ISLAMABAD: The international community’s silence over Indian actions in occupied Kashmir could be because of its interests in India, but Kashmiris have clearly rejected Delhi’s last year move of annexing their homeland, which has been under illegal occupation for over seven decades.

This was stated by Foreign Mini­ster Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a video statement, recorded while travelling to the Chirikot sector on the Line of Control (LoC) along with Def­e­nce Minister Pervez Khattak and Spe­cial Assistant to the Prime Mini­ster on National Security Moeed You­suf, and later talking to locals there.

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The visit, Mr Qureshi said, was und­ertaken to express solidarity with the people of Azad Kashmir living along the LoC who regularly face firing by the Indian armed forces, because of which they have suffered both human and material losses.

Frequency of ceasefire violations by India along the LoC has registered a sharp increase since 2015. This year India has so far committed nearly 1,844 ceasefire violations with artillery fire, heavy-caliber mortars and automatic weapons, in which 14 people have been martyred and another 138 serious injured.

Mr Qureshi said the government and people of Pakistan salute the courage of the people living on LoC, who have resolutely stood their ground and have chosen not to leave the area. “Your commitment to your soil is exemplary,” he said.

Other countries, he said, may not be speaking up over India’s excesses in Kashmir and its illegal actions because of their expediencies and economic interests, but Kashmiris should be clear that they are on the right path.

“Kashmiris are increasingly getting alienated from India. Today there is no honourable Kashmiri, who would be supporting India’s action,” Mr Qureshi told people during the visit.

In his earlier video statement, the foreign minister said: “We want to assure the Kashmiris living near LoC that government, the armed forces, and people are standing firmly behind them.”

Mr Qureshi said he wanted to send a clear message to India as well that whatever they tried do [to suppress the voice of the people], the Kashmiris had rejected their Aug 5 action.

Pakistan government is planning to observe the first anniversary of annexation of Kashmir on Wednesday as ‘Yaum-i-Istehsal’ (Day of Exploitation). A number of activities have been planned for the day. The main event would be Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech to AJK Assembly in Muzaffarabad in which he would reaffirm Pakistan’s support for Kashmir cause.

Mr Qureshi said Kashmiris’ struggle for their right of self- determination would continue until they succeeded in getting their right from India, as a result of which Kashmir would be liberated.

He said India was trying to give a false impression that the situation was normal in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He said if the situation was normal, then why India didn’t unlock mosques there and why 900,000 troops were being kept there.

FM Qureshi also met Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider in Muzaffarabad and discussed the situation in Occupied Kashmir.

He renewed Pakistan’s commitment to continue highlighting the plight of the oppressed and defenseless Kashmiris at every world forum.

Erdogan calls Imran

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan received a phone call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, exchanged Eid greetings and discussed a range of important issues with him.

A press release issued by the PM Office’s media wing said that PM Khan congratulated President Erdogan on the reopening of Hagia Sophia for prayers and informed him that millions of Pakistanis watched it live on television.

The two leaders exchanged best wishes for the two countries and people on the auspicious occasion of Eidul Azha.

Recalling President Erdogan’s visit to Pakistan for sixth session of High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) in February 2020, PM Khan reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to further fortify bilateral cooperation in all areas.

The two leaders agreed to stay in close contact on all issues of common interest. They also discussed need for Pakistan and Turkey to jointly work for medicine development.

The Pakistan-Turkey strategic relationship is underpinned by unique mutual trust, understanding and close cooperation. Pakistan deeply appreciates Turkey’s steadfast support for the just cause of Kashmir, which President Erdogan reaffirmed during his address to the Joint Session of Parliament in February 2020, the press release added.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2020

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