Call to observe Kashmir annexation day

Updated 01 Aug 2020

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FOREIGN Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi addressing a press conference on Friday. — APP
FOREIGN Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi addressing a press conference on Friday. — APP

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday called for observing the first anniversary of annexation of Kashmir on August 5 as Yaum-i-Istehsal (Day of Exploitation) with full enthusiasm as he rolled out a range of activities planned by the government for the occasion.

Mr Qureshi was speaking at a press conference alongside Information Minister Shibli Faraz and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Moeed Yusuf.

“We need to jointly deliver a message to the Kashmiris that we will not fail them,” he said.

India, he said, tried to break the resolve of the Kashmiris through its oppressive tactics, but it failed to achieve its goal.

“My Kashmiri brothers and sisters we can feel your difficulty, we realise the oppression that you have endured. But, remember you are not alone. Every Pakistani is standing by your side and is raising voice for your cause,” the foreign minister said.

FM says prime minister will address AJK Assembly

The highlight of the annexation anniversary observance would be Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Muzaffarabad and his speech at the AJK Assembly in which he will reiterate solidarity with the people of Kashmir and reaffirm Pakistan’s support for their struggle for freedom from India.

He announced the renaming of Islamabad’s Kashmir Highway as Srinagar Highway and said Pakistan’s eyes were on Srinagar and the day was not far away when “we will offer prayers in the mosque of Srinagar with our Kashmiri brothers”.

A commemorative postal stamp bearing the picture of Sopore toddler sitting on the bullet-ridden body of his grandfather is being issued. The picture had sparked outrage when it got published in international media.

A visit of a parliamentary delegation to villages along the Line of Control that have been suffering from ceasefire violations by India was being planned, Mr Qureshi said.

He said the one-minute silence would be observed throughout the country on Aug 5 as silence often sent a powerful message. Solidarity walks are also being held across the country.

The foreign minister said diplomatic outreach was being intensified. Letters would be written to world leaders and Op-Eds would be published in international publications highlighting the plight of Kashmiris during the past year. A social media campaign would also be launched in parallel.

He urged Pakistani diplomats abroad to plan engagements in host countries including media interviews and appearances at think-tanks.

“I will be personally monitoring each ambassador’s performance. I need action not verbosity,” he stressed.

Mr Qureshi said he realised difficulties in organising street protests for Kashmiris in other countries because of Covid-19 pandemic and asked overseas Pakistanis to plan activities while observing local restrictions.

The foreign minister also sought to address criticism at home that the government’s strategy on Kashmir has been ineffective. He tried to reject this impression by recalling the communications and interactions with the international community, PM Khan’s speech at UNGA, his own nine letters to the Security Council, and the issue being thrice taken up at the UNSC.

“Through this activity our position has become part of the UN record. It will contribute to attainment of our goal,” he said, adding that the issue had been internationalised.

He said the government had clarity on how to proceed forward.

Information Minister Shibli Faraz said lack of determination in pursuing the issue in the past emboldened India to annex Kashmir. He said enthusiastic participation in the upcoming observance would convey to India that it would not be like before anymore.

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2020