Lawmakers address joint session of parliament on Kashmir issue
Pakistan’s fight is with India’s racist ideology, says Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He was addressing a joint session of parliament summoned by President Arif Alvi to discuss the situation in Kashmir after India repealed articles 35A and 370 of its Constitution, revoking the special status granted to Indian-administered Kashmir.
The session started at 11am. National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser adjourned it for 20 minutes after the opposition caused a ruckus in the House.
It was disrupted by protest from opposition lawmakers who pointed out that the day’s agenda did not specifically mention Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
The scuffle continued even after Qaiser assured that the article will be mentioned in the resolution that was moved by Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Khan Swati condemning India’s “illegal actions” in Kashmir.
“They have violated all international and national law for their ideology,” PM Khan said, while referring to India’s actions.
He said the session was not just for Pakistan, but a ray of hope for Kashmiris. “It is important for the whole world. The repercussions of India’s decision will affect everyone in the world,” he said.
PM Khan emphasised that when his government came to power, the priority was to lift inflation and poverty. To achieve this, the premier believed, good relations were needed with neighbouring countries.
He explained how tension, instability and a state of war in a country can negatively affect investment and growth. “You can’t lift people out of poverty then,” he said.
“I spoke to all our neighbours and even told India that if they take one step ahead in friendship [with Pakistan], we will take two steps ahead. I also approached Afghanistan and requested them to forget the bitter past,” he said.
He said he contacted Iran as well. The premier said his recent trip to the US was also to ease ties between the two countries and to get stability in Pakistan.
“I want Pakistan to progress; to increase its growth rate; to bring investment in the country. When I talked to Modi, he expressed his reservation that Pakistan has training camps. I explained to him that in 2014 when the APS attack happened, all political parties were on the same page and signed the National Action Plan,” PM Khan said.
Under this plan, it was stated that no militant group will operate from Pakistan.
Khan reiterated that Pakistan has time and again tried to open dialogue with India. He said that he later realised that India is not interested. “Then Pulwama happened. We tried our best to explain to India that Pakistan had nothing to do with the Pulwama attack, but we realised later that [blaming Pakistan] it was all their political agenda for petty politics and to divert people from their barbaric acts in Kashmir,” the premier told the House.
“India wanted to create war hysteria in their country,” he said, adding that they wanted an anti-Pakistan sentiment to prevail. “Even then, we returned their pilot in return,” the PM said, referring to Abhinandan Varthaman, an Indian fighter pilot who was captured by the Pakistan Army and released later on March 1 as a peace gesture.
“When I met Trump, I requested him to play his part on the Kashmir issue in good faith, but what India did yesterday was in the manifesto of their elections,” he said.
“It is their [BJP’s] ideology. It is based on RSS,” he said, adding that BJP’s ideology is to carry out ethnic cleansing of Muslims.
He paid tribute to Quaid-e-Azam and his ideology, saying that he was remembered as the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. “He [Jinnah] wanted freedom from the British. He then feared that Muslims will be stuck under the burden of the Hindu Raj. Quaid-e-Azam’s ideology was also from Riasat-e-Madinah: that we all are equal,” said PM Khan.
He said Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech was also about equality. “Riasat-e-Madinah rejected racism. Our religious practices are the opposite,” he said.
On Monday, the production orders for former president Asif Ali Zardari, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had been issued too. The National Assembly speaker has sought advice from the law ministry regarding the production orders of PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah.
The Indian government has decided to bifurcate the state into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The former will have a legislature while the latter won’t.
The move came after Indian forces locked down Indian-administered Kashmir, cut off internet and cell phone services and put senior leaders under house arrest. It also deployed thousands of additional troops to the region.
Eleven Kashmiris were also killed on the Pakistan side of Kashmir after Indian forces used cluster ammunition targeting civilian population along the Line of Control. On Sunday, Pakistan released evidence in the form of pictures and videos of the bombs in civilian settlements. UN observers also visited the bomb sites.