When in Kashmir, talk about Kashmir and Kashmiris

It seems the whole scenic Azad Jammu and Kashmir has become D-Chowk of Islamabad if one goes through the speeches being delivered by leaders like Prime Minister Imran Khan, PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz and PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto.

The three leaders have discussed everything about each other, except for Kashmir and Kashmiris.

The whole world, especially the Kashmiris on the other side of the Line of Control, are watching the whole scenario with awe and shock. Hardly anything about the local issues! Hardly anything about Kashmir’s future!

On Sunday, Khawaja Younus walked 40 minutes from his village to reach Hattian Bala to attend the gathering of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz. “I went to the rally because every person in the village was going there,” says Khawaja. “I’ll vote for the PPP candidate because he’s our distant relative.”

Khawaja says he along with other village people returned disappointed as Maryam did not speak on the chronic issues of their area. “Roads are broken. Internet and telecom connectivity is weak. Jobs are almost nowhere,” said Younas’s brother, Khawaja Hameed.

Instead at the well-attended rally, Maryam called herself and her father Nawaz Sharif ‘blood of Kashmir’ and that the PML-N will never allow the PTI to make Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) a province of Pakistan. No one can afford to make AJK a Pakistan’s province, says Saadia Malik, a Kashmiri leader. “Moreover, we have never heard of any such plan being discussed at any forum.” Such statements would undermine the case of Kashmir besides sowing the seeds of discords among the Kashmiris living in India-held Kashmir. She went on to say that the prime minister should not visit the AJK after “selling” Kashmir to India.

From her first speech to the latest one, the core of her speeches has been against Prime Minister Imran Khan. In one of her speeches, she said that everyone in Pakistan and AJK knows who brought Imran Khan to power and for what objectives who is busy in increasing inflation, poverty, and load-shedding in the country.

The PTI has been equally worse. If Maryam only targeted Prime Minister Imran Khan, PTI’s representatives have gone after both PML-N and PPP leaders. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speeches have been echoed with NRO, thieves, and the dirty people stashing assets abroad.

Come on, Khan sahib, what’s new in it? “Opposition parties are rallying against the government and threatening to overthrow it only to get concessions under the NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) with the aim to keep the previous system intact, in which the laws were different for the rich,” he said in his maiden speech.

Remember the speeches of Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Khan Gandapur that

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a traitor and Nawaz Sharif a dacoit. After lashing out the PPP and PML-N leaders, he turned to praise of Prime Minister Imran Khan calling him the man improving the standing of Pakistan in the world while past rulers indebted the country and did nothing to improve the living standards of the masses.

Bilawal Bhutto has been unforgiving to both the PTI and the PML-N. In his speeches, he called PML-N cats and PTI cowards. In his absence, his younger sister Aseefa Bhutto Zardari joined the party’s electioneering campaign in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The charismatic Bhutto scion, however, spent her time detailing the “sacrifices of lives” given for the rights of the people and that Kashmir was close to her heart as the PPP was founded by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on Kashmir issue and her mother was the voice for Kashmir all over the world.

The Kashmiris can ask the leaders from Pakistan to leave their Pakistani politics back at home when they come to Kashmir. When in Kashmir, talk about Kashmir and Kashmiris.


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