Kashmir Day or Kashmir Solidarity Day is a public holiday in Pakistan on February 5 each year. It focuses on showing Pakistan’s support and unity with the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir, their ongoing freedom struggle, and to pay homage to Kashmiri martyrs who lost their lives fighting for Kashmir’s freedom.
Kashmir Day is observed by people throughout Pakistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK). It is an internationally recognised day observed by people, predominantly Kashmiris, worldwide. The day is marked by public processions, special prayers in mosques for the liberation of Kashmir and protests that are carried out against the Indian oppression of Kashmir.
Kashmir Day is also of particular political importance to major political and religious parties in both Pakistan and AJK. Processions, rallies, conferences and seminars are organized by many political and religious parties where politicians, heads of religious organizations, opinion leaders, and influential public figures address the masses and speak to support the Kashmiri freedom movement. These leaders and spokespeople also advocate a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. Long marches, and rallies sponsored by political organizations, religious parties and other organizations are held, in which people chant slogans to support the Kashmiri freedom struggle and to express solidarity with the Kashmiri people.
Another common spectacle is the formation of a human chain on all major routes leading to AJK from Pakistan. People stand in rows with their hands clasped forming a human chain on all major crossings into AJK from Pakistan. This symbolizes unity and solidarity to reassure Kashmiris that they are not alone in their struggle for freedom.
Special cultural programs and festivals are also held to promote Kashmiri culture and tradition. News and entertainment channels air special programs, talk shows, dramas and Kashmiri songs about the oppression and brutalities suffered by Kashmiris over the years. Educational institutions organize debate competitions and dialogue forums where students express their views and ideas for resolving Kashmiri-related issues.
There is a part of Kashmir called Azad Jammu Kashmir (Azad means “Liberated” in Urdu). Many Indians call it Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. Officially Pakistan recognizes AJK as a separate state, having its own parliament, head of state and governing institutions.
Kashmir Day was first observed in 1990 on call of Nawaz Sharif, who was the opposition leader and chief minister of Punjab at the time. Sharif appealed for a nationwide strike to protest against the Indian occupation of Kashmir and called for people to pray for the Kashmiri freedom movement’s success. The Pakistan People’s Party then declared February 5 as a public holiday and Kashmir Day has since been observed every year.
Kashmir remains our biggest contention. It is unfortunate that Kashmir, which is the core between the two countries, has suffered immense human right violations at the hands of Indian army in the last 30 years. The leadership of Pakistan and India now need to come to the table to resolve this and end the blame games. If leadership in India is ready then we will want to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. The strengthening of ties between the two nations will be beneficial for subcontinent as well. If India comes and take one step toward us then we will take two steps toward them. Right now it is one sided where India is constantly just blaming us on no bases. The trade ties between India and Pakistan should improve for not only the benefit of the two countries but for the humanity of South Asia as well. If we want a poverty free subcontinent then we must have good relationship and trade ties. I am the Pakistani who believes that to improve economics in the subcontinent trade between India and Pakistan is more important than other self or personal politicalized issues which are only on the bases of self-respect. On other hand one leader who leads the people he should have capacity to tolerate at its maximum for free momentum of humanity possibly.
Finally I argue that as long as both India and Pakistan cling to their historically-entrenched positions, there is hardly any chance for permanent peace in Kashmir which can prepare a radiant history for the upcoming years. The people of South Asia are very simple having the history of thousand years of the self-respect of humanity. They never thought to harm anyone. But there are some hidden powers which are not really interested to bring these two nations closer at the self-respect of humanity. All the world is watching and bloodshed is at its peaks in Kashmir. In these circumstances the seven main super power nations play their vital rule to secure the people of Kashmir and hand it over their liberty to them. It depends upon them how they want to serve their lives.
The writer is a freelance columnist.