Pakistan commitment to Kashmir's freedom 'firm and long-standing': Maleeha

Pakistan commitment to Kashmir's freedom 'firm and long-standing': Maleeha

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan's commitment to the "valiant" struggle of the Kashmiri people for their U.N.-recognized right of self-determination is "firm and long-standing," Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told a large gathering of Kashmiri and Pakistani community leaders on Saturday.

"We will continue to extend diplomatic, moral and political support to their legitimate cause," she said, while denouncing the large-scale brutalities being unleashed by the Indian security forces on men, women and children in occupied Kashmir.

Ambassador Lodhi was speaking at meeting held at the Pakistan House to mark the 71st anniversary of India's massive invasion and occupation of Kashmir, known as "Black Day."

"Every day of Indian occupation is a black day," she said in a voice chocked with emotion.

"The dark night that began on 27 Oct. (1947) with India sending occupation forces continues; but while you can physically and illegally occupy territory it is not possible to occupy hearts and minds," the Pakistani envoy said.

"Today we pay tribute to the brave people of Kashmir who have resisted occupation for over 70 years and continue to do so. We pay tribute to all the martyrs who made the ultimate sacrifice in their freedom struggle."

The Pakistan Mission to the U.N., she said, serves as the voice of the Kashmiri people at the world body.

"On our part, we have actively pursued the matter here at the UN," Ambassador Lodhi said, as she listed the steps taken to highlight the Kashmir dispute at the international level.

" I raised the Kashmir issue five times in the past 10 days and will do so again and again," she told the cheering audience.

Ambassador Lodhi also referred to the June 14 report of the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, which she said documented in detail the systematic violations of fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people, and called for an end to them. That report, she said, was also endorsed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Zeid's successor, Michelle Bachelet.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Lodhi said, the Indian occupation continues to commit, with impunity, gross violations of the fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people, especially referring to the murder of eminent journalists Shujjat Bukhari, and the arrest of another journalist Atif Sultan.

"India is not only bent on suppressing the Kashmiri people; it is also intent on trying to hide this reality at all costs."

At the outset, message of President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan were read out by Counsellor at the Pakistan Mission Saad Warraich and acting Consul-General Naeem Iqbal Cheema, respectively.

A documentary on Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir was also screened.

Other speakers on the occasion praised the services of Ambassador Lodhi and the Pakistan mission to the cause of Kashmir.

They included activists like Pervaiz Riaz, Raja Razak, Taj Khan, Sardar Imtiaz Garalvi, Shafqat Tanveer and Khawaja Farooq. Most of them underscored the need for stepping up activities in the United States to highlight the Kashmir dispute, especially lobbying with American lawmakers who are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The meeting concluded with A "dua' for the liberation of Kashmir from India's yoke and for the safety and security of Pakistan.