That Eid-e-Milad and Kashmir Solidarity Day are falling the same day, today, should hopefully prove to be a good omen for the oppressed people of occupied Kashmir. Their struggle to be free of the shackles India has kept them in for the past 64 years coincides with the day of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The birth of the Prophet (pbuh) was the beginning of an era that saw the promise of deliverance from the age-old legacy of ignorance fulfilled. The people of the world wish and pray that the coincidence heralds a promising future for the Kashmiris in which they are able to achieve their desired goal through the exercise of their right to vote in a free and fair plebiscite held under UN-auspices. Agreeing to hold a plebiscite would not be an act of favour by New Delhi; it is what India had proposed in the resolutions it presented before, and which were subsequently passed by, the UN Security Council. India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru made the same commitment to the people of Kashmir in public meetings and elsewhere. India is legally and morally bound to pave the way for the implementation of these resolutions and not create hurdles in honouring them. There is no justification for it to back out of the commitments it had made to the international community and float new-fangled theories like atoot ang. The international community, which goes about preaching the principle of government of the people, by the people and for the people should also pressurise this so-called great democracy to abide by these resolutions. The world, in fact, is party to the UNSC resolutions and obliged to ensure that the Kashmiris get their birthright of casting their vote to determine their future.

India’s enforced bondage is costing the people of Kashmir dearly. The pity is that while New Delhi’s 700,000-strong security force in the Valley commits untold excesses against them, the world looks the other way, downplaying the unbiased accounts of their miseries complied by international human rights agencies. Shooting down unarmed protestors, disappearances, accounts of torture and rape – all have remained largely out of the view of world public, thanks to the lure of India’s growing market for Western governments and its perceived strategic importance in the game of global influence.

But the spirit of solidarity with the Kashmiris calls upon Pakistan to remain steadfast in espousing their cause, rather Pakistan’s own natural interests, without any fear. There should be no hesitation in extending them moral, political and diplomatic support, highlighting the sufferings of the people of the Valley. The Pakistan government must realise that the grant of concessions like the MFN to India, without the precondition of the dispute’s just settlement, can only harm the Kashmir cause.