MUZAFFARABAD: In a path-breaking announcement in his key address at a public meeting in Kotli on the occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday announced that people of Kashmir would be at liberty to decide if they want to be part of Pakistan or as an independent nation even after deciding accession to Pakistan in a United Nations-sponsored referendum.
Accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur, Mr Khan made this announcement at the public meeting organised by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in a playground.
According to Press Information Office, the prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s stance that Kashmir dispute can only be resolved by implementing the plebiscite guaranteed in United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and said: “Once the plebiscite is implemented and Kashmiris join Pakistan, their relationship will be between Pakistan and Kashmiris.” He asked the people to focus on the struggle and to keep an eye on India’s behaviour that he said must be exposed.
Pakistan is so sincere to the Kashmir cause and the lives of Kashmir, the human angle being the foremost, that the Kashmiris’ aspirations are the most important thing for Pakistan, Mr Khan said. “This is the difference between the two states. Pakistan standing for the just right of Kashmiris and India acting as a rogue manner to oppress and illegally occupy Kashmiris.”
No change in Pakistan’s principled position on Jammu and Kashmir dispute that remains anchored in the relevant UNSC resolutions: FO
PM Khan said: “The purpose of my visit is to remind the world that you had made a pledge to the Kashmiris in 1948 that they will decide their future status of their own free accord. That pledge still remains unfulfilled, whereas during the same period, East Timor, an island of the Muslim state of Indonesia with Christian population in majority, was given the same right, leading to its freedom.” In the same breath, he added: “Secondly I want to tell the Kashmiris on both sides of the divide that after you will decide in favour of Pakistan [in a plebiscite], you will be given a right by Pakistan to choose whether you want to remain as a part of Pakistan or as an independent nation… This will be your right.”
PM Khan assured the people of India-held Kashmir that not only the Pakistani nation but also the entire Muslim world stood behind them.
“If the governments in Muslim states are not supporting you for any reason, I want to assure you today that their entire population stands behind you. Rather I will go a step further by saying that even the non-Muslims who believe in justice and human rights also realize that the Kashmiris should be given the right pledged to them by the United Nations,” he said.
He said Pakistan had full realization of what hellish condition the people of occupied Kashmir had gone through and had been going through.
“As a father I can understand when the news is received about the disappearance or martyrdom of a son, the kind of pain you face, the kind of tyrant you are confronting… Rest assured whatever and however energy I possess, I will utilise it to raise your voice at every world forum and media,” he said, recalling that he had thrice stressed upon the former US president Donald Trump to help resolve the Kashmir issue.
“Please be content. When I had declared that I am your ambassador, I will do my job as long as Kashmir gains freedom from Indian subjugation.”
He said when the PTI came into power, he tried his best to send a message of friendship to India and make it understand that its repressive measures would not get it Kashmir. Quoting examples of Vietnam, Algeria and Afghanistan, he said history was testament to the fact that even the mightiest army could not win a war in an area where the entire population rose against it.
“India has deployed 900,000 strong army in occupied Kashmir but it will fail to subdue the Kashmiris because every new child is born with a spirit to overthrow Indian subjugation.”
Even the small fraction of pro-India population has also changed its mind in the wake of Aug 5, 2019 move and support freedom, Mr Khan said. “Take my word, any politician in Kashmir who is pro-India cannot win an election in Kashmir,” he remarked.
The prime minister said in the beginning after coming to power he was unable to understand why India was not responding positively and holding dialogue. And when the Pulwama incident occurred and afterwards Indian jets “martyred our trees in Balakot”, he said he realised that they did not want peace and friendship but were using Pulwama and Balakot to win general elections.
Moreover, firebrand Indian television anchor Arnab Goswami’s transcripts showed that the attack was pre-planned in order to win elections, Mr Khan said, adding that the EU DisinfoLab report had further exposed India that had been using hundreds of fake sites and accounts to spread propaganda against Pakistan. “So we were doing friendship and you were cutting our roots but today what is coming in front of everyone? The agenda of RSS and their ideology,” he said, addressing the Indian leadership.
The premier said the RSS ideology had hurt India itself the most and it was the reason the country was so divided.
“Today India’s farmers are out protesting [and] the conditions of Muslims are in front of everyone,” he added, citing the citizenship law introduced by India deemed discriminatory towards Muslims.
“So Mr Modi, my biggest message for you is that the divisions you’re doing in India, this Hindutva ideology may win you elections but you are laying the foundation for India’s destruction,” the prime minister told his Indian counterpart.
“Today I am again suggesting India to resolve this issue [through meaningful dialogue] because there is no way out other than this…. But before that you will have to restore the pre-Aug 5, 2019 status of the occupied territory.”
“Agree to give the Kashmiris the right that was promised to them by the world community, and we are ready to talk to you,” he said, but made it clear that this offer should not be misconstrued as Pakistan’s weakness.
“It’s not because of any fear that we want friendship with you. It’s because we want to rid the Kashmiris of atrocities, we want them to achieve their democratic and human right to self-determination.”
He assured the people living along the Line of Control (LoC) and facing relentless ceasefire violations by the Indian army that the government would take full care of them.
Towards the end of his speech, the prime minister did not forget to mention his opponents seeking his ouster through an agitation movement. “I am ready to talk to people of all thoughts and ideologies but I will never reconcile with the dacoits or give them the NRO,” he said amid cheerful clapping.
“This is not possible for me to put small thieves behind bars and spare the dacoits.” He said those (opposition leaders) who had gathered in Muzaffarabad should bear in mind that if they wanted to stage a long march, they were welcome to do so. “I may help them [in this regard] but I will not give them NRO, come what may,” he reiterated.
No change in Pakistan’s position: FO
Meanwhile, Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri has said there is no change in Pakistan’s principled position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute that remains anchored in the relevant UNSC resolutions, adds APP.
He made it clear that PM Khan, in his Kotli address, reiterated Pakistan’s long-held position and support for the Kashmiris right to self-determination. The prime minister repeatedly spoke about the UNSC resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir and underscored the need for implementation of those resolutions, the spokesperson maintained.
“Pakistan remains firmly committed to the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices as enshrined in the relevant UNSC resolutions,” said Mr Chaudhri while responding to a media query.
Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2021