Political bickering mars NA debate on Kashmir

Updated February 04, 2020

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Most speakers stress need for taking ‘practical’ steps to help oppressed Kashmiris. — AFP/File
Most speakers stress need for taking ‘practical’ steps to help oppressed Kashmiris. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The treasury and opposition members were unanimous in condemning India for committing atrocities in held Kashmir and expressing solidarity with Kashmiris during a debate in the National Assembly on Monday, but also continued political bickering, accusing each other of doing little for the Kashmir cause.

Most of the speakers stressed the need for taking practical steps to help the oppressed Kashmiris, saying mere speeches and resolutions would serve no purpose.

Members of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) urged the government to declare Jihad against India and Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali even suggested a date for it, stating that Prime Minister Imran Khan should officially announce that Pakistan would start a war with India after Feb 10.

He was of the view that mere announcement would force the whole international community to intervene and get the issue resolved.

After Maulana Chitrali, a couple of other lawmakers also opined that war was the only option available with nuclear-powered Pakistan to liberate the people of Kashmir and to complete the “unfinished plan” of the subcontinent’s partition.

Most speakers stress need for taking ‘practical’ steps to help oppressed Kashmiris

“When will we do Jihad? Announce Jihad. Tell India that Pakistani forces will attack it in a week and 220 million people will be behind the country’s armed forces,” said Maulana Chitrali, who had taken the floor soon after the speech of Kashmir Affairs Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, who had alleged that the JUI-F leadership by staging a sit-in in Islamabad in October had damaged the Kashmir cause.

Mr Gandapur stated that the Kashmir issue had been put on the back burner by the previous governments but the present government effectively highlighted it at international forums.

The assembly proceedings were also witnessed by AJK President Masood Khan, Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman, Speaker of AJK Legislative Assembly Shah Ghulam Qadir and Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon.

Earlier, Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Fakhar Imam opened up the debate which would also continue on Tuesday when the assembly is expected to pass a resolution.

Mr Imam, however, only narrated the historical background of the Kashmir issue, inviting the wrath of parliamentary leader of the main opposition Khawaja Asif, who said that they were expecting that the head of the Kashmir committee would apprise them about the steps taken by Pakistan in one or two years for the people of Kashmir.

Mr Asif, who had served as the foreign minister in the previous PML-N government, said India had turned Kashmir into the world’s biggest prison. The PML-N leader said Pakistan had formidable armed forces to defend the country, but regretted that the country had had faced “utter and complete diplomatic failure” on the Kashmir issue.

Mr Asif specifically lashed out at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), saying that except for three or four Muslim countries, no one spoke in support of the Kashmiri people.

“The OIC is a dead organisation,” he declared, adding that these Muslim countries could not defend themselves how they would talk about Kashmir.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf called for enforcing “diplomatic emergency”, proposing that parliamentarians should be sent to world capitals to highlight the Kashmir issue. He said that Kashmir had become a flashpoint and the international community should take notice of the grave situation.

Another PPP MNA Nawab Yousuf Talpur said they needed “revolution” and mot resolution to liberate Kashmir from clutches of India.

Salahuddin Ayubi of the JUI-F said that Kashmir was a humanitarian issue and the world should raise its voice for the fundamental rights of Kashmiris. He also supported Maulana Chitrali’s call for launching Jihad by the state.

More than three-hour-long proceedings of the day ended with an emotional speech by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan.

The minister said a well-thought plan was needed to get back Jammu and Kashmir from India.

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2020