Pakistani Charge d’Affairs to South Korea Shahbaz M. Malik and Friends of Kashmir Association, a Korean support group that counts a former South Korean ambassador and a retired general as members, marked Kashmir Solidarity Day with a seminar in Seoul on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s Kashmir Solidarity Day has been observed annually since 1990 in Kashmir and around the world as a day of protest against Indian control over part of Kashmir.
In South Korea, it is attended by some of the approximately 8,000 Pakistani expatriates residing here. Wednesday’s seminar at a local hotel was attended by about 50 people including Pakistanis and South Koreans.
Malik said in a speech at the event that the day is observed “because the people of Pakistan must sustain and express solidarity with the people of Kashmir who still suffer under Hindu dominion.”
At the same time, however, India claims Pakistan interferes in the state of Jammu and Kashmir by stoking unrest in the region it sees as an integral part of its territory.
Retired General Ahn Choung-jun, a commander of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan from 1997-98, expressed his desire for a peaceful resolution of the conflict during the event.
The two South Asian neighbors possess nuclear weapons and fought four wars over the region since becoming independent nations in 1947. They indirectly clash repeatedly to this day.
“The people of Kashmir have been struggling against Indian occupation for the last 65 years,” Malik said. “The Kashmir issue is an issue of self-determination, and self-determination is a basic principle of the U.N. Charter.”
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, which led to the pro-India political party winning by a significant majority and forming the government in the state.
By Philip Iglauer (email@example.com)