For the first time, the residence of Islamabad woke up to a pleasant surprise on World Human Rights Day: a ‘Kashmir Stall & Selfie Booth’ in the heart of the Pakistani capital.
The United Nations and the international community celebrate December 10 annually in remembrance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed in 1948. Pakistan witnesses on this day by the civil society, but this is the first time that an NGO organized a street activity to engage the public on behalf of Kashmir on this day. This is also an indication of the rising importance of Kashmir in Pakistani public discourse.
The Youth Forum For Kashmir, YFK, organized the stall & selfie booth at F-7, Jinnah Super Market. Nearly 30 young men and women ran the stall. They described themselves as ‘Kashmir Lobbyists’. The female activists spent the afternoon engaging passerby and shoppers. They asked them to write to Pakistani and international media, take selfies and pictures next to the special selfie booth, and apply for membership as activists for Kashmir.
“Our team met lots of men, women and children,” said Shaista Safi, from Baramulla in Indian-occupied Kashmir, whose family crossed into Pakistan when she was young. “This activity was meant to establish links between Kashmiri activists and the Pakistani public.”
Ms. Farzana Yaqoob, Minister of Social Welfare and Women’s Development (Azad Jammu & Kashmir) Cabinet joined YFK’s Kashmir Stall with her children. She appreciated YFK on this effort to highlight Kashmir in such a different way by engaging common people and utilizing the power of youth. A National Defence University (NDU) delegation also visited the stall.
Another activist, Ghulam Shabbir, said he helped command a team to cover the launch of the Kashmir Stall & Selfie Booth on social media. One female activist was seen asking a mother and her six year old daughter to take a selfie standing next to the selfie booth. “We will use this selfie to send a message worldwide that Pakistanis consider Kashmir their top priority,” said the activist Sisa, from Larkana, Sindh.
While the YFK team ran the Stall until the night, their colleagues sat as panelists on National TV Channel’s show during the day. They focused on World Human Rights Day but made sure that Kashmir is not forgotten on this day.
Youth Forum For Kashmir (YFK) is Pakistan’s first pro-Kashmir, registered and nonpartisan International lobbying group led by young Kashmiris and Pakistanis working to ensure justice to Kashmiris living under Indian-military occupation.