UMERKOT: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi addressing members of the Hindu community at Shiv Temple here on Saturday said the gathering of non-Muslims in solidarity with their Kashmiri brethren drew a stark contrast with the dystopian vision of the Modi government.
“This public gathering is not political in nature but it has given a clear message to the fascist Modi government that Hindus and other non-Muslims of Pakistan express solidarity with the Kashmiris,” Mr Qureshi said while rejecting the media reports that Pakistan was trying to negotiate with India.
No amount of oppression in India-held Kashmir could suppress the voice of Kashmiris who had been living under curfew for several weeks, he said, adding that India had tried in vain to prevent the European Union from accepting Pakistan’s request for having a discussion on the Kashmir issue on Sept 2.
The following day people would gather in large numbers at London’s Hyde Park to meet Indian High Commission, rights activists and British parliamentarians on the Kashmir issue, he said, adding that he would soon go to Geneva to present the case of Kashmir there.
Says Hindus and other non-Muslims in Pakistan stand united to foil Modi’s evil designs
And the world would watch when Prime Minister Imran Khan would present the case of Kashmir at the annual meeting of United Nations on Sept 27, he said.
FM Qureshi told the people of Umerkot that he had come to the district bordering India on the directive of the premier who could not visit Sindh due to his pressing engagements in Islamabad.
The Umerkot and Tharparkar districts of Sindh have Hindu-majority population living close to the Indian border.
“The gathering has conveyed a strong message to Modi and Jai Shankar that you guys can’t stand before the Kashmiri people, but here Pakistan foreign minister has been standing with Hindus,” he said.
He said the Indian government had stopped Kashmiris from offering prayers, but in Pakistan all non-Muslims were free to go to their worship places. “You have deserted mosques there, but temples are well respected here [in Pakistan].”
He said he had come to the district with a message of humanity, brotherhood and interfaith harmony.
Curfew has been imposed in India-held Kashmir for the past 26 days, with no access to medicines, food and other essential commodities. “Even elected representatives of India have not been allowed to enter Kashmir,” because Modi wanted to cover up the gross violations of human rights in the held valley.
“Religious freedom in Pakistan is protected by the Constitution but the Kashmiris of the held valley have been deprived of this right by the Indian government,” he said, adding that the philosophy of Nehru and Gandhi was buried and replaced by the RSS in India.
FM Qureshi said the Indian government had also banned international media and human rights bodies intending to visit the held valley, but Pakistan invited them to visit Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
He said Pakistan had been protecting the rights of Hindus and other non-Muslim communities and the practice would continue, as not just the government but the Muslim population of the country too fully realised their responsibilities.
He condemned the Indian media propaganda on the basis of a BBC story that Pakistan was trying to negotiate. “No not at all,” he said, adding that every brick would be responded to with stones.
In an interview with BBC, Mr Qureshi said Pakistan had never objected to holding talks on Kashmir but with curfew in India-held Kashmir, people struggling for their lives, rampant incidents of gang-rape and detention, he did not see India interested in dialogue. He was quoted as saying that talks could take place if India “lifts the crippling curfew that has been imposed in occupied Kashmir for nearly four weeks, restores the rights of local residents, releases the entire imprisoned Kashmiri leadership and allows him (Qureshi) to meet with the Kashmiri leadership.”
Addressing the gathering in Umerkot, the foreign minister said the nation was united and would foil evil designs and ulterior motives of the Modi government. He suggested the Indian prime minister to listen to Nehru’s speeches, which were part of record at Lok Sabha. He reminded him that India had promised to protect the right of self-determination of the Kashmiris.
“The Kashmiris are oppressed but not weak,” he said.
“Today standing close the Indian border, I along with the Hindu community warn the Modi government that the entire nation is united and can protect the country’s stability and sovereignty,” he said, announcing that a signature campaign against the curfew would be launched soon.
Paying tribute to the mothers and daughters who had been lost their sons and brothers, FM Qureshi said when the nation stood united against bullets, guns fell silent. “When Berlin wall can be demolished, why this wall of cruelty cannot be demolished,” he remarked.
Jai Parkash Lohana said eight million Kashmiris had been oppressed by the Indian government.
PTI lawmaker Lalchand Malhi said this was a unique public gathering hosted by Hindu community to respond to the Modi government actions. “We Hindus of Pakistan stand with Kashmiris, because it’s a message of Shiv to stand with oppressed people. The changes in [Indian] constitution are deemed to attack the integral part of Pakistan,” he said, adding that they took pride in the fact that their elders had not migrated to India.
Sindh PTI president Haleem Adil Shaikh said the Modi-like mindset had always been involved in genocide of Sikhs and Muslims of India. He said in 1984 more than 3,000 soldiers were sent to Khalistan and operation blue star was initiated, where 30,000 Sikhs were killed. In 1990, more than 90,000 Sikhs were killed. Besides, 10,000 Muslims were killed in Assam, when they raised their voice for rights. During his rule in Gujarat, Modi got 2,500 Muslims killed, as even kids were made to drink petrol and burnt alive, he said.
Former chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim also spoke.
Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2019