PDM slams govt’s ‘impotent’ response to Kashmir annexation

Published February 6, 2021
MUZAFFARABAD: PML-N vice president addressing a Kashmir Solidarity Day rally organised by the PDM.—Online
MUZAFFARABAD: PML-N vice president addressing a Kashmir Solidarity Day rally organised by the PDM.—Online

• Addressing public meeting in AJK, Maryam claims PML-N receiving phone calls from Imran’s ‘elders’
• Fazl says PM should be held accountable for ‘stabbing’ Kashmiris
• Bilawal vows to rid nation of ‘puppet selected regime’

MUZAFFARABAD: Apparen­tly held to express support and solidarity with the struggling people of India-occupied Kashmir, a big public meeting of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) however saw more criticism of Prime Minister Imran Khan here on Friday for what its leaders alleged “impotent” response of his government to New Delhi’s Aug 5, 2019 move on the disputed Himalayan region.

The PDM’s public meeting was held in K.H. Khurshid Stadium in the heart of the state capital in the afternoon with a sizeable number of participants, including women, representing mostly the three major constituents of the alliance — AJK’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F).

In their speeches, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz and PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari were unanimous in their allegations that “Mr Khan was imposed on Pakistan under a conspiracy and that the loss of Kashmir was because of the failed foreign policy, silence and cowardliness of Imran Khan-led government in Islamabad”.

Ms Nawaz began her speech with a “message of love and greeting” from her father and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. She said Imran Khan’s “fake” government had miserably failed to protect national interests and would always be remembered as being responsible for “defeat on Kashmir”.

She posed a volley of questions to PM Khan, asking him what he had to say to the Kashmiris when he had “lost their case, sold out their cause and thrown Kashmir into the lap of Mr Modi”.

She said Mr Khan had termed then US president Donald Trump’s mediation offer a “world cup-like victory” but become a lame duck after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Aug 5, 2019 move.

Eulogising her father, Ms Nawaz said only he had proved that he could give a befitting reply to the enemies of Pakistan as and where it was required.

She took exception to the registration of an FIR against AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider at a time when, she said, India was terrorising the Kashmiris and Mr Khan was supposed to raise voice in favour of them across the globe.

The PML-N vice president also talked about the Senate elections with particular reference to the government’s move for open balloting.

In a clear reference to the establishment, she said PML-N was receiving phone calls from the “elders” of Mr Khan to support the legislation on Senate elections. “Do you know what reply they have got from Nawaz Sharif? He has told them that even if we have to sacrifice our seats, we will not support this fake government,” she added.

However, in the same breath she gave an indication to favour open balloting. “There will be a show of hands and open balloting too, but after sending this government home,” she said.

Towards the end of her speech, when she made people chant a number of slogans against the government, some local PML-N leaders reminded her to speak about Kashmir. On this, she concluded: “Whatever the circumstances, we will stay with the Kashmiris till our last breath. Pakistan will not sit at ease without getting you freedom.”

PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had formed the government in Gilgit-Baltistan through rigging and now it wanted to replicate the same exercise in AJK. “Kashmiris are wise people. If the sitting lawmakers or former ticket holders from PML-N and PPP change loyalties and join PTI, they should reject such turncoats,” he said.

He said PM Khan had stabbed the Kashmiris for which he ought to be held accountable. Before coming into government, Mr Khan had suggested that Kashmir should be divided into three parts and had got this idea implemented in collusion with Donald Trump and Narendra Modi, the Maulana alleged.

“Till there was an elected government in Pakistan, Mr Modi could not dare revoke occupied Kashmir’s special status and make it an Indian territory… But this incompetent government has shown retreat at every forum, including the [United Nations] Security Council,” he added.

The PDM chief said that since PM Khan and his lobby had been mulling “division of Kashmir”, Mr Modi took this advantage and scrapped the disputed territory’s special status.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who reached at the venue a little late, was also harsh towards PM Khan who he addressed as “puppet and selected” throughout his speech. “Such an incompetent and unprofessional prime minister not only plunges every Pakistani into danger but also threatens the freedom of every Kashmiri,” the PPP leader said of Mr Khan.

Maintaining that a “democratically elected” prime minister of Pakistan could effectively respond to the fascist moves of Narendra Modi, he said that in order to get the Indian PM defeated, establishment of true democracy in Pakistan was a must.

The PPP chairman alleged that while Mr Khan had promised the Kashmiris that he would become their ambassador he had instead become an advocate of [Indian spy] Kulbhushan Jadhav. “…Mr Khan is bent upon giving NRO to Jadhav. For this purpose, an ordinance is promulgated in the dead of night without taking parliament on board,” he said.

“Similarly, our brave air force downed an Indian jet and made its pilot prisoner of war. But the cowardly selected prime minister sent him back after offering a cup of tea,” he added.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari was of the view that if the Kashmiris were allowed to decide their course of action on their own, they could gain their freedom themselves. Reiterating his party’s stance on plebiscite in Kashmir, he alleged that the PTI government was pursuing Gen Pervez Musharraf’s [four-point] formula on the dispute. “The selected government has sold out Kashmir, but we will not let his plan succeed,” he said, asking the people to chant slogans against the alleged deal.

“I want to send a message to the government and its facilitators to listen to the slogan of Kashmiris. Throughout history these brave people have struggled for their freedom and they will not allow any puppet ruler to strike a deal on it.”

The PPP leader also referred to a popular perception that AJK had a tradition of voting in favour of the same party that was in power in Islamabad, but claimed that the PTI government would be sent packing before the AJK polls, due middle of this year.

“We have decided to stage a long march on March 26. By the time you go to the polls, Imran Khan and his government will no longer be in office. You will then be at liberty to elect your true representatives who will address all of your issues.”

He said that though PM Khan would parrot being on the “same page” [with the army], in effect if any two were on the same page they were him and his Indian counterpart Modi.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistanis were facing “historic dearness, unemployment and poverty” under the PTI government which had necessitated its ouster. “Together, we will rid this nation of this puppet selected regime, protect your rights and get you freedom,” he added.

Earlier, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider also spoke, vowing that the Kashmiris would resist every attempt to change AJK’s status.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2021

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