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January 24, 2020

PM Imran Khan to spearhead week-long campaign to highlight Kashmir issue

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January 24, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on his return from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos announced a week-long campaign in and outside Pakistan to highlight the continued negation of human rights violations and 175 days of lockdown of Kashmiris in the Indian Occupied and Kashmir (IOK).

Activities to highlight Kashmir will start from January 25 and continue till February 5. "Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to launch a robust information campaign and come what may, we will continue to raise the issue politically, morally, diplomatically until such time their (Kashmiris) right to self-determination is not granted,” the minister stated while addressing a press conference at the Foreign Office.

He regretted that when Pakistan had last highlighted the issue of IOK and momentum had built up to its peak, a political dharna in Islamabad managed to steal attention of the media. He did not name the JUI-F’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Pakistan is also hoping that eventually and very soon, Saudi Arabia will give its consent and support for a meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on the fast deteriorating situation in IOK.

“We need to move ahead and I raised the issue of IOK twice with the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia. They are considering it and came up with a suggestion which I do not want to get into right now. We will not be disappointed,” the minister said regarding his second meeting recently with his Saudi counterpart in Riyadh.

The IOK was also raised this week at the sidelines of WEF in Davos in a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Donald Trump.

“The prime minister spoke and explained the complexities of the issue and stressed that if the US continues to ignore the problem the fallout in a confrontation between two nuclear powered nations would be felt beyond the region. The UScannot remain silent on this,” the minister said.

In response, said Qureshi, Trump who was present with his entire team of senior officials, expressed his concern at the negation of human rights to every Kashmiri. “We have raised this issue of violation of human rights with India and will continue to raise it,” Qureshi quoted the American president who is set to visit India next month.

The minister agreed that the US listens to Pakistan but looks at its own interests in the region and has not delivered directly on IOK. “But what is also important is that the US has also not stopped the issue of Kashmir to be raised and debated upon as we saw twice at the United Nations Security Council. It cannot be resolved overnight,” he added.

Even earlier immediately after the meeting with Trump in Davos, the foreign minister had tweeted, “PM highlighted grave & deteriorating situation in Indian occupied J&K & the need for sustained US role to help resolve without which peace in South Asia elusive. President Trump offered to play a role to work on J&K dispute & ease tension between Pakistan & India.”

Earlier in a tweet, Moeed W Yusuf, Special Assistant to PM on National Security Division, had also tweeted, “President Trump promised support on issues most important to Pakistan. Instructed specific members of his delegation to ensure it. We look forward to speedy follow up.”

Meanwhile, some of the steps that the government proposes to take up in its fresh campaign on Kashmir includes Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to the AJK Legislative Assembly in Muzaffarabad on February 5 and also a public meeting in Mirpur the same day to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir.

President Arif Alvi would be holding an event at the Awan-e-Sadr where foreign diplomats stationed in Islamabad would be invited and shown documentaries to bring home the reality in IOK which India keeps denying.

“The president and prime minister of AJK would write letters to different heads of states, requesting them to push India to lift the curfew and communication blackout in IOK,” said the foreign minister.

Of importance, he said, would be the media campaign in which the issue of Kashmir will be highlighted in the print, electronic and social media.

Cultural shows and photo exhibitions across Pakistan will be held. “Human chains as has been the norm will also be formed and I want to appeal to Kashmirs in AJK to come out in larger numbers so a message is sent across,” said the minister.

Chairman of the Special Committee on Kashmir Syed Fakhar Imam will chair a special seminar while ration will also be distributed at AJK refugee camps. "This message is not just for Pakistanis but for those across the Line of Control who continue to remain under a communication lockdown,” he said.