Pakistan and Iran have ancient ties. The region now called Pakistan was part of the Achaemenid Commonwealth founded in 559 BC by the great Iranian visionary Cyrus the Great, who, according to some very credible interpretations, was the enlightened Zulqarnayn mentioned in the Quran.
After the advent of Islam, a majority of the people in both areas became Muslim. Since then, the cultures of Iran and the areas now included in Pakistan have had many exchanges, enriching the art and literature on both sides of the border.
Against such background, many in Pakistan would welcome, not just politically but perhaps also personally, the recent statement of the supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei about the issue of Kashmir – an issue that is so close to the conscience of the people of Pakistan.
According to a news report published on the front-page of Dawn today, Khamenei asked Muslims across the world to back the pro-liberation campaigns in Kashmir, equating the region with Afghanistan and Iraq.
He has been quoted as saying, “Today the major duty of the elite of the Ummah is to provide help to the Palestinian nation, to sympathize and provide assistance to the nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Kashmir, to engage in struggle and resistance against the aggressions of the US and the Zionist regime.”
Reportedly, the Indian external affairs ministry has not been very pleased with this statement and on Friday lodged a protest with the Iranian embassy in New Delhi.
Especially for the youth of Pakistan, many among whom are turning into enthusiastic bloggers, and writers and producers of the “new media”, the best way of showing gratitude to such international support is, perhaps, to understand the issue of Kashmir objectively and to further elaborate the principle-centered stance of Pakistan on this matter.
In all the noise created by an almost senseless and irresponsible media today, we must not forget that the issue of Kashmir is not a sentimental matter for Pakistan. The issue is based on principles, and chief among those principles is the right of a people to choose their own destiny. Well-wishers abroad who express sympathy on this issue in a peaceful manner are not only showing sympathy with the plight of the people of this region but are also raising their voice for a just cause.