N. P. Upadhyaya, Kathmandu: It must have come as a Himalayan astonishment for Prime Minister Imran Khan and the entire Pakistani population who have since seven decades or so expecting the Indian government conducting a plebiscite in Kashmir to allow the Kashmiri people to decide their fate on their own through a plebiscite as assured guaranteed several times by the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The people of Kashmir have now reasons to take a sigh of relief.
Notably, February 5th each year Pakistan marks as “Solidarity day” and assures the Kashmiri population in the India Occupied Kashmir that Pakistan is with the Kashmiri people who are subjected to an inhuman military siege and communications since seven decades or so.
Pakistan earnestly began observing February 5 as Solidarity Day since 1990.
Notably, the Indian authorities have intensified their oppression in Kashmir since August 5, 2019.
It was on this date that India changed the Status of Kashmir.
The fact is that the tragedy being faced by the Kashmiri people goes back more than 7 decades as they have faced unabated repression and consistent denial of their fundamental rights by India in these past decades.
The UN Body and other international organisations have time and again impressed upon the Indian government to listen to the demands of the Kashmiri people but the Indian establishment remains undeterred.
The entire UN System appears weak in bringing its own “resolution” to take its course which is long overdue.
Adding strength to the Solidarity Day on Kashmir, a prominent Kashmiri leader has denounced India’s “shocking” human rights violations, contempt for international law and binding self-determination resolutions of the United Nations Security Council on Jammu and Kashmir as the country (India) marked Republic Day.
In a statement, Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary-General of Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum, an advocacy group, regretted the “studied unconcern” of the Kashmir dispute, saying it has given India a sense of total impunity, states the Associated Press of Pakistan dated January 26, 2021.
On this solidarity day, February 5th last week, when PM Khan was assuring the Kashmiri people that his nation was behind the just demands of the Kashmiri people then the same day in the far flung United States of America, some high profile American leaders were expressing their solidarity with the people of oppressed people of Kashmir.
This was just a breaking news for the world and more so for the South Asian region which has become a hotbed for the declared rivals India and Pakistan.
To speak the truth, the entire South Asian region has been kept a hostage by the expansionist Indian establishment.
In fact these American leaders were observing February 5th as Solidarity day with the people of Kashmir much the same way PM Khan was marking the day back in Pakistan.
Bluntly saying, the event that happened in the USA was not even in the imagination of the Pakistan government and PM Khan let alone the population across the South Asian region.
The story runs like this:
The stage was set already on August 9, 2019-just four days after Indian Prime Minister Modi has changed the Status of Kashmir on August 5, 2019. America began listening to Kashmiri oppression from this date.
This was the turning point so to say.
In a far flung America then under the Trump administration, Senator Bob Menendez and Eliot L. Engel had issued a joint statement on Indian government’s bid to change the status of Kashmir wherein both had said that “as the world’s largest democracy, India has an opportunity to demonstrate for all its citizens the importance of protecting and promoting equal rights, including freedom of assembly, access to information, and equal protections under the law. Transparency and political participation are the cornerstones of representative democracies, and we hope the Indian government will abide by these principles in Jammu and Kashmir”.
Senator Bob Menendez, is a ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representative Eliot L. Engel, is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee.
Moreover, Senator Menendez had also issued a press note in addition attracting the attention of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing his concerns about India’s Citizenship Amendment Act and the potential for the establishment of a National Register of Citizens.
To recall, the Indian Citizenship Amendment Act seeks to give citizenship to most religious minority groups in the country except for Muslims.
This does mean that some sensible and responsible US Leaders have had abundant sympathies for the oppressed people of Kashmir but due to the lack of the dissemination of the said news, neither the people of Kashmir nor the Pakistani government knew of the meaningful support that had been accumulating in the US in favor of the Kashmiri people and conversely against the Indian government’s repression, oppression being made on the people of the Kashmir who were languishing in the “world’s largest open air jail”-that is Kashmir now more so since August 5, 2019.
As per the Hindustan Times, August 6, 2020, some US democrats had issued a joint statement drawing the attention of the Indian government on August 6, 2020, stating that “We note with concern that conditions in Jammu and Kashmir have not normalized one year after India’s repeal of Article 370 and the establishment of Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory,” Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, and Michael T McCaul, the top Republican called the ranking member, wrote in the letter sent to Indian Foreign Minister S. Jay Shankar.
And now a year after a resolution petitioning New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to declare February 5 as Kashmir American Day was passed by the State’s Legislative Assembly on February 3.
It was a majority vote.
The resolution, which was sponsored by two Democratic Assemblymen, Nader Sayegh and Nick Perry, says, “The Kashmiri community has overcome adversity, shown perseverance, and established themselves as one of the pillars of the New York immigrant communities.”
The Business Recorder February 7, writes that, “The passing of the resolution on the Kashmir Solidarity Day (5th February, 2021) when the government and the people of Pakistan and Kashmiris across the world were expressing their unwavering support and solidarity with the people in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) in their just struggle for the right to self-determination is a welcome development,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhari.
Responding to media queries regarding the resolution passed by New York State Assembly to proclaim February 5th as “Kashmir American Day”, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhari further said that the New York State Assembly has passed a legislative resolution, making New York the first State in the US to proclaim February 5th 2021 as “Kashmir American Day”.
Thus, writes the Pakistan Observer dated February 6, 2021, that “New York State Assembly, has become the first state in the United States to recognize February 5 as ‘Kashmir Day’ expressing solidarity with Kashmiris struggling for getting the right to self-determination from India”.
The New York State Assembly adopted a resolution by a voice vote proclaiming the Feb 5 as Kashmir Day.
One could understand the “pain” of the Indian establishment with the New York event.
“The State of New York endeavors to champion human rights including the freedom of religion, movement, and expression for all Kashmiri people,” said the resolution, writes the Observer.
Pakistan’s Consul General in New York Ayesha Ali has appreciated the role of assembly member Nader Sayegh and APAG – the American-Pakistani Advocacy Group – in this regard, informs the Pakistan Observer.
Ayesha Ali through a Tweet dated February 5 congratulates the New York State Assembly for passing the resolution to make New York the first State in US to recognize February 5th as “Kashmir Day”. We appreciate the role of Assembly member Nader Sayegh and APAG USA in this context”, adds the Tweet. .
In the meanwhile, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan has said that the victory of the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as US President and Vice President of the United States has created a ray of hope for the oppressed people of Kashmir as both leaders had publicly spoken against the Indian brutalities and the human rights violations in the disputed territory.
Exactly after 15 days of President Joe Biden in the office of the US administration, the New York State Assembly took this step in recognizing February 5 as Kashmir Solidarity day.
This must have some political connotation which expectedly others will also follow the New York suit in the days ahead.
Now it is the turn of the Capitals from the European Countries to follow the New York suit.
The Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram and the Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed Khan, as well as Consul General in New York Ayesha Ali, participated in separate webinars along with academics, Kashmiri leaders and activists, on February 5th 2021, to highlight the significance of the Solidarity day and reiterate Pakistan’s resolve to stand by the Kashmiri people, say International media sources.
In the meanwhile, the US State Department Spokesperson has said that the new US President considers Kashmir as a Human Rights issue and that the President wants an “immediate” solution to the lingering Kashmir issue.
Talking to an International media, February 7, 2021, Zed Tarar said that President Joe Biden has made it clear that Human Rights are a “fundamental issue for the United States.
Responding to a question on Pakistan-US and Pakistan-China relations, Zed Tarar said that the impression that bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States would be viewed only from China’s point of view was not correct. Another of our priorities is peace and stability in Afghanistan and it is not possible to establish peace and stability in Afghanistan without Pakistan”.
To recall, Bernie Sanders had told the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America in September 2019 that he was “deeply concerned” about the situation in Kashmir and had demanded that the US administration take bold steps in support of a UN effort to resolve the (Kashmir) issue.
Similarly, during the election campaign, Joe Biden on June 20, 2020 had said that “In Kashmir, the Indian government should take all necessary steps to restore rights of all the people of Kashmir. Restrictions on dissent, such as preventing peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the internet, weakens democracy”.
Biden further said, says Hindu daily dated June 20 that “he has been disappointed by the measures that the government of India has taken with the implementation and aftermath of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act into law”.
And at the moment, Joe Biden is the US President. The Kashmiris have now reasons to expect that President Biden will press India’s oppressive regime controlled by Islamophobic Prime Minister Modi to follow the UN Security Council resolutions already made on Kashmir to take a formal shape-that is the conduct of plebiscite.
In a fresh interview, Moeed Yusuf, the National Security Advisor of Pakistan, has said that “India’s unilateral actions in Kashmir have paved the way for the International Community to intervene and resolve the longstanding dispute.
Talking to Turkish News Agency, AA, on February 7, 2021, Dr. Moeed has called on the world to compel India to implement International Law vis-à-vis Kashmir that is the UN Security Council resolutions that call for a plebiscite in the Muslim majority region. That’s all.