Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday tacitly rejected PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz's recent claim that the government was planning to make Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) a new province of Pakistan, saying he had "no idea where this allegation came from".
Maryam, in her speech as part of PML-N's election campaign in AJK on July 18, had levelled the said allegation at the prime minister, insisting that “a decision [to turn AJK into a province] has already been taken.”
Addressing a rally in Tarar Khal, AJK today, the prime minister appeared bemused at Maryam's statement, as he detailed how he actually plans on handling the Kashmir situation.
He reminded his audience that "the United Nations had passed a resolution in 1948, granting the right to the people of Kashmir to decide their future."
The premier said he was "certain that the people of occupied Kashmir would vote for Pakistan" in that referendum, adding that the PTI government would then hold a second referendum to let the Kashmiris decide whether they wanted to stay with Pakistan or prefer independence.
Responding to PML-N's allegations of election rigging, the prime minister questioned how his party could rig the upcoming polls when the PML-N was still in power in AJK and even the election commission officials were appointed during the PML-N's government.
The premier said his party had been asking the opposition for a year to come to discuss electronic voting machines. “This technology helps you get result of polls in no time and there will not be any need of manual counting of votes and moving of the polling bags from one place to another, which is a tiring exercise," he said.
“But the opposition is not willing to listen to us,” he rued.
The prime minister said his party made “major changes” in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by alleviating poverty and working on human development, which he said was also acknowledged by the UNDP in its 2018 report.
He accused his political rivals of keeping their mum on the Kashmir issue over the past decade. “India was attacking Kashmir children with pellet guns and Modi was being invited in a wedding here,” the premier said in reference to Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan and Nawaz Sharif's residence in 2015.
He alleged that Sharif avoided meeting Hurriyat leaders in order to appease Modi, “while Zardari was too busy counting notes”.
PM Khan also paid tribute to incarcerated Kashmiri leaders Ali Gelani and Yasin Malik for their courage, saying he was sure a day will come when the Kashmiri people would take a decision about their future.
It is pertinent to mention here that elections for Legislative Assembly in AJK are scheduled to be held on Sunday (July 25), which is behind the recent visits to the region by political heavyweights. Today marks the final day of canvassing allowed by the election commission.