Imran cautions AJK residents against crossing over into IHK

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Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday once again advised the residents of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) against crossing the Line of Control to support the struggle of the people of Indian-held Kashmir (IHK), who have been under a crippling lockdown for over two months now.

“I understand the anguish of the Kashmiris in AJK seeing their fellow Kashmiris in IOJK (Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir) under an inhumane curfew for over 2 months,” the premier said in a tweet.

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“But anyone crossing the LoC from AJK to provide humanitarian aid or support for Kashmiri struggle will play into the hands of the Indian narrative,” he wrote.

That Indian narrative, Prime Minister Imran explained, tries to divert attention from the indigenous fstruggle of Kashmiris against brutal Indian occupation by trying to label it as “Islamic terrorism” being driven by Pakistan.

“It will give India an excuse to increase violent oppression of Kashmiris in IOJK & attack across LoC,” he cautioned.

The prime minister’s advice comes a day after tens of hundreds of emotionally charged Kashmiris from different parts of AJK set out in vehicular and motorcycle rallies to Muzaffarabad on the call of pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) to show solidarity with the besieged people of IHK.

A JKLF spokesperson was quoted by a publication as saying that the marchers would put up at different places in Muzaffarabad on Friday and resume their march towards Chakothi sector at 10am on Saturday.

“From Chakothi we will cross over the ceasefire line (LoC) for Srinagar,” he said, expressing his desire for the administration and police to not create hindrances for them.

Earlier on Friday, the Muzaffarabad administration and police officials had visited the local press club to appeal to people to avoid getting close to the LoC “in the interest of their own safety”.

“There are strong apprehensions that the Indian army would resort to shelling at the people assembling along the LoC, which can subsequently cause serious casualties,” divisional commissioner Chaudhry Imtiaz said, urging “the participants of all rallies and processions not to provide any opportunity to the enemy to hurt unarmed citizens”.

There were reports that the administration had planned to stop the marchers beyond Chinari, located about 10 kilometres before the LoC.

Frustration, anger and fear have been growing in IHK since August 5, when the Hindu nationalist-led government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the region of its semi-autonomous status and imposed a curfew and a communications blackout.

The Indian government deployed thousands of troops to the already heavily militarised region to quell potential dissent. It also cut off Internet access, put politicians under house arrest and shut down schools. The lockdown and communications blackout entered their 62nd day on Saturday.

Meanwhile, both Prime Minister Imran and the Pakistan Army have warned that India could stage a “false flag operation” to divert the world’s attention from its rights violations in Kashmir. Imran Khan in his address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session last week warned of a potential nuclear war with India following a simmering crisis in the disputed valley. Several rights groups, including the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees. Indian authorities, however, claim that daytime restrictions have been lifted in 93 percent of the region.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan and the entire nation were standing with the Kashmiri people in their struggle of freedom.

Addressing the first session of National Zakariya Conference in Multan, he said, “We pray for the independence of Kashmir.”

The FM said that negotiations for the settlement of Afghanistan issue were in progress and “we wish success of dialogue”. He maintained that the Afghan people had suffered bloodshed for a long period, which should be stopped now.