TARAR KHAL, AJK: Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday promised the people of Kashmir that his government will hold a referendum in which they could choose to join Pakistan or become an independent state.
Addressing an election campaign rally here, he rubbished talk of him "wishing to turn Azad Jammu and Kashmir into a new province of Pakistan". "I do not know where all this talk has sprung from," he said, dismissing any such idea.
"But what I want to make clear now is that in 1948, there were two United Nations Security Council resolutions which granted the people of Kashmir the right to decide their future. According to the UN resolutions, the people have to decide whether they want to join Hindustan or Pakistan.
"I want to clarify to all of you today. InshaAllah, a day will come, when all the sacrifices made by the people of Kashmir will not be wasted. God will grant you that right. There will be a referendum, InshaAllah.”
He expressed the confidence that the people on that day will choose to live with Pakistan. The premier said after the UN mandated referendum, his government will hold another referendum, where the people of Kashmir will be given the choice to either live with Pakistan or become an independent state.
Imran said the freedom struggle of Kashmiris pre-dated the partition and began more than a 100 years ago when the people stood up time and again against the Dogra government. He said contrary to the corrupt leaders, who being the slaves of their wealth could not speak against the tyranny of Narendra Modi regime and its RSS ideology, he will continue to plead the case of innocent Kashmiris at all international fora.
“When you have money abroad, you become the slave of that wealth. When you have your stolen properties and wealth abroad, you are controlled from abroad,” he said.
Imran said Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) leader Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) leader Nawaz Sharif, who were part of All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) along with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) before the 2008 general election and wanted to boycott the election, later decided to take part in the elections on foreign influence.
He referred to a telephonic conversation between Benazir Bhutto and Bilawal Zardari Bhutto mentioned on page 292 of a book titled “The Way of the World” written by Ron Suskind, during which she told her son about the details of her bank accounts and properties abroad.
The prime minister said the conversation, which was recorded by a foreign agency, later led to a deal (NRO) between Benazir Bhutto and the then President Pervez Musharraf on foreign influence.
“When politicians have their stolen wealth abroad and it comes in the knowledge of western countries, then they control such politicians,” he remarked. Similarly, he said Nawaz Sharif, who was part of APDM which wanted to boycott the 2008 election and was demanding restoration of the chief justice, later decided to take part in general election on orders from abroad.
“Leaving us (APDM) standing at a canal bridge, Nawaz Sharif decided to participate in 2008 general election,” Imran Khan remarked. Imran said the people of Azad Kashmir should question the two old political parties [PPP and PML-N) what they did for the people of AJK and the Kashmir cause during their five-year each rule in Azad Kashmir and again seeking people’s mandate.
“Did they [PPP and PML-N] speak or raise their voice at international fora against the tyranny of Narendra Modi in the Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOJ&K), use of pallet guns and brutalities against minorities in India?” he asked.
Imran said instead of raising his voice against the Indian atrocities in IIOJ&K, Nawaz invited Narendra Modi on the wedding of his granddaughter and did not even meet Hurriyat leaders during his visit to New Delhi on the inauguration of Modi.
He said Nawaz wanted to make Narendra Modi his friend as he (Modi) could help him with lobby in America through Israel. “When Narendra Modi was engaged in efforts to isolate Pakistan and declare it a terrorist state, the then prime minister of the country [Nawaz Sharif] wanted to make Modi his friend and invite him on weddings,” Imran Khan remarked.
He pointed out that Nawaz Sharif, according to Indian journalist Barkha Dutt, held secret meetings with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in Nepal against the Pakistan Army.
During the ten years of PPP and PML-N rule, he said, they continued to publicly condemn drone attacks in Pakistan, while allowing the United States to continue the same through covert permission. “Why there are no drone attacks during my government?” he questioned.
The prime minister referred to a conversation between the then President Asif Ali Zardari and a US General in a book titled “Obama’s Wars” written by Bob Woodward and said Asif Zardari told the US General that he [Zardari] had no problem with the collateral damage – killing of innocent people including women and children – in the drone attacks.
He said the prime focus of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) would be the uplift of underprivileged people by ensuring provision of education, health and subsidized food.
Imran said the PTI had on its agenda several development projects aimed at poverty alleviation in the state. Imran vowed to launch special programmes for the low-income class in AJK after his party won the upcoming election.
He said for the 40 percent of poor population, ration cards for food items at subsidized rates would be introduced. He said a software for the said facility would be launched by December, the database of which had already been prepared.
Imran said of 40 percent low-income people, each family member under the Kamyab Pakistan programme would be given technical education and interest-free loans to help them earn their livelihood. Imran said the government would also introduce a health card scheme for the people in AJK with Rs1 million health insurance per household.
He said the PTI government aimed to realize the true potential of AJK in terms of tourism and encourage the related economic activity in the area. Imran said some political parties had already started crying foul about rigging in the upcoming AJK elections despite the fact that for the last one year, he had been inviting their cooperation on electoral reforms to ensure transparency through the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
He said those raising hue and cry on rigging were in fact afraid of their defeat in elections. “To Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, I tell that it is your government in AJK, your administration and the Election Commission of your choice. So how can we do rigging there?” he said.
“InshaAllah, I am confident that the sacrifices of Kashmiri people will not go in vain and the day is not far when a referendum in Kashmir will be held to give them right to decide about their fate,” he added. Imran Khan paid tribute to the detained Kashmiri leaders Ali Gilani and Yasin Malik, saying the entire Pakistani nation stood with them in their just struggle to the right to self-determination.