Thursday March 23, 2023

Largest open-air prison

By Editorial Board
February 05, 2023

Ever since 1990, Pakistanis have observed Kashmir Day on February 5 in solidarity with their sisters and brothers under illegal Indian occupation. When Kashmir Day was first marked, an indigenous freedom movement had sprung up to resist occupation. Although India had predictably denounced the resistance as terrorism and directed by Pakistan, the fact that it is being waged even more forcefully now shows just how deep the desire to throw off the yoke of Indian oppression truly is. As we mark Kashmir Day this year, it is a welcome development that there seems to be some degree of greater world attention towards the issue. US politicians and members of the House of Representatives have brought up the matter and called for more international help on Kashmir. The US based think tank Freedom House has ranked Kashmir at 27 out of 100 in its index which measures democracy and rights under it. The International Crisis Group based in Brussels has also called for attention to the Kashmir problem and the plight of Kashmiri people caught up in the conflict that is not in their control. So too have Amnesty International and other smaller organizations around the world.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence at the present time that India intends to change its policies or alter its stance. Indeed, it appears more and more determined to continue with its Kashmir policy. The Kashmir issue has gone on for far too long. Pakistan cannot alone resolve the crisis and the chorus of international voices now being raised needs to be increased in volume and in strength so that some solution is possible over the coming months and years. The citizens of Indian-occupied Kashmir – called the world's largest open-air prison – have been under army occupation since 1947 and have been persistently denied not just their right to choose their own fate but also basic freedoms of expression and assembly. Their existence is a humiliating one of army checkposts and intrusive searches. Any attempt to assert their authority is swiftly followed by massacres and unmarked mass graves.

Our job is to continue raising the Kashmir issue at international forums and to remind the UN of its duty to uphold resolutions allowing the Kashmiri people self-determination. More urgently, attention must be brought to the daily human rights abuses committed by Indian forces, including the use of rubber bullets that have blinded hundreds of children. It is the right of every occupied people to resist any way they see fit and it is our duty as Pakistanis and citizens of the world to stand behind them. Be it in Kashmir, Palestine or any other part of the world where an imperialistic power subjugates the local population, we must always stand not with those who have might on their side but those whose cause is just.