Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider on Monday said that by repealing the special status granted to Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK), New Delhi has lost its control over the territory in its entirety.
Earlier today, India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stripped Kashmiris of the special autonomy they had for seven decades through a rushed presidential order. An indefinite curfew was imposed in IoK and elected leaders were put under house arrest.
By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in IoK and settle there permanently. Kashmiris as well as critics of India’s Hindu nationalist-led government see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.
In a press conference held in Islamabad today, Haider said that New Delhi had always maintained that it had provided special status to IoK under Article 370 of India's constitution. "They [India] have lost their own stance through this move," he said, adding that a session of the AJK assembly had been summoned to discuss the situation.
"India has formally lost Kashmir today. We were never a part of India but today it has lost Ladakh, Jammu and the valley as well," he declared.
Kashmiris in IoK are "fighting for their lives", the AJK premier said, adding that he feared India "would commit a genocide" in the region.
He said that the government should "not only counter India's propaganda but also present its own viewpoint before the world", cautioning that the revoking of IoK's special status will not only affect the held territory but also "spill over into Azad Kashmir, and that can create a situation between Pakistan and India".
"Yesterday, I told the foreign minister — and he agreed with me — that the [United Nations] fact-finding mission should be allowed to visit AJK. They should see that we have nothing to hide. This will put pressure on India because questions will be raised over [New Delhi's] refusal to provide the mission access to [IoK]," he said.
Haider urged the government to contact world leaders and forums to intervene and help resolve the Kashmir dispute.
Referring to the recent aggression by Indian forces across the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary, he said: "We trust the Pakistan Army and we know that it is capable of defending the LoC and Working Boundary. I assure you, if India tries any misadventure, every man, woman and child of AJK will stand with its forces."
"We have some scores to settle with the [Indian forces] as well. For the past 72 years, they have been committing atrocities against Kashmiris in [IoK] and from across the LoC as well," Haider said. He added that he was thankful to the Pakistani political parties for their support to the Kashmiri cause.