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What does Kashmir Solidarity Day mean?

National

February 5, 2017

Observed by all Pakistanis on February 5th each year, the Kashmir Solidarity Day is a national holiday, marked to show to the Kashmiris and the world at large that Pakistan and its people have not forgotten the long-pending issue. As a national holiday, the occasion is packed by public processions and special prayers in mosques for the liberation of the Valley. The day is a closed holiday and one-minute silence is observed throughout the country. Also, special programmes are held to demonstrate complete solidarity with the Kashmiris and protests are arranged against the Indian oppression of Kashmiris.

Officially, Pakistan began observing February 5 as the Kashmir Day to “reiterate solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir” in 2004. On January 31, 2004, speaking at a news conference, the-then Federal Minister for Kashmir and Northern Area Affairs had said the people and the Government of Pakistan would demonstrate on the day their solidarity with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. He said that observance of the day was meant to convey a message to the world that Pakistan would not step back an inch from its stated position on the issue. The-then Pakistani prime minister, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, visited Muzaffarabad on February 5 and addressed a joint session of the Legislative Assembly and Council.

Gowhar Geelani, a Kashmiri journalist, some time back quoted Srinagar-based international law expert Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain as saying that Kashmir Day has been observed historically right from 1932, after being first proposed by the then Kashmir Committee. “In the 1930s, the day was observed to express camaraderie with the Kashmiris’ struggle against the autocratic Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh. In present day context, Kashmir Day is being celebrated to show solidarity with the struggle of Kashmiris against India,” Sheikh Showkat said. “Basically, it [Kashmir Day] started from undivided Punjab and it has been celebrated ever since, with pauses in between. This day will continue to hold importance until the Kashmiris achieve their objective of right to self-determination.”

Gilani also quotes Ajazul Haque, one of Kashmir’s leading columnists, who is of the view that “February 5 symbolises Pakistan’s deep-rooted relationship with Kashmir. Every year, this day revives the cultural, religious and the geographical proximity the valley enjoys with Pakistan.

“The pro-Pakistan sentiment in Kashmir is neither dead nor diminished, it's suppressed and the reasons are rooted in the conditions we are going through since the 1990.”

Our young generation should be educated about the importance of the Kashmir Day. On this day, all schools should remain open and schoolchildren should be taught that Kashmiris have been struggling hard to get their right to self-determination under the UN resolutions for the last seven decades.

Because of its very weak case on the disputed valley, India terms it a bilateral dispute and avoids internationalizing the issue. Right from 1990, India says Kashmir is an issue of cross-border terrorism.

No matter what, the Kashmir issue remains an international dispute today. The day reminds the Kashmiris that Pakistan has not left them at the mercy of circumstances. Thus talks with India have to be on equal terms without giving unilateral concessions to New Delhi.

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