LAHORE: Pakistan said on Friday that it would observe July 19 (Tuesday) as a black day to protest the killings in Indian-held Kashmir, drawing an angry reaction from India which again accused Islamabad of interfering in New Delhi’s internal affairs and backing terrorism.
The cabinet, which met for the first time after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif underwent an open heart surgery, also decided to convene a joint session of parliament on the Kashmir situation.
The prime minister proposed the observance of the black day while chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet at the Governor’s House, which discussed the situation in occupied Kashmir, which has been roiled by protests over the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani last week.
During the cabinet meeting, Nawaz reiterated Pakistan’s stated position of extending moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris for their right to self-determination.
Calling on the UN to fulfil its incomplete agenda on Kashmir, Nawaz said he and the entire Pakistan nation steadfastly stood by Kashmiris against the Indian oppression. Describing the freedom movement as terrorism amounted to sheer dishonesty by India, he added.
The cabinet asked India to hold dialogue with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue and to include Kashmiri leaders in the process. The prime minister directed the government departments to highlight the atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir at international forums.
He was referring to the death of people in Held Kashmir in clashes with security forces after Wani's killing. “Unarmed Kashmiris cannot be deterred from their rightful struggle for self determination at gunpoint” and that right to self determination was justified by the UN resolutions, Nawaz said, as he declared Wani as a martyr of independence movement.
Nawaz said the Kashmiris were fighting for their freedom and emphasised that Indian hostility would further strengthen their resolve, adding that the 0.7 million Indian security forces could not repress the Kashmiris movement.
The prime minister warned India that it would be a bad omen for peace in the region, if its forces continued with the horrendous practice of killing the innocent.
Earlier, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry briefed the cabinet on situation in Held Kashmir. The cabinet members agreed the Pakistani embassies as well as the Foreign Office should register a protest against Indian atrocities by submitting resolutions to the United Nations.
During the meeting, the federal cabinet also approved the increase in the upper age limit to 30 years for the candidates appearing in Central Superior Services (CSS) exam. Previously, it was 28 years. It also condemned the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia and France and expressed grief over the loss of precious lives.
During the meeting, the cabinet members offered fateha for late social worker Abdus Sattar Edhi, Amjad Sabri and the Kashmiri martyrs. Separately, Punjab Governor Rafique Rajwana briefed the prime minister on the pace of ongoing development projects in southern Punjab.
Rajwana, who called on Nawaz at the Governor’s House, also apprised him about the performance of universities in the province. The prime minister directed him to award priority status to the development projects in southern Punjab besides introducing practical steps towards fulfilling basic needs, especially water supply and sewerage. The prime minister also directed the vice-chancellors to ensure measures for raising academic standards.