Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s annexation of occupied Kashmir would eventually lead to its independence.
The prime minister was addressing a special session of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly as the nation observed Kashmir Solidarity Day on Wednesday.
The premier said he believed occupied Kashmir would achieve independence as a result of the action Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken in the region on August 5, 2019.
"If he had not taken that step, we could not have said anything to the world," the premier said, adding that prior to the events of August 2019, no one was paying attention to Indian atrocities in the valley.
"On that day Modi made a fatal mistake, one that he could not step back from," the prime minister said.
"Hopefully Kashmir will now move towards independence," Prime Minister Imran said. "Our job now is to inform the world about what is happening in the valley on all forums," he added.
"They [India] cannot continue in this manner any longer. They have detained eight million people in an open jail."
The prime minister warned that India's situation will continue to deteriorate with time.
"In desperation, Modi said that he will defeat Pakistan in 11 days. The head of a country, giving such a statement when both countries in question are nuclear powers, cannot be normal.
"His [Modi's] only aim is to please his Hindutva base. The last refuge of every scoundrel is patriotism. They hide behind nationalism and then make such claims," Imran said. "Worried people make such statements, and they are now worried."
He urged the world to not play into India's trap, predicting that they will either use terrorism as an excuse or conduct a false-flag operation to inflict more torture on the people of occupied Kashmir.
"They would have proceeded to do so had we not raised the issue in front of the whole world. They have stated that they wish to change the region's demography, from a Muslim-majority to a Muslim-minority.
"We should not give them any chance. This is a political, and a diplomatic fight as well as in the media. And for the first time since the 60s, international media is presenting Pakistan’s stance," he added.
Commenting on "Islamic terrorism", Imran said: "Religion and terrorism are not linked. Since 9/11, Muslims have been persecuted due to Islamic terrorism. Therefore, we have to be very careful about what their game plan is."
Imran acknowledged that the issue "drifted" after it was raised at the UN General Assembly, at a time when it was at its peak, due to the "storm that was headed to Islamabad" – an apparent reference to the Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led sit-ins against the government last year.
However, the issue has now entered the world's political arenas, Imran said. "We will inform them of what is going on in the occupied valley."
The premier ended his address by reiterating that Modi's actions will lead to freedom for occupied Kashmir.
US mediation will benefit India: AJK premier
Earlier, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider warned Prime Minister Imran against accepting United States' offer to mediate on the Kashmir dispute, saying that such a move would only benefit India.
During his address in the AJK Legislative assembly, Haider said that after August 5, 2019, today was the first time Pakistan had expressed solidarity with Azad Jammu and Kashmir and its people.
“As a Kashmiri I want to make a request to you. Begin national reconciliation in Pakistan. Raise yourself above everyone else and take everyone along," Haider said.
"You are the prime minister of the country. We respect you and have some expectations from you. Please end these fights on TV talk shows, this has really divided the country.”
Haider said the West had put Pakistan in "shackles" which "we need to remove". "This can only happen when there is national unity and consensus of opinion in the country," he added.
The AJK premier said that his government was cognisant of the challenges being faced by Pakistan and was thankful that, despite the difficulties, Islamabad continued to stand by the Kashmiris.
"I hope you didn't mind anything I said," the AJK premier said as he wrapped up his address.
"We are with you and will not let Pakistan’s flag come down in Kashmir."
Prime Minister Imran began his address by responding to the AJK premier's address, saying he was a democrat because the history of the world had proven that democracy was the best system.
He said that as far as "consensus-building" was concerned, he stood with the AJK premier but added that "reconciliation with the corrupt" was something he did not support.
"One thing I want to tell the AJK parliament is that don't lose hope," he said, adding: "Losing hope means you have lost faith in God."
"Indeed it is a very difficult time for the country. But I have no doubt the country will not only manage to find its way out of these difficult times but will eventually become a great nation."
The assembly session began with the AJK and Pakistan anthems. Legislative Assembly Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir welcomed Prime Minister Imran as well as the other government officials who were accompanying the premier.
Regional president of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Barrister Sultan Mahmood said that the Kashmir issue has been internationalised, adding that the premier had raised it at every forum.
Earlier, upon his arrival in Muzaffarabad, the prime minister was presented with a guard of honour.
Prime Minister Imran was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur and Chairman of Special Committee on Kashmir Syed Fakhar Imam.
Across Pakistan, today is being marked as a day of solidarity to express support for the people of Kashmir and their inalienable right to self-determination under the United Nations resolutions.
Earlier, in a message, the premier said the occasion is being observed to reaffirm support for Kashmiris who have been "subjected to an inhuman lockdown and communications blockade for six months now".