By Dr Sidra Aslam
LAHORE: “Freedom is meaningless for the free, its captivity that gives meaning to freedom.” The tug of war between India and Pakistan continues as Kashmir bleeds. Violence has ensued in Kashmir since it was split between India and Pakistan in 1947 and has killed tens of thousands. Kashmir has always been a disputed issue between the two neighboring countries. While we live a life of freedom in Pakistan, our Kashmiri brothers and sisters know the true price of independence at the expense of their lives. Daily, thousands of Kashmiris are martyred on their right of self-legislation. The issue of Kashmir is about humanity. How is the world silent about the killing of thousands of children using cluster bombs at the Line of Control. The use of cluster bombs is prohibited under the Geneva Convention Governing International Warfare. They are a war crime. Why did the peace leaders of the world say nothing when teenagers in Kashmir were shot blindly using pellet guns? According to a report, pellet guns have killed 24 and blinded 139 Kashmiris since 2010.
In the lead-up move, the Indian government revoked the special status accorded to Indian-occupied Kashmir in its constitution. A presidential decree issued on August 5th revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution that guaranteed exclusive rights to the Muslim-majority state, including the right to its own constitution and autonomy to make laws on all matters except defense, communications, and foreign affairs. Since then, Kashmir has been in a state of lockdown. The communication channels have been all shut down with no interaction with the outside world. The ATMs have run out of money, the pharmacies are depleted of the medicinal stock, and a crippling curfew has been imposed on the region since the past month.
In this time of crisis, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan announced that every Friday all the signals in the country would turn red from 12:00 pm PST to 12:30 pm PST in solidarity with Kashmir to show the world that Kashmir was and always will be a part of Pakistan. The University of Health Sciences in Lahore, following the notification issued by the PM of Pakistan, recently arranged a Kashmir mobilization campaign. The designated spot for the rally was at the Lahore Mall Road, in front of the Punjab Assembly. The buses of the University took us to the Punjab Assembly. All the students and administrative staff along with the Registrar of the University walked the entire length of Mall Road with Kashmiri flags and slogans of “Kashmir banay ga Pakistan.” Mall Road was jam-packed with people from all age groups that came out of their houses in the scorching sun to show Kashmiris that they are not alone in their struggles. It was a heart-warming sight to see Muslims standing up for a cause that the western world chose to neglect all these years.
It is our first and foremost duty to stand with the people of Kashmir in this hour of need. A little effort on our part could be the source of freedom of Kashmiris from their reign of enslavement. The UHS vouches to continue playing a significant role in this movement. It is imperative that we remember, “Being human is a given, but keeping our humanity is a choice.”