Kashmir Solidarity Day: A never-ending wait to peaceful resolution
Pakistan will mark Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5 (today) alike every year in reiteration of a demand to peaceful solution to a longstanding territorial dispute for decades with India.
The day is being marked from February 5, 1990 every year to protest Indian occupation on part of Kashmir. It also reminds us sacrifices of millions of Kashmiris who fought for their rights. The dispute of Kashmir dates back to 1947 at the time of inception of Pakistan. Among major issues including refugees and water distribution at the time of independence, accession of princely states from British rule was also a core issues and Kashmir was one of such states to be seceded either to India or Pakistan.
Tracing its history, Kashmir had a Hindu ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, but his subjects were mostly Muslims, accounting to 78 percent of the total population. The Maharaja was reluctant to join either India or Pakistan. But Lord Mountbatten urged him to take a decision to join either of the states before August 15, 1947.
By October 1947, the war of Kashmir had begun in earnest. The Pathan tribesmen from the North West Frontier Province, wanting to avenge the deaths of their brothers, invaded the valley. On reaching the valley of Kashmir, they defeated the Maharaja’s troops and reached the gates of Srinagar, the capital. The Maharaja sensing his defeat took refuge in Jammu whence he appealed to India to send troops to halt the onslaught of the tribesmen. India agreed on the condition that Kashmir would accede to India. On October 26, 1947, the Maharaja acceded to India. Lord Mountbatten accepted the accession on behalf of India.
In January 1948, India took the dispute to the UN Security Council. There it accused Pakistan of aggression and demanded that Pakistan withdraw its tribesmen. But Pakistan held that the accession of Kashmir had been brought about by force. The government requested the Security Council to arrange a cease-fire and asked both the tribesmen and the Indian troops to withdraw so that a free and impartial plebiscite could be held to ascertain the wishes of the people of Kashmir.
While the Kashmir issue was still on the table, the Indian troops launched a full-scale attack and drove the tribesmen right back to the Pakistani border. Pakistan rushed its regular troops into Kashmir and a full-scale war with India ensued. Pakistani forces took control of the Azad Kashmir Army. But the Security Council on August 13, 1948, called for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of all Pakistani and Indian troops and holding of plebiscite under United Nations’ supervision. Both the Indian and Pakistani governments accepted the resolution.
In January 1949, the resolution began to be implemented. In July 1949, the ceasefire line was demarcated. Pakistan’s side of Kashmir consisted of some parts of Jammu, Poonch, some areas of Western Kashmir, Gilgit, and a great chunk of Ladakh territory near the Chinese border in the North. India kept the valley of Kashmir, Jammu and the remainder of Ladakh territory near the Tibet border.
Since the dispute emerged, India and Pakistan have fought a high-scale war in 1965 and a strong military-level confrontation on Kargil issue in 1999, revolving around a Kashmir row.
It may be mentioned here that Azad Jammu and Kashmir has a population of 4.5 million people.
It’s been since 1949 that the cease-fire is in force. However, the issue is still not resolved, thus prolonging the wait for peaceful resolution to this decades-old dispute.