Kashmiris are grateful to Turkey for its support and diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the decades-old dispute, Pakistani Ambassador to Ankara Syrus Sajjad Qazi said late Tuesday.
"The people of Pakistan, the Kashmiris across the globe, the members of the Muslim ummah and indeed every person with a conscience, is truly grateful to the people of Turkey for their unambiguous, unwavering, unequivocal support for the just struggle of the Kashmiri people," he said at an event to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day in Ankara, which was organized jointly by the Pakistani Embassy and Economic and Social Research Center (ESAM).
The Kashmir dispute, one of the oldest on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council, erupted between India and Pakistan in 1947 after the end of British colonial rule. The U.N. Security Council called for a referendum to decide the region's fate in 1948. While India says elections held in territories controlled by administration backed by New Delhi, which decided to back accession to India, makes a referendum unnecessary, the U.N. and Pakistan say a referendum needs to take into account the views of voters throughout the former princely state. The Indian part of the region has been named Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan controls "Azadi Kashmir" as a semi-autonomous state.
Stressing that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute continues to remain one of the biggest challenges faced by the Muslims, Qazi said that Ankara, as the chair of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as well as an important member of the OIC Contact Group on the conflict "has been playing an important role in this regard."
Speaking at the event, the former leader of Turkey's Felicity Party (SP) ESAM President Recai Kutan said that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute was inherited by British colonialists as a deliberate action to play off Pakistan and India to each other, adding that the Muslim world should show a united stance for a solution to the issue.
Kashmiri Solidarity Day has been commemorated on Feb. 5 every year since, as a mark of solidarity with people living in Indian-administered Kashmir. The day is also marked in many countries, including the U.S. Hundreds of Kashmiri demonstrators gathered together in front of White House Sunday, demanding the initiation of a peace process between Pakistan and India.
Addressing the demonstrators, Ghulam Nabi Fai, president of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, said that the Kashmir dispute needs to be carefully examined by paying regard to the interests of the Kashmiri people.
Imtiaz Khan, Kashmiri-American Council president, said that the people of Kashmir gave a resounding rebuff to Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Kashmir as "he was greeted with empty streets and shuttered shops... to convey to him the feelings of the people of Kashmir."
Since 1947, more than 94,000 Kashmiris have been killed during clashes with Indian authorities, according to Pakistani sources. Islamabad has urged the international community to fulfill its moral and legal obligation by giving Kashmiris the chance to realize their inalienable right to self-determination in accordance with the Security Council resolutions.
India has about 500,000 soldiers deployed to its half of Kashmir, where separatists have for decades been fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan. The militants and police forces often confront each other in the region.
Indian police reported yesterday that two militants were killed in a gun battle with Indian police forces in the Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir.