PML-N, PPP both kept Kashmir issue on backburner: Afridi

Updated 20 Oct 2020

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Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Shehryar Khan Afridi addresses a press conference on Monday. — PID
Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Shehryar Khan Afridi addresses a press conference on Monday. — PID

ISLAMABAD: The chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, Shehryar Khan Afridi, on Monday said that the leaders of the main parties in the opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in their tenure in office had kept the Kashmir issue on the backburner. He said these leaders had used the chairmanship of Kashmir Committee as a ‘bargaining chip’ for Maulana Fazlur Rehman, currently the chief of the PDM.

“Despite the worst performance of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the Kashmir Committee was used as a political bribe and the Nawaz League and the Peoples Party kept the Kashmir [issue] in cold storage,” Mr Afridi told a press conference.

Sharing with the media the 10-year performance of his predecessor, Maulana Fazlur Rehman as chairman of the Kashmir Committee, he accused him of compromising on the Kashmir cause for vested interests.

Says Fazl compromised Kashmir issue for vested interest

Flanked by All Parties Hurriyat Conference leaders Nabila Irshad, Dr Wilayat Hussain and Dr Mujahid Gilani, Mr Afridi said that during the 10-year term as the Kashmir Committee chairman, Maulana Fazl spent Rs463 million out of allocated amount of Rs474m, but did literally nothing for the Kashmir cause.

“During the past 10 years, the committee met only 24 times and 62 press releases were issued under the Maulana. Hence, each press release cost Pakistani exchequer 7.6 million. Only one press release was issued in two months precisely,” he added.

He said the Maulana did not hold even a single meeting with foreign dignitaries to lobby on Kashmir issue in 10 years and when he was supposed to visit Europe in 2016 to raise voice on the Kashmir issue after Burhan Wani’s martyrdom, Ijazul Haq had to lead a 22-member parliamentary delegation as the Maulana did not join the delegation.

Similarly, he added, the Maulana was not available to present a memorandum to the UN representative in Pakistan on the first anniversary of Burhan Wani’s martyrdom in 2017, and again Ijazul Haq had to do the same with a delegation.

“Due to consistent reluctance of the Maulana to speak on Indian forces’ atrocities in India-held Jammu & Kashmir, a subcommittee headed by Ijazul Haq was formed to deal with Kashmir diplomacy. The Maulana, however, kept enjoying perks as the Kashmir Committee chairman,” he added.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2020