MUZAFFARABAD: Participants of a public meeting organised by the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) here on Monday to mark the martyrdom anniversary of an iconic freedom fighter warned Islamabad against “restricting movement and suppressing the voice of pro-freedom leadership and activists” in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

“This ‘Martyrs of Kashmir Conference’ warns the government of Pakistan to desist from locking up [offices] and strangling movement and feelings of mujahideen and their leadership, engaged in this great freedom struggle, in the base camp of the freedom movement (AJK),” said a resolution adopted by the meeting.

The public meeting was held at an open space along the Bank Road on the occasion of the third martyrdom anniversary of Burhan Wani, 22-year-old operational commander of Hizbul Mujahideen who was martyred by the Indian army in an alleged encounter in the Kokernag area of India-held Kashmir on July 8, 2016, along with two other colleagues. JI deputy chief Liaquat Baloch was the chief speaker at the event.

“Earlier, Gen Pervez Musharraf had backstabbed this [Kashmir freedom] movement and if again salt is rubbed into the wounds of the Kashmiris or any conspiracy is hatched against their cause, Pakistan will have to face its disastrous repercussions,” warned the resolution.

The warning came against the backdrop of crackdown that Pakistan said it had launched on militant groups after a deadly suicide attack on an army convoy in the Pulwama area of India-held Kashmir in February this year.

On Sunday, senior AJK JI leader Shaikh Aqeelur Rehman had alleged during an informal conversation with reporters that Pakistan was not only arresting people associated with the Kashmir freedom movement, it had also shut down the offices of pro-freedom organisations, including that of the largest and mainly indigenous Hizbul Mujahideen.

In his speech, Mr Baloch maintained that Pakistan and India could not decide the future of Kashmir as this would be done by the Kashmiris themselves in accordance with their wishes and aspirations. “Any solution that the Kashmiris have reservations about will not be allowed to be imposed upon them. The Jamaat-i-Islami stands firmly by the Kashmiris and will not tolerate betrayal with the sacred blood of the Kashmiris,” he said.

Calling upon parliament and national leadership [of Pakistan] to adopt a uniform stand on Kashmir and formulate a national Kashmir policy, he said Islamabad should expose the “ugly face of Narendra Modi” instead of begging dialogue [from him].

“The hands of Mr Modi are stained with the blood of the Kashmiris and supporting India for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council is betrayal with the blood of the Kashmiris,” he said. “The government of Pakistan should show same amount of courage and determination with regard to Kashmir as was displayed by the Afghan leadership and people while fighting and defeating the US, Britain and Russia,” he added.

AJK JI chief Dr Khalid Mahmood regretted that the rulers in Islamabad had failed to exploit the UN High Commissioner’s report on Kashmir as well as findings of other independent international organisations exposing worst human rights violations at the hands of Indian troops.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2019