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September 19, 2019

Going to fight in IOK to be enmity with Pakistan, Kashmiris: PM

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September 19, 2019

TORKHAM: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday that anyone from Pakistan going to Kashmir to fight would be doing injustice to Pakistan and Kashmir as India would exploit it and blame Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

“Such a person would be an enemy of Pakistan and Kashmir,” he declared while addressing a press conference after inaugurating 24/7 operations at the busy Torkham border town.

The prime minister reiterated his resolve that no deal like the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that General Pervez Musharraf offered to the two leaders presently in prison (Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif) would be given despite their blackmailing tactics as they had looted the country. He alleged that they took record loans, indulged in money-making and caused budget deficits during their rule and this led to devaluation of the Rupee resulting in inflation and suffering for the people. He said the previous two NROs caused escalation in the country’s debt.

Imran Khan came down hard on the BJP government in India and termed its actions abnormal because the present ruling elite led by Narendra Modi was racist.He alleged that 20 million Muslims in India were being treated as second class citizens, the Muslims in Assam were being deprived of citizenship and IOK’s special status has been revoked.

“Until Article 370 is restored and curfew is lifted in IOK, there could be no peace talks with India. I will raise the issue of Jammu and Kashmir like never before in the UN General Assembly,” he maintained.

Terming the launching of round-the-clock border crossings at Torkham as historic, Imran Khan said that it would not only boost trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan and bring prosperity, but also increase contacts with the Central Asian countries. The premier said that during his visit to Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, it was revealed to him that the governments in Central Asian Republics had an interest in doing overland trade with Pakistan via Afghanistan and were waiting for the Gwadar seaport to become functional.

“The problems in Afghanistan remain a hurdle. We are working and praying for peace in Afghanistan and Inshaallah restoration of peace would help change the region. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would benefit and Peshawar would become the hub with creation of jobs and generation of businesses,” he added.

The prime minister noted that there had been 50 percent increase in the Pak-Afghan trade during the trial period since September 2 following the decision to keep open the Torkham border round-the-clock. It was apparently the first time that a prime minister of Pakistan paid a visit to Torkham despite security concerns.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, Governor Shah Farman, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Establishment Muhammad Shehzad Arbab, provincial ministers Atif Khan, Taimur Saleem Jhagra and Shaukat Yousafzai and senior civil and military officials attended the event.

Afghan guests walked across the border to a warm welcome to attend the ceremony. Among them was Hayatullah Hayat, the governor of the neighbouring province of Nangarhar and the minister of public works.

The prime minister was also scheduled to inaugurate the Pak-Afghan Dosti (Friendship) Hospital at Torkham, but he couldn’t do it for some unexplained reason. The hospital would mostly cater to the needs of Afghan patients coming to Pakistan for treatment. Governor Shah Farman and Afghan Governor Hayatullah Hayat together got it inaugurated and made a round of the hospital.

The Frontier Corps jawans put up a display of martial dance soon after the prime minister cut the tape to formally inaugurate the 24/7 operation at Torkham.

In reply to questions, Imran Khan highlighted the need for peace in Afghanistan after four decades of war and said he would discuss resumption of peace talks between the Taliban and the US in his meeting on Monday with President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.

“Pakistan did all to facilitate the peace talks. We sent the Taliban leaders to Qatar to take part in the dialogue. Pakistan didn’t take part in the dialogue involving the Taliban and the US so we weren’t aware of the hurdles during the process which ended recently. We would have tried to overcome the hurdles if we had known about it,” he explained.

In reply to another question whether he still had the plan to invite a Taliban delegation to Pakistan for a meeting with him, the prime minister said he was planning to meet the Taliban leaders once the peace agreement had been signed to persuade them to hold direct talks with the Afghan government.

Imran Khan also condemned the recent incident in Ghotki and termed it a conspiracy against his coming visit to the UN as India would exploit it to claim that the minorities weren’t safe in Pakistan. “Our Constitution, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Islam gave rights to the minorities,” he added.

Our correspondent adds from Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan made a phone call to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and conveyed sympathies and condolences over the loss of lives of innocent civilians in two terrorist attacks in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

The prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s condemnation of the attacks. He also conveyed his relief on President Ghani's safety, who was present at the time of a blast in his election rally. He said Pakistan will continue to support Afghanistan in its efforts for restoration of complete peace and stability.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan discussed the situation in IOK with his Swedish counterpart. Imran Khan held a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven of Sweden and highlighted India’s illegal and unilateral steps of August 05 to change the disputed status of IOK and to alter its demographic structure. He underlined that these steps were in violation of the UNSC resolutions and international law.

Highlighting the dire human rights and humanitarian situation, the prime minister called for immediate lifting of lockdown and curfew in place for 45 days, removal of restrictions on movement, provision of access to humanitarian organisations and respect for the rights and freedom of the Kashmiri people.

Lofven expressed concern over the human rights situation and highlighted the importance of de-escalation of the situation and resolution of issues through dialogue. Meanwhile, Imran Khan said prefabricated houses will be constructed in big cities like Karachi and Lahore where many people have been residing in shanties and they cannot build their own house due to high prices of land.

The premier performed ground-breaking of Prefabricating Housing Project at the Prime Minister Office (PMO). Addressing the ceremony, the prime minister said the project will help provide affordable houses to the ordinary people in the shortest possible time. He said prefabricated houses will be established in big cities like Karachi and Lahore where many people have been residing in shanties and land is extremely expensive there. The Prime Minister said prefabricated houses can be set up within three to four months while construction of flats takes three to four years.

Imran Khan in a separate statement made it clear that there would be accountability for all with regard to the Kasur incident. The Prime Minister tweeted, “On the Kasur incident: There will be accountability for all. Those who do not perform in the interest of the common man will be taken to task. Following actions have so far been taken by the Punjab police & the provincial govt: 1) DPO Kasur being removed. 2) SP investigation Kasur surrendered, charge sheeted and being proceeded against. 3) DSP and SHO suspended. 4) Major overhaul in Kasur local police on the cards. 5) Formal probe ordered under Addl IG.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi urged the political parties to rise above their political differences and speak with one voice in support of oppressed Kashmiri people at this critical juncture.

He was addressing the National Parliamentarians Conference on Kashmir in Islamabad. The minister said Modi government has Akhand Bharat mindset and the gravity of situation demands sanity on our part. He said Kashmiris will never be left alone at this critical juncture.

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