27th of October is commemorated as the Black Day for Kashmir every year by Pakistan as a part of its struggle to emancipate Kashmir from the Indian atrocities. It is the day when the Instrument of Accession was signed and Jammu and Kashmir was handed over to India. Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan has been quite vocal and expressive about his views on Kashmir dispute. He has made two speeches in the United Nations General Assembly so far. In both of his speeches, he condemned India for murdering innocent Kashmiris for its personal interests.
Thousands of people celebrated the Black Day across Pakistan this year as well. People took to streets and massive rallies were conducted in order to express their sentiments on the Kashmir cause. PM Imran Khan reiterated his resolve on the Kashmir conflict. He said that he will never stop raising his voice against the unjust Indian occupation of Kashmir unless they are given the right to self-determination as promised by the United Nations Security Council. Several other officials including the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari all came out and highly criticized India.
The nuclear hegemonies of South Asia have been in constant tussle with each other regarding the Kashmir dispute. Both sides claim that they are more deserving of the contested region than the other. But both sides also have their sets of mistakes and strengths in the contention. On one hand, there is Pakistan which lays claim to Kashmir on the grounds of a Muslim majority population. On the other hand, there is India which claims that the Jammu & Kashmir region was granted to it in the Instrument of Accession on 27th October 1947.
Pakistan has various reasons to be adamant in its claim on Kashmir. The most important reason which it has made everyone believe is the religious empathy towards the Muslims of Kashmir. Perhaps they want it because of the Muslim majority. Perhaps they need it for its waters because a country who is 92% agriculture in nature, a region like Kashmir is a bounty. Maybe they need it because they are actually concerned about the brutalities being committed on the innocent Kashmiris for decades.
Whatever is the reason for their claims, Pakistan does have its share of strengths on its claim on the contentious region. Ever since India revoked the Article 370 in the Indian Administered Kashmir in August 2019, Pakistan has become more intense in its struggle towards Kashmir cause. The complete lockdown that was brought upon the people of IOK along with the daily civilian killings by Indian forces presented a violent image of India to the world. It played well on Pakistan’s side though. It earned India a lot of international criticism which benefitted Pakistan’s position.
India, on the other hand, had revoked the Article 370 because it was the ruling party’s manifesto ever since they came to power in 2019. A complete lockdown was required in the IOK because of the constant backing of Pakistan to militant groups in the region. India claims that Jammu and Kashmir was divided into two union territories on 5th August 2019 because India wanted to give Kashmir a legislature of its own.
India has a strong stance in its claim on Kashmir because of Pakistan’s name in the Financial Action Task Force FATF’s grey list which places Pakistan in the list of terror financing countries. It nurtures India’s view of a terrorist and violent Pakistan that wants to promote extremism in Kashmir as well. It also gives strength to India’s views that Pakistan is just carrying out its Jihadist policies against India rather than actually wanting to have Kashmir.
None of the strengths or weaknesses of India or Pakistan actually matter in the Kashmir conflict because it is to be resolved under the right to self-determination and referendum as decided by United Nations Security Council. The only thing that should matter the most is the will of Kashmiri people and not a country’s selfish ambitions in the region. If that is kept in view, neither India nor Pakistan have the full right to the contested region of Kashmir.
It is rightful to say that India has been causing excruciating agonies to the people of Indian Administered Kashmir for decades. It has even increased in intensity after the abrogation of the Article 370. India inflicted a complete communication ban on the region and Indian forces have murdered hundreds of people since then.
However, Pakistan is not an all guilt-free entity in this context. It has been orchestrating its opinions on the right to self-determination for Kashmir for decades but what has it done itself to the people of Gilgit Baltistan? They have been stripped of their right to self-determination and have been forcefully amalgamated as a separate province in Pakistan. The ruling government did not even consider carrying out a consensus with the public of Gilgit Baltistan. It is extremely heartless and imprudent on Pakistan’s side. The people of Gilgit Baltistan could also start celebrating a Black Day against Pakistan after this move.
Moreover, it is highly ironic of Pakistan to raise their voices for the enormities being committed on the Kashmir Muslims. The Uyghur Muslims living in Pakistan’s neighboring China have been subjected to brutal mass murders and extortions for years and Pakistan has never bothered to raise its voice for them. The reason being Pakistan’s endless list of profits that it has been yielding from China. It has dared not voice out its opinions for the brutalities being committed in the Chinese Concentration Camps.
The only peaceful and conciliatory end to the Kashmir conflict is a referendum as prescribed by the United Nations Security Council. It does not matter whether India’s stance is stronger or Pakistan’s. The people of Kashmir and their will matters and neither India nor Pakistan can claim with full confidence if the Kashmiris want to accede with them or want an identity of their own.
Author is doing BS in International Relation from Lahore College for Women University. She is a freelance writer. Previously worked with The Frontier Post, Dawn and Express Tribune.