New Delhi, Feb. 4: Contrary to what the Pakistan government would have the world believe, Kashmir Solidarity Day is no spontaneous expression of grief, but an event stage-managed by Islamabad with professional help.
The day is observed in Pakistan every year to spew venom at India.
A recent notice from Pakistan’s ministry of Kashmir affairs read: “A Kashmir Convention will be held in the Convention Centre, Islamabad, to commemorate Kashmir Solidarity Day on 5th February, 2003, from 7 pm to 9.30 pm. Applications are invited from reputable event management firms to undertake the following assignments....”
The notice, signed by Kashmir Convention sub-committee chairman S.M. Junaid, emphasised that “the bidding firms shall submit their technical and financial proposals in separate envelopes marked as ‘Bid for Kashmir Convention’ by 23rd January 2003”.
“Work order for the selected firm will be issued on 24th January, 2003. The financial proposals must be accompanied by a call deposit of Rs 2,00,000 which will be retained until the event,” the notice said.
Among the assignments the event management firms have been given are:
n“Preparation of video CDs to highlight atrocities being perpetrated by Indian armed forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir”
n“Production and staging of a tableau with the theme of ‘Human Sufferings in Kashmir: Call for Justice”
n“Arranging a group of Kashmiri girls in Kashmiri outfit for staging a Kashmiri tarana and national anthem”
n“Preparation of backdrop, stage decor and stage for tableau in the centre of the Convention Centre”
n“Arrangement for multi-media screening of the convention proceedings, with acoustic system on three mega screens to be installed in the function hall”
n“Dinner to be served to 1,500 persons (copy of the menu to be obtained from the undersigned)”
These apart, the firms are also asked to design and print 3,000 invitation cards, distribute them and seek confirmation from invitees.
One of the reasons why Pakistan has to stage-manage its solidarity show is its poor track record and the situation in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) — or “Azad Kashmir” as Islamabad calls it.
According to Amir Humza Qureshi, founder of the Gilgit-Baltistan Jamhoori Mahaz, “India is not perpetrating even one-hundredth part of the repression that people spread over an area of 28,000 miles have been facing for the past 50 years”.
Islamabad authorities have jailed Qureshi several times for his “anti-Pakistani” views.
In a report published by South Asian Voice, Qureshi is quoted as saying: “The Indian government has given people all their fundamental human rights and in spite of that they are in a state of confrontation against the government.”
“But the people of this region (Northern Areas) are far behind the rest of the world in matters of fundamental human rights, justice and economic development,” Qureshi is quoted as saying.
According to this report, the people of PoK and Northern Areas are among the poorest in Pakistan because no development worth the name has ever been carried out.
Though a PoK government is elected at regular intervals, it has few powers; it is Islamabad that runs the show, the report says.
Successive governments in Pakistan have gone to great lengths to suppress the democratic voice of the PoK people. Islamabad, the report says, has deliberately kept the status of PoK and Northern Areas ambiguous, neither allowing them to secede nor integrate fully with the rest of Pakistan.
The Pakistani government that has often called for “self determination” in Jammu and Kashmir has taken enough steps to ensure that no anti-Pakistani view is expressed in areas under its control.
For example, the Pakistani constitution has provisions which make it clear that “no person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudiced or detrimental to the ideology of the state’s accession to Pakistan”.