–Imran says revoking status of occupied region, ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri people by ‘Nazi BJP’ will have global implications
–Says Pakistan doesn’t want war but New Delhi shouldn’t bite off what it can’t chew
–Govt, Opp urge joint strategy on issue, Shehbaz says nation needs unity more than ever
–Bilawal says PM should take up leadership role, says India has pushed region one step closer to war
ISLAMABAD: A session of joint parliament on Tuesday condemned the abrogation of occupied Kashmir’s special status, with Prime Minister Imran Khan saying the fallout of the decision will have global impacts.
Addressing a session of National Assembly, Prime Minister Imran Khan denounced India’s ‘racist’ policies towards Kashmir and urged the international community to act against the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Kashmiris at the hands of the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).
The session was called in parliament in the wake of the growing tensions between Pakistan and India over the latter’s decision to revoke articles 370 and 35-A of the occupied region, thus withdrawing the special status of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
Requesting attention from the parliamentarians, the premier said that the session is of great significance because not only does it affect the Kashmiris and the Pakistanis, but the recent move will also have repercussions around the world.
He said that when the incumbent government assumed power in August last year, it reached out to all neighbouring countries to achieve its target of establishing regional peace and shared economic prosperity.
“We cannot attain stability and alleviate poverty without having a semblance of normalcy in ties with our neighbours,” he said, referring to Pakistan’s desire for peace.
“I visited Afghanistan to address our past differences. I talked to India and told them if they take once step towards us, we would take two steps forward. I went to Iran to improve our ties and then I visited the US and asked the president [Trump] to help us out in achieving peace in the region,” he added.
The prime minister said that when Pakistan first reached out to India, the latter expressed concerns about the alleged operations of militants from Pakistani soil.
“We told them that after the tragic Army Public School (APS) massacre in 2014, all political parties had agreed upon a National Action Plan (NAP), wherein it was decided that Pakistan’s territory would not be used for carrying out terrorist activities,” he said, adding that he had a feeling that India was not serious about talks and that feeling was strengthened in Bishkek when India gave Pakistan a cold shoulder.
“They took our overtures for peace as weakness, so we stopped extending offers to hold talks,” he further said.
He said that after the Pulwama incident, when Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down an Indian aircraft which violated its airspace, Pakistan returned the captured Indian pilot as a gesture of peace to tell the world that it was not interested in a war.
“We resolved that we would not move forward on talks over Kashmir till after Indian elections,” he added.
The premier said yesterday’s actions only confirmed his suspicions that India was not willing to hold talks over the matter at all.
“It was not a spontaneous decision, rather it was part of their election manifesto,” he said, adding that the BJP follows an ideology which puts Hindus above all religious groups and seeks the establishment of a state where all minorities are repressed.
“They have a racist ideology and their actions in Kashmir are a manifestation of their beliefs. They violated laws to uphold their ideology,” he added.
The premier said that he had asked US President Donald Trump to intervene because India was not willing to hold talks with Pakistan.
He feared that India would increase crackdown on Kashmiris to suppress the resistance movement.
“I am afraid that they may try to initiate the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiris, which will only lead to more incidents like Pulwama. I can already predict that this will happen and India will once again try to put the blame on us and strike us but we will definitely strike back,” he said.
He added that this would then lead to war and Pakistan would fight till the “last drop of our blood” but nobody will win the war because the world knows the consequences of nuclear warfare.
“This is not nuclear blackmail,” he said, adding that the global leadership should take notice of Indian aggression and its ‘racist’ policies.
He further said that his government would approach the world leaders to inform them about Indian brutalities in Kashmir.
“I know the Western world and I feel they are not aware of what is happening in Kashmir. I will inform them about India’s aggression against Kashmiris and other minority groups in India,” he added.
PM Imran compared the BJP to the Nazi party in Germany. “Theirs is the ideology which killed Mahatma Gandhi. If the world does not act and does not uphold its own laws then we will not be responsible.”
“I want to make it clear that we will fight this at every forum,” the premier concluded.
SHEHBAZ CALLS FOR DECISIVE RESPONSE:
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Shehbaz Sharif called for a decisive response to Indian aggression, saying that although Pakistan wants good relations with its neighbours, which, however, should be rooted in self-respect.
He criticised the government over what he called was a “failed foreign policy” as “none of our allies, including China, stood up for us in this grave moment”. In a statement later in the day, China denounced the Indian move.
“Is it our massive failure that the Indian government did what they wanted to and our government was rejoicing Donald Trump’s offer to mediate the Kashmir issue,” said the opposition leader.
The opposition leader said that while Pakistan should pursue peace in Afghanistan as it is mutually beneficial for both countries, it should not come at the cost of exhausting all resources without getting anything in return.
“I want to ask the government whether Trump’s offer of mediating Kashmir dispute was a ‘trap or trump card’?” he remarked.
“The government has given India a free hand while assuring the world that we want peace in Afghanistan. Are we the only ones responsible for establishing peace in Afghanistan,” he said.
“We have two options: either we hide or we take decisive action. Hiding is not an option, we must take decisive action,” he said, adding that Pakistan would not allow Indian PM Modi turn India into Israel and Kashmir into Palestine.
Shehbaz also assured the government the opposition will stand with it in this time of need as the “nation needed to show unity now more than ever”.
Responding to Shehbaz’s speech, PM Imran said that the parliament should advise the government on Pakistan’s next course of action.
“What measures have we not taken? Our Foreign Office (FO) held meetings with ambassadors and reached out to other countries and highlighted issues on international forums. What does Shehbaz suggest we do now? Launch an attack on India,” he said.
In response to Shehbaz’s comments about the meeting with the US president, he said that the meeting with Trump was not on India but rather on the situation in Afghanistan. “We are not a hired gun but it is in our interest that there is peace in Afghanistan. The US has accepted our point of view that there is no military solution to Afghanistan,” he said.
He further asked Shehbaz what his party had done to help the Kashmir cause during its years in power. To which, Shehbaz responded that he was not asking the premier to start a war but to pick a strong stance against India.
“Either we stand firm or bow down, Bowing down is out of the question. We have to stand firm for Kashmir. I believe Narendra Modi has gone to the last extent to coax Pakistan. We have to decide that this is not just about Kashmir but about Pakistan’s independence,” he said.
‘PM SHOULD TAKE UP LEADERSHIP ROLE’:
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged the premier before latter’s arrival to parliament to take up a leadership role that “every Pakistani expects from him”.
“Selected or not the prime minister must rise to the occasion. This is what every Pakistani expects from him,” said Bilawal.
Terming the Indian move a “historical attack”, he said an attack not only on Kashmir but an attack on the UN, an attack on international law, norms and precedents, democracy, rule of law, and inalienable right to self-determination”.
“It was also an attack on India, on the idea of India as a secular democratic India where all citizens have the right to be treated equally.” “It is an attack on the India of Nehru and Gandhi, but it is also an attack on the India of Vajpayee,” he added.
“India has now opened up a Pandora’s box that has the potential to engulf the entire region in flames and it has also opened the door to a potential nuclear catastrophe,” he said, alluding to the Indian move.
“We will not accept it, the people of Kashmir will not accept it, the people of India should not accept it and the world should not accept it.
“Modi is playing with fire,” he said.
“We demand leadership from this government,” he continued.
RUCKUS IN THE HOUSE:
Earlier, the opposition objected to a resolution presented by the government condemning India’s unilateral move to revoke Article 370 and strip occupied Kashmir of its special status.
NA Speaker Asad Qaiser adjourned the session soon after the opposition objected to the resolution saying that it did not mention India’s revocation of Article 370. PPP Senator Raza Rabbani said the main issue was not highlighted in the resolution.
In response to the opposition parties’ heckling, Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari remarked that the opposition was “there to make noise and not discuss the Kashmir issue”.