MUZAFFARABAD: Two former prime ministers of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Saturday called upon a joint action committee of the civil society activists to review their strike call for February 5 which is observed as “Kashmir Solidarity Day” across the country.

In their separate statements, Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, the regional president of Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP), and Raja Farooq Haider, central vice president of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), said the action committee should avoid causing any divide on this national event when people from all shades of life zealously express their unwavering support and solidarity with the struggling Kashmiris and instead choose some other day for its strike call.

On Sunday last, a meeting of the Jammu Kashmir Joint Action Committee, which represents the civil society with business community people in the forefront, was held in Kotli where “different aspects of the ongoing movement for the rights of people as well as negotiation process with an official ‘reconciliatory committee,’ comprising cabinet members,” were reviewed.

It was there the committee had declared that a complete shutter-down and wheel jam strike would be held across the state on February 5 against the “non-implementation of the agreement of December 19, 2023 by the official reconciliatory committee within the stipulated period, continuation of unjustified load-shedding during the negotiation process, non-determination of the production cost of electricity from Mangla Dam, non-issuance of the notifications of the agreed-upon points of the charter of demand and other delaying tactics of the government.”

Say joint action committee should avoid any activity that may distract attention from our basic cause of Kashmir

“… Each year on February 5, we give a joint message that we are all one on the issue of Kashmir and while standing shoulder to shoulder with each other and forming human chains we reiterate our resolve to stand firm like a lead wall with our struggling brethren under illegal Indian occupation,” said Mr Ilyas in his statement.

“As prime minister, I initiated special efforts to involve other countries in expression of solidarity on this day and it makes me feel great that to see that justice loving nations and people have begun to acknowledge the legitimacy and rightfulness of the heroic struggle by the oppressed Kashmiris. It’s why I stress upon the joint action committee to avoid any activity that may distract attention from our basic cause,” he said.

Mr Ilyas, who was removed from the prime minister’s office by the AJK high court on an alleged commission of contempt, pointed out that usually shutter-down and wheel jam strikes in the state were held to condemn India’s unparalleled crimes against humanity in occupied Jammu and Kashmir and it would be “extremely inappropriate to relate this day with the crises created by the incompetent and amateurish Anwarul Haq led [AJK] government.”

“It’s the right of every citizen to hold peaceful protests for his rights and there is no harm in carrying on the ongoing peaceful rights movement. But on February 5, the whole nation should be united on a single point agenda to draw international attention towards India’s perpetual denial of the internationally acknowledged right to self-determination of the Kashmiri nation,” he said.

“Such kind of activity, however pure and pro-people may be the intentions of the organisers, will be exploited by India and other enemies of Pakistan and Kashmiris to the core and therefore it must be avoided on February 5,” he added.

Echoing his views, Mr Haider said February 5 was not a governmental even but a public activity during which Pakistanis and unfettered Kashmiris across the globe rose above their political, religious, ethnic and cultural affiliations to send a message of unflinching support and solidarity with their valiant brethren in the occupied territory waging a heroic struggle for freedom in face of the worst ever repression by despotic Indian regimes.

Mr Haider said peaceful protest was every citizen’s right but “solidarity with the occupied Kashmiris should not be sabotaged under its cover.”

“We may have grievances against the governments of Pakistan, but we salute the people of Pakistan who have always put Kashmir first and did not allow any government to strike a deal on it,” he said.

The PML-N leader pointed out that Pakistan was the only nation that had not given up the support for the Kashmiris even in the most adverse situations and that’s why the Kashmiris on both sides of the divide considered it as a holy land.

Mr Haider was of the view that the role of the AJK based political parties had become almost negligible over the past few years which was subsequently denting the national interests.

“Whether one speaks or not, I consider it my responsibility, regardless of its repercussions to my political interests, to warn all stakeholders to think sensibly at this crucial juncture. India has turned occupied Kashmir into a large prison and is carrying out its nefarious agenda there in an organised manner. In such a situation, any intentional and unintentional attempt to sabotage expression of solidarity on this national day will be tantamount to strengthening India’s devilish designs.”

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2024

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