Kashmir Solidarity Day rallies


Duplicity on stance on Kashmir?


Pakistan has all along supported the Kashmiri people’s right of self-determination. The government frequently consults the leadership of the Kashmiri parties struggling against Indian oppression. Pakistan being a responsible state, it cannot go beyond extending moral and political support to the Kashmir cause. Having suffered most from terrorism, Pakistan has reiterated on a number of times that it will not allow its territory or areas under its control to be used for attacks on any other country. After fighting several wars with India, the establishment too has concluded that the Kashmir issue as well as other disputes with India can be settled only through talks. The stand taken by Nawaz Sharif in his address to the joint session of the AJK Assembly and Kashmir Council was in line with the country’s foreign policy doctrine.

The Punjab administration refused to allow JuD to hold a public rally in Lahore on account of the network having been declared a terrorist entity by the UN and because it is supposed to be under observation by the government. As is the practice with the banned outfits, several individuals affiliated with the network gathered near the Lahore Press Club under a newly created “Azadi-i-Kashmir Rabita Council” to deliver speeches. What remains incomprehensible is why JuD and at least two other outlawed networks operating under new names were allowed to hold a rally in Islamabad. This creates a perception that Islamabad administration and the Punjab government are following different policies. Hafiz Saeed, whose JuD arranged and dominated the rally, made public appearance in Islamabad after three years.

There was an insidious attempt in the speeches to create differences between the government and the army. Nawaz Sharif was condemned for avowedly developing personal friendship with Indian Prime Minister and ignoring the Kashmir cause. The army chief was, however, praised for his stance on Kashmir. The Islamabad rally raises questions about the seriousness of the interior ministry in dealing with banned organisations working under different names.