MUZAFFARABAD: The people of Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) observed ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ on Sunday to reaffirm their support for the struggle of the people of India-held Kashmir for their right to self-determination pledged under several UN Security Council resolutions.
Pakistanis and Kashmiris have been observing the Kashmir Day every year on Feb 5 without any discontinuity since 1990.
The call to observe this day was first given by then emir of Jamaat-i-Islami Qazi Hussain Ahmed and it was endorsed by then prime minister Benazir Bhutto and then chief minister of Punjab Nawaz Sharif.
On Sunday, rallies, seminars, demonstrations and other events, such as speech and essay competitions in educational institutions, are organised across Pakistan and AJK as an expression of unwavering support to the struggle of Kashmiris.
The main event of the day will be the formation of symbolic human chains at five or six points linking AJK with Pakistan, in a loud and clear message to the international community in general and India in particular that Pakistanis and Kashmiris are like “one soul in two hearts”.
Pakistani and Kashmiri expatriates in different parts of the world, mainly the United Kingdom and United States, also hold rallies to voice their support for the oppressed but resilient people of India-held Kashmir.
A special joint session of the AJK Legislative Assembly and the AJK Council has also been convened to meet on Sunday.
Weather permitting, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would address the special session and in case he fails to make it to Muzaffarabad owing to inclement weather, his message would be read out.
A special function in connection with the Kashmir Day will be held in Convention Centre Islamabad with Pakistani and Kashmiri leaders among the speakers.
Prime Minister Sharif will host a dinner in the honour of Kashmiri leadership from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) on Sunday night.
On Saturday, AJK ministers and lawmakers visited different camps of Kashmiri refugees and distributed ration packages among them with the cooperation of the federal ministry of Kashmir affairs.
Messages from Srinagar
In their messages on the eve of the Kashmir Day, pro-freedom leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Syed Shabbir Ahmed Shah expressed their gratitude for the government, people and armed forces of Pakistan for their unflinching support to the Kashmiris’ struggle.
“People in India-held Jammu and Kashmir are challenging a big power and Pakistan is the only country that acknowledges our right to self-determination and extends its persistent support to us,” Mr Geelani said.
“But we hope that Pakistan will play more effective and active role in this regard,” he said, asking Islamabad to activate all of its foreign missions to highlight the Kashmir issue and human rights violations in an operative method.
In his message, incarcerated chairman of Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Ahmad Shah said that observance of Feb 5 as ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ was “encouraging and praiseworthy”.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has urged India to stop bloodbath in held Kashmir and allow holding of free and fair plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations, adds APP. He said in a message for the last seven decades India had denied valiant Kashmiris the right to self-determination promised to them by the international community through numerous UN Security Council resolutions.
The prime minister said the people of Pakistan joined their Kashmiri brothers and sisters in observing the “Kashmir Solidarity Day” to reaffirm the country’s moral, diplomatic and political support to their legitimate struggle for their basic human rights, especially the right to self-determination, enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain has said the dream for peace in the region would remain elusive until resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiris.
In a message, Adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that the Kashmir Day had special significance this year because the recent uprising in India-held Kashmir, following the July 8 extra-judicial killing of popular youth leader Burhan Muzaffar Wani had shaken the conscience of the international community.
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2017