnic cleansing and genocide.

It must be remembered that this hour of solidarity- this peaceful protest held by Pakistanis, regardless of age, ethnicity and gender, across the country, is part of a diplomatic offensive charged by Pakistan meant to pressurise the international community. We seek to display that Pakistan, the sixth most populous country in the world, will not accept the international law violations by India. As the mass Vietnam War protests weakened the war effort in the 1970s, the standing up of millions of Pakistanis demonstrates to the world that despite the many ethnic, political and social differences that make up our country, Pakistan’s citizens are united in solidarity for our brothers in IOK.

However, “Kashmir Hour” is only a minor part of the diplomatic offensive Pakistan has launched- protests are in the civil society’s domain; the government’s priority ought to be registering protest in every international avenue possible to raise awareness on Kashmir. Imran Khan’s article in the New York Times yesterday is a good start- but there is a lot more to be done.

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