observes February 5 as Kashmir Solidarity Day since 1990. The genesis of the
day is the February 4, 1990, all-party conference that Benazir Bhutto had
called to establish a non-partisan, ‘national’ position on the Kashmir issue.
This was a pre-emptive move to ensure that the opposition did not outwit her.
Recognising that Benazir had stolen a march, Nawaz Sharif, who was then the
Chief Minister of Punjab and Benazir’s staunch opponent, gave call for a strike
on February 5. This one-upmanship was done even though international affairs
did not come within the remit of a provincial government. Benazir, however,
finessed Nawaz’s call for a strike by declaring February 5 a public holiday
that became Kashmir Solidarity Day. Pointedly, no mention was made then, or
now, of the people of Jammu and Ladakh.
Solidarity Day was supposed to be special since it came in the wake of the
August 5, 2019 developments that did away with the special status of J&K
under Article 370. As in the past, several events were held in the country and
in several world capitals. The moot point is, apart from the hype and rhetoric,
what has the Kashmir Solidarity Day achieved after being observed for three
answer has to be — nothing. As one Pakistani journalist aptly noted, all
resolutions, conferences and demonstrations were meant to burnish the
government’s image and make it look good for domestic audiences, but it has had
no impact on the ground reality. Moreover, the Kashmiris are well aware of Ayub
Khan’s assertion in 1965 that never again will Pakistan ‘risk 100 million
Pakistanis for five million Kashmiris’.
keynote address on February 5, to the so-called Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)
Assembly, all that Prime Minister Imran Khan could come up with was the
announcement of the setting up of yet another Kashmir committee in consultation
with the so-called AJK government to further highlight the issue. This
presumably would be in addition to the various Kashmir committees and cells
already existing. Imran Khan had earlier declared himself as the ambassador of
Kashmir, though many in Pakistan would rather wish that he be the Prime
Minister and start governing.
Pakistan National Assembly and Senate passed routine resolutions expressing
solidarity with the people of Kashmir. What was noticeable was that the session
of the National Assembly was thinly attended. This even compelled the Minister
for Aviation to state: “The lack of interest within our ranks on the Kashmir
issue is regrettable.”
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) legislator said the empty chairs had exposed the
‘seriousness’ on the part of the members who were present in large numbers when
the extension of the service chiefs’ Bill was being passed. The Speaker, Asad
Qaiser, had to plead with parliamentary leaders to ensure the presence of their
members in the House, ‘at least at the time of the passage of the resolution’.
session was even a bigger mockery. The Deputy Chairman, who was presiding,
adjourned the House till February 7 without the solidarity resolution even
being tabled, let alone adopted. It was then that the Senate Chairman rushed to
the House and announced a 10-minutes recess, instead of adjournment.
Thereafter, the resolution was ‘adopted’. However, parliamentary experts
pointed out that once the session was adjourned, the Chairman was supposed to
complete the formalities for a fresh session. This was not done. Hence, the
resolution had no validity.
hurts Pakistan more than the lack of support for its Kashmir narrative from
most of the Muslim world. Symptomatic of Pakistan’s frustration was Imran
Khan’s rebuke of ‘brotherly Islamic countries’. In his address to a gathering
in Malaysia on February 4, he regretted that the Organisation of Islamic
Cooperation (OIC) could not come up with one voice against the alleged human
rights violations in Kashmir.
Daily Times wrote editorially on February 6: ‘Every year, we go through the
motions of Kashmir Solidarity Day…yet nothing really changes.’ In its
editorial, The Express Tribune noted on February 10: ‘The day was marked the
same way as it always is...statements that by now any Pakistani would be able
to recite by heart.’ Political analyst Imran Jan wrote in The Express Tribune
on February 6 that Pakistan was relentlessly telling the Kashmiris that it
stood with them against India. ‘It is like signing a cheque of an account that has
no money or strenuously offering lunch to a visiting guest during Ramazan.’
all the bombast, rallies and conferences, Kashmir Solidarity Day this year, as
on previous such days, was a damp squib. What is significant is that February 5
coincides with the anniversary of the brutal murder of Indian diplomat Ravindra
Mhatre, posted in Birmingham, UK. Pakistan-backed Kashmiri terrorists had
kidnapped Mhatre on February 3, 1984, and killed him two days later. Thus,
Pakistan has been observing a national holiday on the day when an Indian
diplomat was murdered by Pakistan-backed Kashmiri terrorists and calling it
Kashmir Solidarity Day. Symbolically at least, Pakistan’s support of terrorist
activities in Kashmir begins from this date. That it continues to be observed
each year says something about Pakistan’s mentality. It is not surprising,
therefore, that observing a terrorist act as a solidarity day gets no
perhaps time that India started observing February 5 in an appropriate manner,
like a day when Pakistan-sponsored terrorism commenced in Kashmir.
Devasher is a Member, National Security Advisory Board Views are personal
Headline: Few takers for Pak’s Kashmir
Source: The Tribune India