MUZAFFARABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif addressed a public gathering here to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day, stressing that he had raised the Kashmir issue at every forum.
Nawaz began his speech by thanking his hosts and the people present at the venue. “I’ve asked Maryam to address you [participants],” he informed.
The three-time premier said he has never seen a bigger rally than this in the history of Kashmir. Nawaz added that today’s rally is three times bigger than the one he addressed at the same venue after winning the 2013 elections.
“No [court] decision can break the bond I have with people of Kashmir,” Nawaz asserted, referring to his disqualification as prime minister by the Supreme Court last year. “My heart beats equally for Pakistanis and Kashmiris,” he said later.
Addressing Kashmiris across the border in Indian occupied territory, Nawaz condemned the state brutality and said the “people of Pakistan stand with you”. He also prayed that the freedom struggle in Indian held Kashmir achieves victory soon.
Coming back to his disqualification, Nawaz said had he not been disqualified, the people of Kashmir would have had justice, jobs, education and other basic social services.
“They ruined my plans,” he said, and then chanted a slogan: “Respect the vote. Respect Pakistan.”
Nawaz also promised to turn Muzaffarabad into Lahore, vowing a continuous increase in AJK’s development budget.
“We will make a four-lane motorway from Muzaffarabad to Mirpur Dina,” adding that a similar project would be constructed from here to Mansehra.
“I have been disqualified from Pakistan, but ‘qualified’ for AJK,” he said, asking the AJK premier to utilise his services in the state.
‘Request the vote’, chants Maryam
Following Nawaz’s speech, Maryam addressed the rally and thanked the crowd for a rousing welcome.
Addressing Kashmiris on the other side of the LoC, she said the “wounds inflicted on you hurt us here,” adding that she also has Kashmiri blood in her veins.
Maryam hoped that one day they hold freedom celebrations in Srinagar.
Raja Farooq Haider also addressed the rally.
Earlier, on his arrival to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) capital, Nawaz held a meeting with members of the AJK Council, party leaders, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and others.
The venue and nearby areas were decorated with welcoming banners for the PML-N leaders.
Millions of Pakistan across the globe mark the day to express their support to the Kashmiris in the struggle for their inalienable right to self-determination under the United Nations (UN) resolution.
A one-minute silence was observed nationwide at 10am to pay homage to the sacrifices of the people of Kashmir and their struggle.
In their separate messages on Kashmir Solidarity Day, President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi have said that the dream of peace and prosperity in the region will remain elusive without resolving the Kashmir dispute.