‘Regional peace linked with resolution of Kashmir issue’

By Asim Hussain

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Nawabzada Iftikhar Ahmed Khan Babar on Friday said Pakistan would continue to support the Kashmir cause and no one could force the country to abandon its steadfast and principled stand.
Addressing a press conference here at the Press Information Department (PID), he said Pakistan by observing the Kashmir Solidarity would send a clear message to the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIoJK) that they were not alone in their struggle for the right to self-determination as the entire Pakistani nation stood by them in their turbulent and hard times.
Flanked by Member of the National Assembly Wajiha Qamar and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders, Nawabzada Iftikhar lauded the role of Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in highlighting the Kashmir issue the world over.
The incumbent government was making serious efforts to sensitize the international community about the issue as “we believe that peace in the region is aligned with the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute”, he added.
The Indian government, he said, was perturbed over exposing of its atrocities on the innocent Kashmiris by Foreign Minister Bilawal at the United Nations that its ruling party leader went afar by announcing a bounty for the foreign minister, which was a sheer contravention of diplomatic norms.
About the Pakistan Peoples Party’s commitment to the Kashmiris cause, he said it was one of the core items of the party’s manifesto and that was why PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto had been working hard to highlight the issue at the international fora.

The minister said India was resorting to unprecedented atrocities and brutalities in the IIoJK, by killing the innocent Kashmiris under the guise of search operations.

He was critical of the Indian government’s abrupt and unilateral act of August 5, 2019, of abrogating of articles 370 and 35-A in a bid to change the internationally recognized disputed status of the occupied state and its demography.
Under the pretext of new laws, the people of Jaamu & Kashmir were being made strangers in their own land, he added.

Besides the issuance of some 4.4 million domiciles to the non-Kashmiri people, the constituencies were demarcated in a way to enhance of Hindus in the parliament, he said.

Nawabzada Iftikhar said Pakistan had always highlighted Kashmir issue at international forums as all the past governments irrespective of political affiliations were on the same page. However, the last Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government’s ineffective foreign policy adversely affected the Kashmir cause due to its strained relations with other countries.

On the other hand, the present government took a matured stance the issue and was striving to mend ties with the world community, besides raising the ongoing Indian atrocities on the innocent Kashmiris on an effective manner, he added.

The minister urged the people of Pakistan, particularly the youth, to play their due role and use the digital platforms to highlight Kashmir issue.

He said it was an honour for his family that his late father Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, who was the chairman of Parliamentary Kashmir Committee at that time, had played a role to approve February 5 as the Kashmir Solidarity Day.

He said his father had traveled to various countries and highlighted the Kashmir issues at various national and international forums. He particularly mentioned Nawazada Nasrullah’s participation in the OIC Conference at Casablanca where the resolution on the Kashmir issue was adopted.

He said the Federal Government along with the provincial governments, including the Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, had planned different programmes on the Day (Feb 5) to express solidarity with people of Kashmir.

Speaking on the occasion, MNA Wajiha Qamar said the people of IIoJK loved Pakistan to the core of their hearts as they felt an honour to bury their deceased wrapped in Pakistani flags.

Terming dialogue the only way to resolve the Kashmir issue, she said the Kashmiris had been rendering sacrifices for decades and it was incumbent upon the international community to help them get freedom as pledged in the UN resolutions.

Senior APHC leader Ghulam Muhammad Safi said the people of Paksitan always stood shoulder to shoulder with the Kashmiri brethren and the observance of Solidarity Day was its manifestation.

He said the first voice that “Hum Pakistani Hain aur Pakistan Hamara Hai” was raised from the IIoJK as the people of occupied state yearned for being a part of Pakistan and had been rendering sacrifices for that purpose. India could never suppress the voice of Kashimiri people through force.

He appreciated the efforts of the people and the Government of Pakistan for highlighting the Kashmir issue.

Hurriyat leader Mehmood Ahmed Sagar said the Pakistani people and the government always supported the cause of Kashmir and stressed the need to highlight the issue more vigorously across the world.

Answering a question, Nawabzada Iftikhar said Kashmir was the only unresolved agenda of the United Nations Security Council lingering for decades, and it was time to go for its settlement as per the aspirations of Kashmiris.