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Qureshi, Bilawal spend Eidul Azha in AJK to show solidarity with Kashmiri people

Updated August 12, 2019

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Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Shah Mahmood Qurehsi offer Eid prayers in Muzaffarabad. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Shah Mahmood Qurehsi offer Eid prayers in Muzaffarabad. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari arrived separately in Azad Jammu and Kashmir's (AJK) capital Muzaffarabad on Sunday night to celebrate Eidul Azha and show solidarity with the Kashmiri people.

They offered Eid prayers alongside AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider in Muzaffarabad on Monday and will spend the festival in the region.

Later in a rally, Qureshi said he had come to Muzaffarabad to "congratulate" the Kashmiris because he had been "successful in securing the power of attorney" of China.

"They [Chinese government] have told me to tell Prime Minister Imran Khan that China will stand with him when he presents Kashmir's case before the United Nations," he told cheering supporters. Qureshi paid tribute to those soldiers who were martyred while defending the region and those who were protecting the Line of Control (LoC) even on the occasion of Eid. He also assured Kashmiri people of Pakistan's support.

He urged political parties to come together on the Kashmir issue, saying that Pakistan must have a united stance on the matter.

"We have our differences [...] But there is no difference on the issue of Kashmir. If there was any difference, a joint resolution would not have been passed."

The foreign minister said that India had always shirked away from solving the Kashmir dispute bilaterally. After 9/11, Qureshi said, India had "cleverly tried to portray Kahsmiris' struggle for right to self-determination as terrorism".

Earlier, Bilawal had criticised the government for its response to Indian government's decision to strip occupied Kashmir of its special status. In a conversation with reporters, he demanded the government to "show leadership". He said that the PPP will play its role but at the moment, Kashmiris were "looking up at the government".

Read: Govt resolves to take up 'annexation' of Kashmir on international forums, fight BJP's 'racist ideology'

"Government's job is to show leadership and stand by its people in tough times," he said.

"This is an attack on national solidarity and the Kashmir cause. [The government] is giving us [the opposition] the message that 'your support is not required'," he added.

Earlier today, Qureshi told reporters that the Kashmir dispute was "above politics and [personal] interests". He is expected to visit a Kashmiri refugees' camp today and will address a joint press conference with AJK prime minister.

The foreign minister said yesterday that Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Muzaffarabad on Aug 14 and address the AJK Legislative Assembly. Qureshi also offered Eid felicitations to the Kashmiri people on Prime Minister Imran's behalf.

The visits are meant to show solidarity with AJK residents, who have the target of violence by Indian forces from across the Line of Control (LoC). Recently Indian forces, in violation of international laws, resorted to using cluster munitions that killed two civilians, including a child and injured 11 others.

The leaders also mean to show support for Kashmiri people in occupied Kashmir who are facing an indefinite blackout imposed by the Indian government. Last week, New Delhi stripped occupied Kashmir of its special status by repealing Article 370 of the constitution, enabling citizens from different parts of India to buy property and start businesses in the occupied region. An indefinite curfew has been imposed in Indian-occupied Kashmir and Kashmiris leaders have been placed under house arrest to discourage demonstrations.

Pakistan and AJK leadership has expressed concern that the move would incite violence in occupied Kashmir that might "spill over" in this part of the Line of Control.

Islamabad has strongly protested against the revoking of Article 370 and has suspended diplomatic ties with India.