Government not afraid of JUI-F march but its timing is wrong, says Qureshi

Updated 10 Oct 2019

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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. — Photo courtesy of SMQ facebook page
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. — Photo courtesy of SMQ facebook page

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday said that the government was "absolutely not afraid" of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl's (JUI-F) upcoming 'Azaadi March'.

Talking to reporters in his hometown of Multan, the minister said: "It is their (JUI-F) democratic right but I had said earlier and I repeat that the timing is wrong, the date is not suitable."

"October 27 is the cursed and black day when India occupied Kashmir. It is the day when Indian forces invaded Kashmir, so the day is observed as a Black Day every year," he said.

Read more: 'Will continue to urge India to lift curfew, release all prisoners,' say US senators after visit to AJK

Qureshi added: "The sentiments of the Kashmiri people will be hurt if the JUI-F links the day to domestic politics.

"The nation is not liking their decision for October 27," he said, adding that in his opinion, there is no need for this protest because the international focus is already on Kashmir.

The conduct of opposition parties on the issue of Kashmir is their political need, the minister said.

Kashmir diplomacy

Further discussing the Kashmir issue, he said: "I don't think that India is in a position to allow anyone to visit [occupied] Kashmir, where they have imposed a curfew, where basic rights are suspended.

"US Senator Chris Van Hollen told me that he wanted to visit [occupied] Kashmir but he was denied permission," he said, questioning why he was denied entry if everything was okay in Kashmir as per the Indian government's claim.

According to the minister, the senator also expressed his desire to visit Azad Jammu and Kashmir and he was facilitated in this regard. Qureshi made it clear that if anyone, particularly from the United Kingdom parliament or the European Union, wishes to visit AJK, he or she will be facilitated.

He expressed his disappointment over the conduct of the Indian judiciary and the media, which he said are apparently under sheer pressure of Hindu extremists.

FATF

The minister while responding to a question said, "Pakistan had briefed the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Bangkok about its viewpoint and explained the measures taken by Islamabad to the FATF Asia-Pacific Group.

"I do believe that Pakistan — to a considerable extent — has satisfied the friends that we are serious against money laundering and that we have taken solid steps to keep checks on money laundering, and the incumbent government has taken more steps in one year to keep checks on terror financing than all the steps taken during the last one decade."

He added that despite Indian efforts to push Pakistan into the blacklist of the FATF, Pakistan's viewpoint and efforts will be recognised in the FATF session in Paris.

CPEC

Talking about the concerns expressed by the opposition over the pace of projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, he said that although the opposition often expresses reservations over the issue, there is nothing to worry about.

"The opposition unnecessarily takes the issue up; China is satisfied, Pakistan is satisfied. We have stepped up to the next phase [of CPEC]," he told reporters.