LAHORE: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider on Saturday called for practical steps to ensure freedom for the people of India-held Kashmir.

He regretted it had been 76 days to curfew by Indian army in the valley and nothing concrete had been done by the Pakistan government except seminars and speeches.

Mr Haider was addressing a Kashmir specific session at Asma Jahangir conference held in a local hotel. Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front spokesperson Rafiq Dar, Kashmiri journalist Tariq Naqash and British author Ms Victoria Schofield shared the stage with him.

The AJK premier said Indian Prime Minister Modi had been implementing his evil plan step by step and the pain Kashmiris had been suffering from could not be described in words.

He criticised the government in Islamabad for doing nothing except putting a demand that India lift the curfew from the IOK. “What will happen after curfew is lifted?” asked Mr Haider adding will the Kashmiris get freedom by mere lifting the curfew.

He said Pakistan needed to present the case of Kashmiris at international front if it really wanted to take any practical step to ensure exercise of the right to self-determination. He said the IOK was not a conflict between Pakistan and India as it was matter of freedom and Pakistan was on the side of Kashmiris.

He said Pakistan was required to change its policy on Kashmir in light of new ground realities. “We (Kashmiris) have nothing to lose. We will either perish or get freedom,” he added.

He feared Kashmir would not be the Kashmir [demographically] within the next 10 years if India was allowed to achieve its nefarious designs.

“Leave us alone if you cannot do anything practical. We will do it on our own,” said the AJK premier referring to the Pakistan government.

He lauded the struggle of Asma Jahangir for the freedom of Kashmir.

Ms Khar said Pakistan must not lose high moral ground it had been standing and associate international bodies on the Kashmir issue. She said Modi had been a mock to his own state, constitution and the people.

Speaking at a session about Afghanistan, former defence minister Khurram Dastagir said peace in Afghanistan guaranteed peace in Pakistan. “Pakistan is still doing its best to establish peace and end terrorism.”

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s leader Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Afghan women’s rights activist Fawzia Koofi and Afghan political analyst Omar Zakhilwal also spoke at the session.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019