Pakistani Ambassador to Korea Shaukat Ali Mukadam speaks to supporters of the Friends of Kashmir Association for Kashmir Solidarity Day at a local restaurant in Seoul, Feb. 5. / Courtesy of the Pakistani Embassy
By Philip Iglauer
Pakistan’s Kashmir Solidarity Day was observed with “solemnity and fervor” by the Pakistani Embassy in Seoul and Friends of Kashmir Association, a Korean support group, and with support from the Pakistani expatriate community at a local restaurant, Feb. 5.
Kashmir Solidarity Day has been observed annually since 1990 in the South Asian Islamic nation as a day of protest against Indian control of part of Kashmir.
The Pakistani Embassy said this day is observed all over the world to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir in what the embassy described as “their valiant struggle against the repressive occupation by India.”
“The people of Kashmir have been struggling against Indian occupation for the last 65 years,” Pakistani Ambassador to Korea Shaukat Ali Mukadam said in a statement on the heels of what is for Pakistan a national holiday. “Kashmir is considered an unfinished issue of the partition of the Indian subcontinent by the British in 1947 into India and Pakistan.”
In welcome remarks during the gathering the Ambassador described the origins of the Kashmir dispute and the struggle of the Kashmiri people against Indian occupation.
The states of the subcontinent were given the choice of joining either India or Pakistan, keeping in view the preferences of the people of the particular state. While the people of Kashmir who were predominantly Muslims, preferred to merge with Pakistan, the ruler of the state, in connivance with the Indian leaders, opted to merge with India, the embassy said in the statement.
In 1949, the issue was taken to the United Nations, which decided that the matter of the accession of Kashmir to either India or Pakistan shall be decided through a plebiscite held in the state. Since that day, the statement said, India has not held such a plebiscite.
Elections held in 2008, which were regarded as relatively fair by some international observers, had a high voter turnout. Pro-Pakistan parties called for a boycott, however, and that led to the pro-India political party winning by a significant majority and forming the government in the state.
In the more than 20 years of conflict, since 1990 when fighting intensified, some 100,000 people have been killed, according to one estimate.
The solidarity day event of 5th February was attended by a large number of Pakistanis, Koreans and diplomats.
Mukadam also read out the message from Pakistan’s President and the Prime Minister re-affirming the country’s determination that “Pakistan shall continue to stand by our Kashmiri brethren and shall always provide them with moral, diplomatic and political support.”