Nation to observe Kashmir day today

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ISLAMABAD: The nation observes Kashmir Solidarity Day to express support for the people of the valley and their inalienable right to self-determination under the United Nations resolutions, in a message, the premier said the occasion is being observed to reaffirm support for Kashmiris who have been "subjected to an inhuman lockdown and communications blockade for six months now".

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that the "unprecedented length" of restrictions imposed in occupied Kashmir have "fully exposed the fiction of India's democracy and its scant regard for basic human norms," Radio Pakistan reported.

The premier is expected to address a special session of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly in Muzaffarabad.

Human chains will be formed at Kohala, Mangla, Holar and Azad Pattan points linking Pakistan and AJK. Meanwhile, in the federal capital, citizens will form a human chain at D-Chowk.

Various rallies, public meetings and seminars are also being held across the country on the occasion. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Governor Imran Ismail attended a rally in Karachi.

Annually, February 5 is observed as a day of solidarity with Kashmiris. This year, however, it comes after India stripped the region of its special status and imposed a lockdown.

The Indian government had on August 5, 2019, repealed Article 370 of its constitution, stripping occupied Kashmir of its special status. It also divided up occupied Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories; one Jammu and Kashmir, and the other the Buddhist-dominated high altitude region of Ladakh. The bifurcation of the territory came into effect on October 31 last year.

A strict lockdown and communications blackout has been in place in occupied Kashmir since August 5. Forcing people offline has crippled the economy and made it impossible to pay utility bills, make applications or just send a message to family outside the stricken zone.

Last month, limited mobile data services and internet were temporarily restored in the region.

The National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution calling for India to reverse the annexation of Jammu and Kashmir. The Senate also unanimously adopted a resolution assuring its support to the people of occupied Kashmir in the struggle for their right to self-determination.

Prime Minister Imran said Kashmirs, the ummah, Pakistan as well as the international community have rejected "India's travesty of law and justice".

"India has turned 8 million Kashmiris into prisoners in their own land through the deployment of over 900,000 occupation troops. History has few precedents of such suffocation and violation of the fundamental rights at this scale. Tens of thousands of innocent people have been arbitrarily detained and thousands of young boys abducted and incarcerated at undisclosed locations.

"This is a true manifestation of Indian state-terrorism," he said.

He said that India had been exposed before the world as a "majoritarian and authoritarian polity".

The premier said that that country demands that the military siege and communications blackout in the region be lifted and India's illegal actions are rescinded, adding that those who are under arrest should also be released.

Additionally, he said that international human rights organisations and international media should be given access to the region to evaluate the human rights situation.

"We urge the international community to play its role in ensuring respect for the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people and averting grave risks to global peace and security posed by India’s belligerent rhetoric and aggressive action," Prime Minister Imran said. He said that Pakistan would always stand shoulder to shoulder with Kashmiris.

"Pakistan will continue its full moral, political and diplomatic support until the Kashmiri people have realised their legitimate right of self-determination in accordance with the United Nations Charter and the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions."
International community should do more

In his message, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged the international community to do more for the people of occupied Kashmir "in this time of trial and tribulation", Radio Pakistan reported.

The foreign minister said that "each additional second on the lockdown clock is a burden on the world’s collective conscience".

He also urged India to allow a UN fact-finding mission to visit occupied Kashmir and assess the reports of human rights violations in the region.

In his message on the occasion, President Dr Arif Alvi said the nation is expressing soldiarity with the people of occupied Kashmir "who have rendered unmatched sacrifices for their legitimate right to self-determination over the course of past seven decades in an indomitable struggle for freedom from oppression".

"It has been a battle of hope against overwhelming odds, of courage against fear, and of sacrifice against tyranny; but through all of it, the Kashmiri people have persisted, unrelenting and proud like they have always been, to deny India the perverse gratification of subjugating them," he said.

Alvi said that Pakistan will continue to extend "political, moral and diplomatic support" to Kashmiris until they are given their legitimate right to self-determination as per the UNSC resolutions.

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