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Joint political show of solidarity with Kashmiris unlikely

Updated August 11, 2019

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Demonstrators hold signs and chant slogans as they march in solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir, during a rally in Karachi on August 5. — Reuters/File
Demonstrators hold signs and chant slogans as they march in solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir, during a rally in Karachi on August 5. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: All the political parties of the country are unanimous on the issue of Kashmir and stressing the need for national unity in the wake of recent New Delhi move of revoking the special constitutional status of India-held Kashmir through repealing Article 370, but every party is busy arranging its own show on Aug 14 and 15, which the nation will be observing as the Independence Day and Black Day, respectively.

Background interviews with office-bearers of various mainstream political parties reveal that so far no party has finalised any grand gathering or public meeting on the two days because of the Eidul Azha holidays and lack of enthusiasm. The office-bearers, however, said the party leaders and workers would hold activities and ceremonies in their respective areas.

The government has already announced that the nation would observe the Independence Day as Kashmir Solidarity Day and that Aug 15 would be observed as a Black Day to denounce Indian move on Kashmir.

A spokesman for the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) said the party had not planned any public meeting or a major activity in the next few days due to Eid, but the government would definitely be arranging some official events to mark the country’s Independence Day. He said since the government had officially declared Aug 15, India’s independence day, as a Black Day to express solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, therefore, the ruling party might also plan some kind of activity on that day.

The opposition parties have also not so far announced any activities in connection with Aug 14 and 15. When contacted, secretary-general of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Farhatullah Khan Babar said the opposition’s Rahbar Committee had already decided to hold a multiparty conference (MPC) to fine-tune its strategy after the failure of its move to oust Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and also to discuss the situation arising out of the Indian government’s decision to annex Jammu and Kashmir.

Responding to a question if there was any possibility that the opposition might join hands with the government on the issue of Kashmir, Mr Babar ruled out any such possibility at least in the near future, saying that the government had pushed the opposition to the wall in the name of accountability.

Moreover, he said the opposition believed that the government had a dubious policy on Kashmir. The PPP leader alleged they had doubts that the Indian move to repeal Article 370 was pre-planned and that Prime Minister Imran Khan was aware of it.

The PPP leader said his party had already pointed out that the government had indulged in a sell-out and was now going to expose the government fully.

Possible joint programme

Mr Babar, however, said the opposition parties might devise a joint strategy and programme to jointly highlight the Kashmir issue as well as government failure in this regard, but it would be discussed in the MPC which would be convened soon after Eid.

The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has, however, announced it would celebrate the country’s Independence Day as Kashmir Solidarity Day with “zeal and fervour” and the main event would be held in Lahore where party president Shahbaz Sharif would hoist the national flag at a ceremony and “address the nation”.

Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) secretary-general Amirul Azeem told Dawn that his party had been organising events in various parts of the country to condemn the Indian move since Aug 5. He said his party had also chalked out a plan to observe Aug 15 as Black Day and activities would be held all over the country.

Responding to a question, he said there was a need for political unity on the Kashmir issue. However, he said, it was the responsibility of the ruling party to take the initiative. He said the JI had no objection in joining hands with any political party on the Kashmir issue.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2019