By Zehra Nur Duz
ANKARA (AA) – Wednesday’s remarks at the UN by Turkey’s president on the Kashmir issue won widespread acclaim.
Addressing the 74th General Assembly, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that a solution to the Kashmir issue, which has persisted for 72 years, can only be found through dialogue.
"In order for the Kashmiri people to look at a safe future together with their Pakistani and Indian neighbors, it is imperative to solve the problem through dialogue and on the basis of justice and equity, not through clashes," said Erdogan.
He said residents of Jammu and Kashmir are "virtually under blockade with 8 million people, unfortunately, unable to step outside of Kashmir," referring to an Indian government clampdown imposed last month.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked Erdogan for raising the Kashmir issue before world leaders at the UN.
"We are very thankful that the president has taken a very principled stance," said Khan, adding that Pakistan and Turkey have a "very good relationship."
The official Twitter account of Pakistan’s government also shared Erdogan's remarks on Kashmir in a banner with his picture.
"We salute President Erdogan for forcefully raising the issue of occupied Kashmir in his address today to the UN General Assembly and also referring to UN resolutions on the issue," said Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's envoy to the UN.
- Social media storm
Thousands of people from Pakistan and Kashmir also flooded social media with messages thanking Erdogan for mentioning Kashmir in his speech.
#OurVoiceErdogan became the top trending hashtag on Twitter, garnering nearly 300,000 tweets in a few hours.
“President Erdogan conquered the hearts of the people of Kashmir with his statement at the 74th UN General Assembly,” Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum, said in a written statement.
Fai stressed that Erdogan's speech provided the most reasonable, practical, and applicable option for solving the Kashmir issue.
Tensions between the two South Asian nuclear neighbors have mounted following the Indian government’s move on Aug. 5 to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since then, with the government blocking communication access and imposing restrictions on movement to thwart any protests in the region.
Several rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.
India said that 93% of the restrictions have been eased in the conflict-ridden region, a claim that Anadolu Agency could not independently verify.
From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed a special status under the Indian constitution which allowed it to enact its own laws. The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.
Also, the Indian government further downgraded and divided the disputed region into two centrally controlled “union territories.''
India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.