29 September 2023
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Posters of wailing mothers and battered children, of Indian officials attacking the ‘honour’ of Muslim women, of beatings and thrashing of young boys, mark the Kashmir Highway in Islamabad ahead of Independence Days of both Nations.

“Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of Partition!” “Kashmir is Pakistan’s jugular vein!,” “Kashmir and Pakistan are like one soul in two hearts!”

These are some of the common slogans every year on this day, to show support for Kashmiris living under Indian hegemony on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC).

Hafiz Saeed — the Punjabi self-proclaimed leader of Kashmiris — usually makes an appearance, as do other parties advocating for jihadin Kashmir.

The struggle must go on, they say. Pakistan won’t rest till Kashmiris are freed from Indian occupation.

Over the past decade, however, Kashmir had failed to evoke the same passion in Pakistanis as it did in the 1980s and 1990s.

Gallup Pakistan — which conducts periodic polls on Pakistani perceptions of the Kashmir conflict — revealed in 2016 that there is growing pessimism amongst Pakistanis over Kashmir’s independence.

Over the past 25 years, there has been a 14% increase in the number of Pakistani respondents who believe that it will take quite some time for Kashmir to gain independence; 19% increase in those who believe Kashmir will not be able to gain independence at all; and a 14% decrease in those who believed that Kashmir would gain independence in one or two years as compared to when the poll was first conducted in 1990.

The study also reveals that participation in Kashmir Day events fell to its lowest in 2015 when only 1% of Pakistanis actually took part in any events. Participation has generally remained low since 2010.

However, since Burhan Wani’s — commander of Hizbul Mujahideen — killing by the Indian army in July 2016, a new spell of violence has been unleashed in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK).


Abdul Gh Lone