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LAHORE: Jamaat-i-Islami Emir Sirajul Haq says his party’s Kashmir march from Nasser Bagh to Wagah Border on Sunday (today) will send a clear message to Modi-led Indian government to pull its army out of the held-Kashmir.

“I think the Modi-led Indian government will be better off if it saves billions of rupees it continues to spend on its army operations to crush the freedom movement in the held-Kashmir and spend the amount on uplift of its huge population. In case of failure, it may end up facing separation tragedies,” he told Dawn on Saturday.

How many Kashmiris the Indian army would kill during the freedom movement. “I am sure, the Indian government will have to hold plebiscite in Kashmir one day,” he added.

The JI emir is of the view that dialogue with India should be based on single agenda -- Kashmir. “The party leaders receive calls from Kashmir on a daily basis and the Kashmiri leaders seek support from the government and the nation.”

He said the JI had played a key role in constitution of a committee on the issue of Kashmir. The committee comprises Mushahid Hussain, Nayyar Bokhari, Ijazul Haq, S.M. Zafar, Barrister Sultan Mahmood and others and it would soon meet the prime minister.

The JI’s Kashmir march to be led by Mr Haq and other senior party leaders will begin from Nasser Bagh at 3pm. The Lahore and provincial administrations have completed all administrative and logistic arrangements and invited the opposition and ruling parties and the public at large to join them. It will take a couple of hours to reach Wagah as the JI expects participation of a number of party workers and general public.

“All people including women are invited. We have done all arrangements for their transport and security,” the JI emir claimed. He said the core objective of the march was not only to support the freedom movement in the held-Kashmir but also to build pressure on the Indian government to stop atrocities there, create awareness among the masses and keep the Kashmir issue alive.

It’s also meant to bring all political parties under an umbrella to come up with a strategy on Kashmir. “I have met Imran Khan, Khursheed Shah, Aftab Sherpao and other politicians to make them join hands for the cause,” he said. “But I am surprised and worried that the government’s silence over the issue may push the Kashmiris into isolation,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2016