MUZAFFARABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday warned that continued repression by Indian troops would push not only Kashmiris but also Muslims in India and other parts of the world into extremism.
“First I want to tell India that the atrocities your army is committing in [occupied] Kashmir will give rise to extremism. The people who are facing your tyranny will fight it by all means,” he said in his address to a big gathering at K.H. Khurshid Mini Stadium in the heart of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) capital.
The participants, including women and students, vociferously chanted pro-freedom and anti-India slogans throughout the rally. Many of them were holding AJK flags.
“What India is doing in Kashmir will draw a strong reaction. Not only from the Kashmiris, but also from Indian Muslims as well as Muslims across the world,” said the prime minister.
Recounting the plight of Indian Muslims, such as lynching by cow vigilantes, he asked whether Indian premier Narendra Modi was giving a message to them that there was no room and no rights for them in India and that they should live there like second-class citizens or animals.
“Are you telling them you can convert the majority in Kashmir into minority through 900,000 soldiers and kill and blind children and the elderly? When you say that India is just for the Hindus, you push 220 million Indian Muslims to extremism,” Mr Khan said, adding that marginalising people led to radicalising them.
Imran vows to raise issue at UN General Assembly
He warned that 1.25 billion Muslims were looking at Kashmir and they would also be driven towards extremism and take up guns if the world continued to behave as a silent spectator. He recalled that a 20-year-old Kashmiri boy had blown himself up in an Indian army convoy because he had been humiliated and tortured by Indian troops, but India had blamed Pakistan for the attack.
Recalling the Balakot bombing by Indian jets and shooting down of an Indian plane the following day, the prime minister said Pakistan had returned the Indian pilot because it wanted to resolve issues through dialogue and not war. “But Narendra Modi commented that we have returned him [pilot] out of fear. Listen Mr Modi, the believers do not fear death; we did not return him out of fear but because of our quest for peace.”
The prime minister said he had decided to become an ambassador of Kashmiris in the world because of being a Pakistani, a Muslim and a human being. “The issue of Kashmir is a humanitarian problem today,” he said, adding that India’s 900,000-strong army contingent had locked down every Kashmiri for the past 40 days.
“No brave man can ever resort to the cruelties that Narendra Modi and his extremist RSS are perpetrating on the Kashmiris. Such atrocities can be committed by those who are devoid of humanity,” he said. However, whatever the magnitude of atrocities, Mr Modi would not succeed in Kashmir because the Kashmiri people were not scared of death anymore, he added.
The prime minister recalled that Mr Modi had been a member since childhood of the RSS — an organisation filled with hatred against Muslims. “As an ambassador of the Kashmiris I will inform the whole world about the reality of the RSS which imitates Hitler’s Nazi party and wants ethnic cleansing of Muslims,” he added.
He said India’s moderate, enlightened and educated class was also worried because India was going to become what neither [Mahatama] Gandhi not [Jawaharlal] Nehru wanted it to be.
The prime minister said he was pleased to note that Kashmir had been internationalised and the United Nations Security Council had held a meeting on it after 50 years.
In the same context, he listed positive developments at the UN Human Rights Commission, European and British parliaments and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. “Next week, I am going to the UN General Assembly and I will not disappoint the Kashmiris. Hardly anyone would have stood for the Kashmiris [in the past] the way I will stand for them,” he said.
“I know India will say that ‘terrorists’ are coming from Pakistan so as to divert the world’s attention from the situation in held Kashmir. But we will not let it happen,” he said, reiterating that Pakistan would respond to “every brick [from India] with a stone”.
“Once a war broke out, this nation will fight you till the last breath,” he said, calling upon the international community to stop “Indian Hitler” and force him to lift curfew and grant right to self-determination to the Kashmiris as pledged to them by the UN in 1948.
The prime minister also made it clear that the choice of Kashmiris regarding their future would reign supreme. “Whatever the people of Kashmir want is acceptable to us. This is their right to take a decision [about their fate]. We will stand by them.”
Towards the end of his speech, Mr Khan told the Kashmiri youth that he knew many of them wanted to stage a march on the LoC out of passion and commitment. “But don’t go until I tell you. First let me go to the United Nations and fight Kashmir’s case. I will tell the world if the Kashmir issue is not addressed, its [adverse] impact will go across the world,” he said.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi drew comparison between the liberated and occupied parts of Kashmir and challenged Mr Modi to hold a rally in Srinagar like the one in Muzaffarabad and address the people there.
In his speech, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider said the people on his side wanted to trample down the LoC. He urged the foreign minister “not to get entangled in the trap of bilateral dialogue because it sidesteps the issue of Kashmiris”. Mr Haider said the entire political leadership in AJK was on the same page regarding occupied Kashmir and stood by Pakistan.
Prominent among those who accompanied the prime minister were Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Kashmir Affairs Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, Special Assistant to the PM on Information Dr Firdaus Ashiq Awan and parliamentary Kashmir committee chairman Syed Fakhar Imam.
Former AJK premiers Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan and Barrister Sultan Mahmood were also sharing the stage. Several celebrities, including Javaid Shaikh, Shehzad Roy, Faakhir Mehmood, Sahir Ali Bagga, Humayun Saeed and former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi were also in attendance.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2019