Firdous seeks nation's support to 'aggressively highlight' Kashmir issue ahead of Modi's UNGA address

Updated August 20, 2019

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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan addressing a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan addressing a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

The government's chief spokesperson, Firdous Ashiq Awan, on Tuesday sought the nation's support — especially the media — in highlighting the situation in occupied Kashmir ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address at the United Nations General Assembly on September 26.

The special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on information made the above plea during a press conference in Islamabad after a weekly meeting by the Federal Cabinet.

She said that Modi's address is slated for a day before Prime Minister Imran Khan's and urged the media to aggressively pursue the agenda of shedding light on the plight of Kashmiris between today and that day.

The prime minister will address the UNGA on September 27.

The special assistant further revealed that if India does not lift the curfew in occupied Kashmir, Pakistan plans on pursuing the matter "within the legal framework" on international forums.

She also discussed with the media the conversation between US President Donald Trump and PM Imran which took place on Monday.

"He [the prime minister] briefed Trump on how Modi is heading towards a genocide in the Valley and how under a constant curfew, humanity is being subjected to utter abasement and how Muslims are being held hostage, and how he aims to conduct an ethnic cleansing. And he briefed him [Trump] on how after landlocking them [Kashmiris], all their basic rights have been butchered," she said.

Awan said that the prime minister urged action on the part of international organisations and asked UN observers to be sent there, besides international media organisations being provided access "to bring forth the truth to the world".

She said that the prime minister has reminded the entire nation: the opposition, the government, all cabinet members that "Kashmir is our first line of defence and that Azad Kashmir is a gateway to occupied Kashmir".

"The way Modi is pushing them [Kashmiris] against the wall in order to fulfil his wishes, everyone is urged to keep raising their voices on this injustice and cruelty. All our voices, our actions, our efforts and energies should remain tied to this cause and we should present to the world the true face of India," said Awan.

"We need to pursue this more aggressively until the voices of those oppressed Kashmiris reach the relevant forum."

Awan, following the media briefing, confirmed to reporters that a principle approval had been granted by the cabinet to take the issue to the International Court of Justice.

She said that the case will be presented with a focus on the violation of human rights and genocide in occupied Kashmir.

"A panel of lawyers of international repute will be formed to pursue this case," she added.

Awan said that the prime minister lauded the efforts of the Pakistani diaspora in becoming the voice of Kashmiris all across the world and representing them "in the face of India's abominable actions".

Approvals granted by cabinet

The government spokesperson said that the cabinet had granted approval in principle to the Christian Marriage and Divorce Bill, 2019 "as per the religious norms of the Christian community".

Approval was also given for the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2019. Awan said that some things had previously been left unaddressed and having ironed those issues out, approval was granted to the Bill.

"Soical, cultural and religious values will be kept intact and within such a framework we will provide protection for victims of such violence," she said.

The cabinet also gave approval for a Pakistan-Turkey economic framework. Within this framework, "nine joint working groups have been formed", said Awan, adding that these groups will be headed by the Minister of Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar.

"These nine groups will collaborate on 71 points in which the most important is a Free Trade Agreement," she said.

Awan said that a transfer of techonology from Turkey to Pakistan will also take place under this framework.

"Also, ways to utilise our human resource — our technical staff and all those with professional skills — for capacity building will be devised."

She said that the two countries will also look for ways to "enhance production and supplement value addition across industries".

"Defence and close cooperation [between Turkey and Pakistan] is also a part of the TORs (Terms of Reference) of the working groups," she added.

She said that this will ensure that Pakistan is not only connected via the east through Gwadar but also with Western and Eastern Europe via Turkey with this framework.

Awan said that another important approval by the cabinet was that of a Rs5bn allocation to help low income families obtain interest-free loans.

The prime minister has directed that a detailed strategy and mechanism be devised so that equal disbursement of these loans across all the provinces is ensured.

Furthermore, a licensing authority is being estanlished under National Highway Authority (NHA) to issue internationally acceptable driving licenses.

Approval was also accorded for e-metres to be introduced for electricity and gas, said Awan.