La Presse article regarding Kashmir Solidarity Day
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Monday 10 February 2020
EN CE MOMENT
Solidarity Day with Kashmir: Always alongside the right causes
Last Wednesday in its premises at the Berges du Lac, the Embassy of Pakistan in Tunisia commemorated the day of solidarity with Kashmir whose crisis has dragged on, following the India-Pakistan conflict, since their independence in 1947. 73 years on and the UN resolution recognizing the right of the Kashmiri population to dispose of themselves, by free and universal referendum, has not, to date, been followed up. Yet, India had not objected to the accession of Kashmir to self-rule if its people so choose. So far, no action has been taken in this sense. India had backed down and hardened its position, refusing to hold a plebiscite/ referendum in Kashmir. Raising this issue in a recent interview with Essabah Daily, the head of Indian diplomacy, said that "Jammu and Kashmir has been an indivisible part of Indian territory since 1947"- a statement which has been categorically refuted by Pakistan. This, it seems, is just another nail stuck in the coffin of peace between the two countries.
Pakistan’s ambassador to Tunisia, Mr. Muhammad Hassen, had, in his commemorative speech, alerted to the abrogation by India of Articles 370 and 35A of its constitution conferring special rights and privileges to the residents of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The reason given is that this law eliminates or restricts the rights of other citizens of India. However, the cancellation, in 2019, of this specific provision, in force since 1954, is considered to be a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law which guarantees the Kashmiris their right to employment, education, acquisition of real estate and permanent settlement in the state. The Pakistani ambassador to Tunisia sees it as "one more step which makes the handling of this case even more difficult". He sees it as an Israeli-style political maneuver, resembling, according to him, the one adopted by Israel against the Palestinian people who are struggling to liberate their occupied territories.
It is noted that the disputed zone of Kashmir covers an area of 242 thousand km2, with 15 million inhabitants, the vast majority of whom (90%) are Muslim. It should be recalled that in October 1947, the Indian authorities had carried out massacres against the local population to punish their desire to join Pakistan, resulting in thousands of Kashmiri victims. For the record, we have never forgotten that Tunisia has always been on the side of just causes including the Palestinian one, but also for that of Kashmir. Former President Bourguiba had said, in March 1964, during the visit to Tunis made by a delegation of Kashmir led by the Grand Mufti Yusuf Shah in order to obtain support from Tunisia for the right of the Kashmiris to self-determination: "Our position on this matter is inspired by decisions taken by the Security Council. This does not mean that I support one party against another - either Muslims against Hindus or Pakistan against India, but it stems from the principle of respect for human dignity and the right of peoples to self-determination». This position continues, to the present day, to arouse Pakistan's admiration and consideration for Tunisian diplomacy and its role in consolidating the political and economic relations which bind the two brotherly countries.