LAHORE: Condemning in the strongest terms the recent Indian atrocities in held Kashmir, the government has decided to observe July 19 as a black day to highlight the Kashmir issue at the international level. The day has been observed as ‘Pakistan Accession Day’ in India-held Kashmir since 1948.

The decision was taken at a special cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday.

The cabinet also decided to convene a joint session of parliament next week to represent a united stance of the nation on the issue of Kashmir. It urged the United Nations to restart its efforts for implementation of its resolutions on Kashmir.

At least 40 Kashmiri protesters have died in Indian forces’ firing following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last week.

“…announcing to observe July 19 as a black day against Indian atrocities, the cabinet pledged that under the leadership of the prime minister, the government will continue extending moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris in their just struggle for right to self-determination and will never let them alone in any case,” said a press release issued after the cabinet meeting.

Reacting to the cabinet meeting, the Indian external affairs ministry called it continued attempts by Pakistan to interfere in its “internal matters”.

“India completely and unequivocally rejects the decisions adopted by cabinet of Pakistan on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. We are dismayed at the continued attempts by Pakistan to interfere in our internal matters,” reads a statement posted by the ministry’s spokesman Vikas Swarup on his Twitter account.

Prime Minister Sharif had left his Raiwind residence for the first time since his return from London on July 9 after his open-heart surgery to chair the cabinet meeting at Governor House in Lahore. He was quoted as urging the UN “to accomplish its incomplete agenda on Kashmir and ensure granting the Kashmiris their right to self-determination”.

He regretted that New Delhi was terming the freedom movement of Kashmiris terrorism and inflicting barbarous atrocities on them. “I and the Pakistani nation as a whole are standing by the Kashmiris who are fighting the freedom war and Indian aggression will only strengthen their determination.”

The prime minister said Indian brutalities would give impetus to the freedom struggle as 700,000 Indian soldiers deployed in held Kashmir could not suppress the struggle of Kashmiris.

He urged the comity of nations to help check Indian atrocities on Kashmiri people and warned that “if India does not respect sentiments of the people of South Asia it will not be a good omen for the regional peace”.

Mr Sharif called Burhan Wani a martyr of independence movement and asked the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Human Rights to use all channels at their disposal for highlighting the violation of human rights in the held valley and supporting the freedom struggle of Kashmiris.

Acting on the prime minister’s directive, the human rights ministry has decided to write a letter to NGOs working on human rights issues across the world to highlight Indian forces’ atrocities in the held valley.

“We are writing a letter on Saturday (today) to all Indian NGOs working on human rights, drawing their attention towards violations of human rights in held Kashmir. Copies of the letter will also be sent to HR NGOs across the world,” Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael said.

“On Sunday, all civil society organisations will be invited to form a human chain on Main Boulevard of Gulberg in Lahore to show solidarity with the Kashmiri brethren suffering at the hands of Indian occupying forces,” he added.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry briefed the cabinet on the situation in Kashmir.

At the outset of meeting, the cabinet offered Fateha for Abdul Sattar Edhi, Amjad Sabri and Shuhada-i-Kashmir. It also condemned the terrorist attacks in France, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Turkey and Indonesia.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2016

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