AJK prime minister’s disappointment with Kashmir policy a serious matter

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 01:15 PM, 21 Jul, 2020
AJK prime minister’s disappointment with Kashmir policy a serious matter

AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider’s Sunday speech on the Kashmir policy being pursued by successive governments in Pakistan has a food for thought for leaders of all parties, especially those who have been in power or stand a chance in the future.

At a ceremony in Muzaffarabad, the veteran leader said the Kashmir dispute cannot be solved even in “700 years by following the current policy”. Kashmiris, he said, have done their due and now it is for Pakistan to perform its role.

He underlined the need for approaching all relevant world forums to get justice for the Kashmiris.

The AJK prime minister has also been quoted as saying at the same ceremony that his government has sent some proposals on this subject to authorities in Pakistan.

He seeks permission for his government and the Hurriyat Conference to present its case at the international level.

Realistically speaking there can’t be a more blunt comment on the worthlessness of the policy Pakistan’s governments of various parties have been following for decades – without any success – to get the Kashmiris their rights.

What the AJK premier said was reflective of the collective disappointment of the Kashmiri people who have been offering sacrifices in all periods to get independence from India. They have pinned all hopes on Pakistan, and in case Islamabad failed to come up to their expectations the enslaved Kashmiris would be left with no option but to consider other alternatives available to them.

The more unfortunate thing is that despite offering all sacrifices - in the form of human lives and material losses – barbaric India has not changed its attitude. Conversely, it has unleashed more oppression with the passage of time, making the lives of Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir more miserable. Its Aug 5 move to annex occupied Kashmir, ignoring its disputed status in the light of the UN resolutions, has exposed its future designs. This step has converted occupied Kashmir into world’s biggest prison.

In these circumstances coming to the expectations of the Kashmiri people has become a more challenging task for Pakistan. Rhetorical statements issued on various occasions that Pakistan would stand by the Kashmiri people through thick and thin would not be sufficient to satisfy the oppressed Kashmiris in the times ahead. There is a need for practical steps to mitigate the sufferings of the Kashmiris.

What is very painful is the fact that the PTI government has not taken any steps to highlight the Kashmir dispute at the international level. It has appointed Shehryar Afridi as chairman of the Kashmir committee, a man totally unfit for the job.

An articulate leader fully aware of the history of Kashmir dispute, good at negotiating skills can perform this role better.

So far, little interest has been shown by the opposition parties of all shades of opinion to get the Kashmiris their rights. Everyday they chastise the PTI government on one pretext or the other and are discussing plans to get rid of Imran Khan as prime minister. But all leaders of the PML-N, PPP, PML-Q, JUI-F, Jamaat-i-Islami, Awami National Party, MQM-P have not come up with any ideas to make Kashmir part of Pakistan.

In these circumstances the PTI leadership should consider the possibility of convening an all-party conference exclusively on Kashmir issue. Leaders of all parties must participate in it and work out a strategy to get the Kashmiris their due rights. They should also formulate a new policy as the existing one would not yield results even in 700 years, as stated by the AJK prime minister.

Former diplomats like Najmuddin Sheikh, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Maleeha Lodhi, Riaz Khokhar, Begum Abida Hussain should also be invited to the conference for their input.

To make the exercise more meaningful AJK leaders belonging to all parties should also be invited and their opinion should be given utmost importance.

All participants should hammer out a future strategy to highlight the Kashmir dispute at the international level. Delegations should be sent to the Islamic countries to elicit their support for the Kashmir cause.

The role sought by AJK premier for Kashmiris and the Hurriyat conference deserves serious consideration.