Pakistan speaks with one voice on Kashmir

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Shafaqna Pakistan: The nation observed ‘Kashmir Hour’ from noon to 12:30pm on Friday to express solidarity with the people of the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) suffering unprecedented atrocities perpetrated by the Indian armed forces.

The ‘Kashmir Hour’ was observed throughout the country, with the national anthems of Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) played in a show of solidarity with the oppressed Kashmiris. Both the anthems were aired on all the television and radio channels. The people and traffic stood still as the national anthems were played. The rally started with the recitation of the Holy Quran.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had requested all Pakistanis to come out on Friday to send a message of solidarity, was leading the rally outside the PM Secretariat. All chief ministers and parliamentarians had also gathered outside the respective CM Secretariat buildings. Addressing the rally, Imran Khan said, “The Kashmiris are going through a difficult phase. Approximately eight million Kashmiris for the last four weeks have been locked under curfew.” He added the the purpose of ‘Kashmir Hour’ was to send a message from Pakistan that until Kashmiris get their freedom Pakistanis would continue to stand by them. “We will stand by them till the last breath,” he said.

The prime minister further said it was important to understand the type of government in India which was oppressing people. “We need to understand the ideology of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). This was a party which was motivated by its hatred for Muslims. This party was inspired by Hitler’s Nazi party.”

“The entire world is watching what is happening in Kashmir. The world reaction would have been stronger if Kashmiris had not been Muslims,” he added. “Till Kashmir is not independent, I will continue to fight for their freedom at every forum,” premier Imran asserted. “I will raise the issue at the UN General Assembly. We saw the effect of Nazi Germany on the world and millions died in the world wars as a result of it,” the prime minister said. “If today the world does not standagainst Modi’s fascist government, it will not stop here,” he said. He added, “We know India wants to divert the world attention by carrying out a false flag operation like Balakot and will do something in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.”

Addressing the international community, Imran Khan said, “I want to clearly give a message that we will respond to any Indian action. Our armed forces are ready for anything. I keep telling the world and every international outlet that if they remain quiet about the Kashmir issue and the atrocities in the valley, the entire world will suffer because of that.” He added, “India didn’t let the media go into Srinagar, this should tell the entire world exactly what sort of cruelty is being perpetrated there. In the end, my heart is telling me that Narendra Modi, what he’s doing in IHK is his arrogance. He has played his last card. Kashmir will be free now. It’s time to teach India a lesson.”

Separately, President Arif Alvi while addressing a rally said if we all are united in our cause we could free Kashmir. “The government of Pakistan and people are standing with Kashmiris,” he said. “We will reply to Indian propaganda on every forum,” President Alvi said, adding they will also observe solidarity next week as well. Imran Khan said another campaign will be started soon with the message to lift the curfew from IHK Kashmir. He said during the campaign, important international figures and celebrities will be involved to raise the issue of human rights violations and tragedy in IHK at all the international forums.

Pakistan and AJK flags were distributed among the public. There were also public awareness messages by prominent figures about Kashmir mobilisation campaign on the print and electronic media on Friday. Furthermore, there was an engagement of the political leadership including opposition leaders to show solidarity with Kashmiris through maximum participation for a unified message to the international community. The parliamentarians also held rallies in their respective areas against Indian aggression in the occupied valley. Flags, banners and badges depicting Kashmir solidarity were distributed among the people, particularly youth and children, across the country.

The day was observed in a befitting manner through different activities which were organised by trade unions, corporations, chambers, civil society and people from different walks of life. On the direction of Imran Khan, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also organised a massive rally at the D-Chowk, Islamabad and the venue witnessed charged gathering of hundreds of party workers and people from different segments of the society.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan in his article for The New York Times wrote that when he was elected prime minister of Pakistan last August, one of his foremost priorities was to work for lasting and just peace in South Asia. “India and Pakistan, despite our difficult history, confront similar challenges of poverty, unemployment and climate change, especially the threat of melting glaciers and scarcity of water for hundreds of millions of our citizens. I wanted to normalise relations with India through trade and by settling the Kashmir dispute, the foremost impediment to the normalisation of relations between us,” he wrote. Imran Khan mentioned that on July 26, 2018, in his first televised address to Pakistan after winning the elections, he stated that Pakistan wanted peace with India and if it took one step forward, Pakistan would take two steps. “After that, a meeting between our two foreign ministers was arranged on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in September 2018, but India cancelled the meeting. That September I also wrote my first of three letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for dialogue and peace,” he wrote. Unfortunately, he said, all his efforts to start a dialogue for peace were rebuffed by India.

“Initially, we assumed that Modi’s increasingly hard-line positions and his rhetoric against Pakistan were aimed to whip up a nationalist frenzy among the Indian voters with an eye on the Indian elections in May,” he wrote. Imran Khan said that on Feb. 14, a few months before those elections, a young Kashmiri man carried out a suicide attack against Indian troops in IHK. The Indian government promptly blamed Pakistan. “We asked for evidence, but Mr Modi sent Indian Air Force fighter planes across the border to Pakistan. Our air force brought down an Indian plane and captured the pilot. We struck back to signal we could defend ourselves but chose not to strike a target that would cause loss of life. I made a conscious decision to show that Pakistan had no intent of aggravating the conflict between two nuclear-armed states. We returned the captured Indian pilot, with no preconditions,” he mentioned.

He said on Aug 5, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah announced that his government has decided to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants special status to IHK as thousands of newly deployed troops arrived and internet and phone services were cut in the restive Himalayan region where most people oppose Indian rule. He said that on May 23, after Modi’s re-election, he congratulated him and hoped both countries could work for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia. “In June, I sent another letter to Mr Modi offering dialogue to work toward peace. Again, India chose not to respond. And we found out that while I was making peace overtures, India had been lobbying to get Pakistan placed on the ‘blacklist’ at the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, which could lead to severe economic sanctions and push us toward bankruptcy,” he wrote.

“Evidently Mr Modi had mistaken our desire for peace in a nuclear neighbourhood as appeasement. We were not simply up against a hostile government. We were up against a ‘New India’, which is governed by leaders and a party that are the products of the Hindu supremacist mother ship, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the RSS,” he wrote. The prime minister wrote that the Indian prime minister and several ministers of his government continue to be members of the RSS, whose founding fathers expressed their admiration for Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. “Modi has written with great love and reverence about M S Golwalkar, the second supreme leader of the RSS, and has referred to Mr Golwakar as ‘Pujiniya Shri Guruji (Guru Worthy of Worship).’ Mr Modi’s guru wrote admiringly about the Final Solution in ‘We, Our Nationhood Defined’, his 1939 book: To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races — the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan for us to learn and profit by,” he wrote.

The premier wrote that he had hoped that being elected prime minister might lead Modi to cast aside his old ways as the chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, when he gained global notoriety for the 2002 pogrom against local Muslims on his watch and was denied a visa to travel to the United States under its International Religious Freedom Act — a list of visa denials that included associates of Slobodan Milosevic.

“Mr Modi’s first term as prime minister had been marked by lynching of Muslims, Christians and Dalits by extremist Hindu mobs. In Indian-Occupied Kashmir, we have witnessed increased state violence against defiant Kashmiris. Pellet-firing shotguns were introduced and aimed at the eyes of young Kashmiri protesters, blinding hundreds,” he wrote. The premier mentioned that on Aug 5, in its most brazen and egregious move, Modi’s government altered the status of IHK through the revocation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution. He wrote that the move is illegal under the constitution of India, but more importantly, it is a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir and the Shimla Agreement between Pakistan and India.

“And Mr Modi’s ‘New India’ chose to do this by imposing a military curfew in Kashmir, imprisoning its population in their homes and cutting off their phone, internet and television connections, rendering them without news of the world or their loved ones. The siege was followed by a purge: Thousands of Kashmiris have been arrested and thrown into prisons across India. A blood bath is feared in Kashmir when the curfew is lifted. Already, Kashmiris coming out in defiance of the curfew are being shot and killed,” he wrote.

He wrote that if the world does nothing to stop the Indian assault on Kashmir and its people, there will be consequences for the whole world as two nuclear-armed states get ever closer to a direct military confrontation.

“India’s defence minister has issued a not-so-veiled nuclear threat to Pakistan by saying that the future of India’s ‘no first use’ policy on nuclear weapons will ‘depend on circumstances’. Similar statements have been made by Indian leaders periodically. Pakistan has long viewed India’s ‘no first use’ claims with scepticism,” the prime minister wrote in his article. “With the nuclear shadow hovering over South Asia, we realise that Pakistan and India have to move out of a zero-sum mind-set to begin dialogue on Kashmir, various strategic matters and trade. On Kashmir, the dialogue must include all stakeholders, especially the Kashmiris. We have already prepared multiple options that can be worked on while honouring the right to self-determination the Kashmiris were promised by the Security Council resolutions and India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru,” he wrote.

Imran Khan wrote that through dialogue and negotiations, the stakeholders can arrive at a viable solution to end the decades of suffering of the Kashmiri people and move towards a stable and just peace in the region. He said dialogue can start only when India reverses its illegal annexation of Kashmir, ends the curfew and lockdown, and withdraws its troops to the barracks.