Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Monday that all Kashmiris have rejected outright India’s decision for annexation of occupied Kashmir on August 5 last year, stressing that while New Delhi has been able to suppress Kashmiris’ voices, their “minds remain free”.
His remarks came during a visit to the Chirikot sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Qureshi, who was accompanied by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf, Pakistan Army officers and media personnel, was briefed about India’s ceasefire violations from across the dividing line.
Foreign Minister visits LoC and encourages Kashmiris
Speaking to a gathering of people living in villages along the LoC, Qureshi said Indian border troops targeted unarmed and innocent civilians with their bullets
“We salute your courage that despite the suffering, you remain at your places, your morale remains high and you haven’t left your homes and moved. This is your commitment and your connection with this valley,” he told the residents.
“The victory will be yours, because you stand for truth. This world acknowledges that,” he said, but added: “It is a different matter that they become silent due to expediencies and trade interests.”
He said no Kashmiri was ready to accept India’s decision to annex occupied Kashmir. “They are restricted and locked up … but minds and hearts cannot be locked up,” he added.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday maintained that the world was not raising the Kashmir issue or speaking about it openly due to their economic and other interests shared with India. pic.twitter.com/wnbyO7mkoA
— Sonia Iqbal (@SoniaIqbalPK) August 3, 2020
Qureshi said Pakistan would raise voice for the Kashmiris at every international forum and highlight their plight at the hands of Indian security forces.
He emphasised that the Pakistani nation, military and political leadership had a consensus on the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan as an ambassador of Kashmir and I myself as a foreign minister are fighting your case at every forum,” he said, adding that every effort would be made to “shake the conscience of the world”.
FM Qureshi rejects Indian assertions of peace in Occupied Kashmir
The minister noted that India was giving a false impression about the resumption of normalcy in occupied Kashmir.
“If the situation is normal then why are the bodies of martyrs not being returned? It is because they are afraid of the reaction,” he said, adding that New Delhi had deployed 900,000 troops in the region for the same reason.
“They are degenerating psychologically, while you are winning this fight with determination,” Qureshi said.
— Muhammad (@madni31) August 3, 2020
He told the villagers that the Kashmir Highway in Islamabad had been renamed as the Srinagar Highway “because our destination is Srinagar”.
He said the day was not far when Kashmiris “will offer prayers of gratitude at Srinagar’s Jamia mosque”.
Other Pakistani leaders also express hope for Kashmir
Following the visit, SAPM Yusuf said he was “so proud of our armed forces for defending Kashmiris against constant Indian aggression and CFVs (ceasefire violations)”.
He paid tribute to the resolve of the victims of the Indian firing to “support the goal of their Kashmiri brethren for self-determination and liberation from illegal Indian occupation”.
“I appeal to the entire nation to join in solidarity with our Kashmiri brothers and sisters in IIOJK on #YoumeIstehsal. If they keep suffering, we keep suffering,” he tweeted.
The ministerial visit to the LoC comes as the world prepares to mark one year on Wednesday since India revoked the semi-autonomous status of occupied Kashmir and split it into two federal territories, causing further deterioration in New Delhi’s ties with Islamabad.
Last week, the government had called for observing the first anniversary of occupied Kashmir’s annexation on August 5 as Yaum-i-Istehsal (Day of Exploitation) with full enthusiasm as it rolled out a range of activities planned for the occasion.
Curfew imposed in occupied Kashmir ahead of anniversary of annexation
A curfew has been imposed across Indian Kashmir just two days before the first anniversary of New Delhi’s abolition of the restive region’s semi-autonomy, officials said late Monday, citing intelligence reports of looming protests.
“These restrictions shall come into force with immediate effect and shall remain in force on 4th and 5th August,” stated the government order issued for the main city of Srinagar.
“Full curfew will be enforced in all Kashmir districts,” a senior police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP.
A “full curfew” means people can only move around with an official pass, usually reserved for essential services like police and medical professionals.
The Himalayan region is already subject to restrictions to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus amid a jump in infections, with most economic activities limited and public movement curtailed.
The order said the separate virus lockdown would be extended until August 8.
Kashmir: troubled paradise
The latest surge in violence in the disputed Himalayan valley this year has left over 100 suspected Kashmiri militants dead. Some 72 militants have been killed since the coronavirus pandemic emerged in the region on March 20.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China. Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.
Some 70,000 people, mostly civilians, have died over the past 30 years in Indian-Occupied Kashmir, monitoring groups say. India has been very liberal in its killing of Kashmiris.
Read more: India gives a shut up call to OIC on Kashmir
The fighting is between Indian soldiers – who number around 500,000 on the ground – and freedom fighters wanting either independence or union with Pakistan.
Clashes between security forces and militants – which often escalate as demonstrators gather – have been a near-daily occurrence since India launched “Operation All Out” after the death of charismatic freedom fighter Burhan Wani in 2016.
Also, in the Siachen Glacier region in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A ceasefire took effect in 2003. Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan. According to several human rights groups, thousands have been killed in the conflict since 1989.
GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources