PML-N President offers full support to gov't on Kashmir

LAHORE: PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif said that opposition offered its ‘full cooperation’ to the PTI government to give a befitting response to the Modi government on its decision to revoke the held-Kashmir’s special status but also warned Prime Minister Imran Khan that this gesture should not be called an effort (of the opposition) to secure NRO (deal).

In a significant development, PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz opposed her uncle’s (Shahbaz Sharif) offer to shake hands with Imran Khan on this issue, saying no support from the opposition should be offered to a government that was not only non-representative but had brought Pakistan to its knees in every possible way.

“Any support lent to the Imran Khan government will lead to more disasters and graver ones. All this government can do is to surrender and capitulate,” she demanded.

Ms Nawaz said: “This government is badly and desperately looking for support to cover up the blunders that it has committed which have had serious implications on Pakistan. Do not give them a bailout. They are the ones responsible for plunging Pakistan into this crisis. It will not end here. Opposition, beware.”

Maryam opposes move, asks PM to answer questions over commitments made with US, “was the mediation offer a trap Pakistan walked into?”

Her suggestion to her uncle is seen as divergent policy of the PML-N with opposition leader in the National Assembly seems to be in favour of re-conciliatory politics while Maryam Nawaz does not seem to be ready to let the “incompetent” PTI government go off the hook on any issue be it economic or Kashmir crisis.

Earlier, Ms Nawaz had also opposed Shahbaz Sharif’s offer to Imran Khan to sign a charter of economy. Subsequently, her view prevailed in the party.

Ms Nawaz also raised some questions regarding weaknesses of the PTI government with regard to handling the Kashmir issue in a series of tweets.

“You Mr. Khan failed to anticipate what was coming and you were either completely oblivious to the preparations the Indian government was undertaking or were a part of that. Tell us the truth,” she asked and added the premier was nowhere to be seen in times of crisis.

“At this crucial juncture the foreign minister (Shah Mahmood Qurershi ) has gone for Haj where he must be praying for the Kashmiris.”

“We, the people of Pakistan, must be told what commitments were sought by and given to the US by Imran Khan. Was the offer for mediation a trap that you walked into and gloated over, or you as usual had no clue to what was being planned by the enemy? Pakistan needs exceptional, undisputed and dynamic leadership that has the ability and statesmanship to respond to the aspirations of hundreds of millions of Pakistanis and Kashmiris. Unprecedented situation calls for extraordinary leadership,” she demanded and announced that her rally in Sargodha on Tuesday (today) would be dedicated to Kashmir.

“We shall not only express solidarity with our Kashmiri brethren but will highlight Indian government’s atrocities, human rights violations and dictatorial decree of revoking article 370 and reneging on all international commitments,” she said and asked “does anyone remember what Imran Khan offered India our nuclear programme during his US visit? Just bear that in mind. No one has ever gone to that extent.”

In the press conference, Shahbaz Sharif said the current Kashmir situation demanded that political and military leadership should be on the same page. “Opposition will hold a meeting on Tuesday (today) to discuss the situation arising after the India’s unilateral revoking of Kashmir’s status as a disputed territory. We offer our full support to the government on the Kashmir issue. At this stage a message should be given to the world and Kashmiris that we are united on the Kashmir issue. And we want to be on the same page (with the government) to express solidarity with the Kashmiris and save the country’s prestige. We do not want division among the political class at this crucial time. But let me tell Mr Imran Khan Niazi…do not call this opposition’s offer as an effort to secure NRO (like deal),” Shahbaz Sharif said.

Condemning abrogation of Article 370 by the BJP government, he said it was an open declaration of war against the United Nations and a test of the international community. He said Pakistan must immediately call an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and should engage all friendly countries like China, the UK, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others for consultation and a strong and decisive strategy.

“I appeal to President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li of China, Saudia Arabia’s King, and Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, the prince of United Arab Emirates and President Turkey Tayyip Erdogan to play a decisive role in stopping India’s brutal belligerence and oppression of the people of Kashmir and force India to reverse the recent steps taken by Narendra Modi’s government,” he said assured the Kashmiris that Pakistan and PML-N would go to every extent to safeguard their right to self-determination.

Shahbaz Sharif also questioned whether US President Donald Trump’s mediation offer on Kashmir was a “trap or an effort to meet personal agenda.” He said Mr Trump needed to prove through his actions that it was his sincere offer and not just a “bait to woo Pakistan in an effort to milk more favours from Islamabad for facilitation in the Afghanistan peace process or a campaign slogan for his upcoming US elections.”

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said: “Atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir continue unabated. Extremist Indian government’s intentions are clear. President must immediately summon joint session of Parliament in the wake of Indian aggression in IOK.” He said by abolishing Article 35-A and 370, which conferred special status on Jammu and Kashmir, India intended to alter the region’s entire demography. “This decision is an open war of Modi against Kashmiri Muslims,” he said.

PPP’s Parliamentary Leader in Senate Sherry Rehman said: “Pakistan will resist any attempt to oppress the Kashmiri people and impose any form of government that is against the wishes of the people of Kashmir.” She said it was embarrassing that Pakistan’s Prime Minister believed that Modi’s government was the only solution to the conflict of Kashmir.

“The so-called world’s biggest democracy has not only belittled but also mocked the 70-year struggle of Kashmiris. The deployment of 100,000 additional troops over the last one week and the house arrest of Kashmiris betray the oppressive and occupational nature of the Indian state. The Indian government’s consistent use of fake news and leaks to blame Pakistan for the evacuation of Indians from Kashmir also proves that the BJP government continues to peddle fake narrative of terrorism threats to support its crackdown against Kashmiris. Pakistan will not let the Indian state deprive Kashmiris of their right to self-determination and will strongly lodge their protest at every international forum available,” Sherry Rehman said. PPP senior leader Khursheed Shah and Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said revoking the independent status of held Kashmir was a move to ruin the peace of the subcontinent and cause tension between the two nuclear powers in the region. They said the international community had been silent regarding the tyranny of Indian military in Kashmir.

Mr Shah questioned PM Khan for not issuing a policy statement on this issue. He said the National Assembly speaker should issue production orders of all detained parliamentarians so that all parliamentarians should attend the joint session.