Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Pakistani social activist Malala Yousafzai on Thursday called on the international community to end the suffering of the children in Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under a security and information blockade since Sunday night. The following day, the Indian government amended the Constitution to take away Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and bifurcated it into two union territories. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were formally arrested on Monday, a day after they were placed under house arrest.
“The people of Kashmir have lived in conflict since I was a child, since my mother and father were children, since my grandparents were young,” Yousafzai said in a statement on Twitter. “For seven decades, the children of Kashmir have grown up admist violence.”
She said South Asia – which is her home – is shared with 1.8 billion people including Kashmiris. The 22-year-old activist said she believes everybody can live in peace. “There is no need for us to continue to suffer and hurt each other,” she added. “Today I am worried about the safety of the Kashmiri children and women, the most vulnerable to violence and the most likely to suffer losses in conflict.”
“I hope all South Asians, the international community and concerned authorities respond to their suffering,” Yousafzai said in conclusion. She said disagreements aside, the international community must always defend human rights and prioritise the safety of children and women. She added that the seven-decade old Kashmir conflict must be resolved peacefully.
Yousafzai became a household name in 2012 when a Taliban militant shot her in the head as punishment for campaigning for girls’ right to education.
Meanwhile, India on Thursday said Pakistan’s decision to downgrade diplomatic relations was meant to present an “alarming picture” of the bilateral ties to the international community. The reasons given by Islamabad were not supported by “facts on the ground”.
Pakistan’s decision to expel India’s envoy and not send its own to New Delhi came on Wednesday evening, a day after the Indian Parliament approved withdrawing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan had also said it would bring up the matter at the United Nations Security Council and would “review bilateral arrangements”.