AJK PM warns against ‘stealing’ elections

MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider on Tuesday warned of strong resistance against attempts “to change the status of the liberated territory or steal its forthcoming general elections.”

Speaking at the last sitting of the AJK Assembly held to present and pass the annual budget, he expressed the hope that the institutions and armed forces of Pakistan would not allow any such move in the sensitive area of AJK.

“I declare on oath if anyone resorts to any such move we will mete out such a treatment that you will be reduced to a symbol of abomination for the future governments of Pakistan,” he said to the PTI led central government though without naming it directly.

Mr Haider said as long as the liberated territory existed by the name of “Azad state of Jammu and Kashmir”, the issue of Kashmir could not be swept under the rug.

Says PML-N cannot be sidelined, destined to retain power

“I was asked to remove the prefix ‘Azad.’ What could be its purpose,” he said, adding it’s whythey are out to bring in the parachutists in AJK.

He said no one could force him into giving up struggle for the rights of his people and that he was ready to offer whatever sacrifice was needed for this purpose.

Alluding to the establishment, he claimed that those who understood his statements were paying heed to it.

The AJK premier said since the PML-N could not be sidelined and was destined to retain power in AJK, its opponents were resorting to “unethical and unlawful” attempts out of the same fear.

He made it clear that the Kashmiris were not Pakistanis because of the AJK council or the ministry of Kashmir affairs but because of their conviction.

“We are the principal party to their dispute and around 12,500 of us have so far sacrificed their lives for the noble cause of freedom,” he said.

Taking exception to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s reported statement that “the solution of Kashmir issue was in his pocket,” Mr Haider said: “I want to ask him who has allowed him to propose any solution without taking the Kashmiris on board?”

He said he had hung the actual map of Jammu and Kashmir in his office and drawing unilateral changes to its map would not bring any solution to the issue.Declaring that his government would extend full cooperation to the election commission, he asked the AJK citizens, civil society activists and PML-N workers to monitor upcoming polls.

He warned government servants against becoming tools of political parties and said strict action would be taken in this regard.

He also reiterated his party’s allegiance to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif saying it firmly stood by his narrative.

“It’s because he is our benefactor. And we the people of Azad Kashmir are not unfaithful. Neither will we be coerced nor enticed into betraying him.”

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2021

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