ASIDE from Kashmir Day, which the nation is observing today as an official holiday, there are a number of other days in the year dedicated to highlighting India’s brutal actions in the held region. For example, many Kashmiris observe Jan 26, India’s Republic Day, as a ‘black day’, while the same epithet is used for Oct 27, to mark the date in 1947 on which Indian forces invaded the erstwhile princely state.
More recently, there have been calls to observe a ‘black day’ on Aug 5, to mark India’s controversial move to strip held Kashmir of its limited autonomy in 2019. The standard practice on all these days is to organise ‘conferences, solidarity walks, seminars, discussions’ etc to highlight the plight of the occupied region. Sadly, things don’t move beyond this point, partly due to India’s policy of illegally subsuming what is internationally recognised as a disputed area, and partly due to our own weaknesses.
The unfortunate reality is that a nation wracked by internal political discord, facing economic collapse, and battling a resurgent bloody wave of terrorism can do practically little to offer moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris. Without doubt India, particularly under BJP rule, has intensified its oppressive policies in held Kashmir, and sought to alter the region’s Muslim-majority demographics.
The world’s so-called biggest democracy has been called out for its abuses in the disputed region by conscientious actors globally. Yet because of India’s geopolitical and geo-economic heft, especially in the eyes of the collective West as a counterweight to China, these flagrant abuses are swept under the carpet. Pakistan’s diplomats have tried to raise the issue of Kashmir at world fora, yet these efforts have had limited impact due to our economic and internal problems.
Only a financially and politically strong Pakistan, respected in the global community, can raise a robust voice for Kashmir, until the day comes when Kashmiris are free to decide their own destiny.
—published in Dawn