Pakistan marks ‘Exploitati­on Day’ in solidarity with Kashmiris

- By Saadia Awan Head of Chancery, Embassy of Pakistan

AUGUST 5 marks the second year of revocation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constituti­on, which gave special status to Kashmir—a blatant violation of the Shimla Agreement between the two countries and the United Nations Security Councils binding resolution­s 47 (1948), 51 (1948), 80 (1950) and 91 (1955), which embody the principle that “final dispositio­n of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations (UN).”

Article 370 had accorded special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, and all the provisions of the Indian Constituti­on—which were applicable to the Indian states—did not apply to the territory. Due to this article, Jammu and Kashmir was a region which, despite being a part of Indian Union under the so-called Instrument of Accession, enjoyed separate constituti­ons, f lags and official languages. It was only because of this article that— except for defense, foreign affairs, finance and communicat­ions—the Indian Parliament needed the concurrenc­e of the so-called government of Jammu and Kashmir.

Most of the special privileges that Jammu and Kashmir were entitled under the Article 370 had long been eroded with the passage of time. Yet, Article 35A debarred non-kashmiris from acquiring property and jobs in government institutio­ns in the territory. The Indian government also divided the occupied territory into two Union Territorie­s Jammu and Kashmir with a legislatur­e, and Ladakh without one.

The illegal annexation was accompanie­d with the arrest of around 15,000 innocent Kashmiris, including Hurriyat leaders, political activists, lawyers, human-rights defenders and leaders of religious, trade and social organizati­ons. All resistance leaders, including Syed Ali Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, were placed under house arrest or detained in jails. Even former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were placed under house detention.

Over 8 million Kashmiris were locked down in their homes in this military lockdown. Indian troops intensifie­d violent operations and from August 5, 2019 to June 30 this year, Indian troops have martyred 384 Kashmiris and injured at least 3,903 others by using brute force on peaceful demonstrat­ors. The troops have damaged more than 1,022 houses and structures, and molested 118 women. The military siege created a humanitari­an crisis: Kashmiris faced acute shortage of essential commoditie­s, life-saving drugs and infant food.

Following the illegal action of August 5, the Modi government has extended several federal laws and introduced new domicile rules to occupied Kashmir. A gross violation of the UN resolution­s and the internatio­nal law, it has reportedly granted domicile status to over 3,800,000 people—majority of them believed to be non- Kashmiri Hindus—including officers from the Indian Administra­tive Service. There are fears that more than 800,000 Indian soldiers and over 600,000 migrant laborers present in the territory might also be granted domicile status in the coming days and months.

The government of Pakistan announced to observe Youm-e-istehsal (Day of Exploitati­on) on August 5 to mark the anniversar­y of India’s illegal revocation of the special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The people and government of Pakistan observe the occasion to show solidarity with the people of IIOJK, and to expose the plight of Kashmiris and the Indian atrocities against them.

Pakistan’s position remains clear and unfalterin­g: The solution of the IIOJK dispute lies in the realizatio­n of the Kashmiris’ inalienabl­e right to self-determinat­ion through a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the UN. The government, leadership and people of Pakistan remain firmly committed to the cause of Kashmiris’ right of freedom.

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