Prime Minister Imran Khan has promised the Kashmiris that the government will hold a referendum to allow them to decide whether to join Pakistan or become an independent state.

Addressing rallies in Tarar Khal and Kotli on the last day of the election campaign on Friday, he rubbished the claim that he wanted to turn Azad Jammu and Kashmir into a province of Pakistan.

“I do not know where all this talk has sprung from,” he said.

“But what I want to make clear that in 1948, there were two United Nations Security Council resolutions which granted the people of Kashmir the right to decide their future.”

He paid tributes to the Kashmiris for their more than a century-old struggle for freedom and said the unprecedented sacrifices rendered by them would not go in vain and they would exercise their right to self-determination and decide to accede to Pakistan and not India through a UN-sponsored referendum.

After the UN referendum, “we will hold another referendum asking the Kashmiris to decide whether they want to live with Pakistan or as an independent nation,” he said at both places in almost the same words.

He said a nation that had been struggling for more than 150 years had a right to get what it wanted. “Remember, the decision has to be made by the Kashmiris themselves… And the day is not far when you will decide about the future status of your own free accord.”

He said the struggle of the Kashmiris was not for land but for their fundamental human and democratic rights to decide their fate.

He said although the people of Occupied Kashmir were going through the most difficult times of their history at the moment, he foresaw that soon India would be compelled to honour its pledge about the plebiscite. “However brute force India may employ it will fail to quell the Kashmiris’ quest for freedom.”

Describing himself as an ambassador of Kashmiris, Prime Minister Imran promised that he would raise his voice for them at all international forums as well as before the world leaders and international media.

He asked the crowd that they should put two questions to the people from the two old parties visiting them these days and begging for another chance (to form a government in AJK). “You should ask what they did to ameliorate the lives of people and how much fight they put up for Kashmir cause in the world during their term in office,” he said.

Rather, they had befriended Narendra Modi, notwithstanding the fact he had unleashed the worst-ever atrocities on Kashmiris, added the prime minister while referring to the terrorism unleashed in occupied Kashmir and persecution of India’s minority communities by the Hindutva-driven government in New Delhi.

He said he would ask Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif that how many times have blamed the RSS. How many times they have condemned what has been happening with the Indian Muslims. How many times have they raised their voice against the RSS ideology crushing the Muslims and other minorities?

He said Nawaz Sharif invited Modi to a wedding in his family. He had also declined to meet Hurriyat Conference leaders during a visit to India to attend Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, Prime Minister Imran added.

The prime minister referred to two books by foreign authors and asked the audience to Google them to know for themselves why Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari would not speak against India and Modi.

Stating that no politician with ill-gotten money stashed in foreign lands could go against the diktats of the Western countries, he claimed that Benazir Bhutto had struck a deal with Gen Pervez Musharraf for this very reason.

Similarly, he claimed that Nawaz Sharif, who had thrice agreed to boycott [2008] polls, reversed his decision after receiving an order from a country where he had stashed illegitimate money that he did not want to lose.

Referring to the US drone attacks during the PPP and the PML-N governments along the country’s western borders, he said though publicly they would condemn the attacks but in effect, they had themselves allowed the US to carry out attacks.

“We should not blame the US. It was our own people who had allowed it because otherwise they feared the loss of their illegitimate wealth in Western countries,” he said, adding that both the leaders were not speaking against the Israeli atrocities in Palestine for the same reason.

He claimed that his government would leave no stone unturned to accomplish its mission of working for the welfare of the poor and said they would get direct subsidies to buy food at low prices.

Rubbishing allegations by the PML-N that the AJK polls would be rigged, he asked as to how PTI or the central government could rig the polls when the government in AJK was still being run by the PML-N which had itself appointed the Election Commission and its staff.

“Everything is under their control, but rigging will be done by us,” he continued.

The premier said his party had been asking the opposition for a year to discuss electronic voting machines.

“This technology helps you get the results in no time and there will not be any need for manual counting of votes and moving of the polling bags from one place to another…,” he said.

“But the opposition is not willing to listen to us,” he added.

Asking people to vote for PTI in Sunday’s elections to change their fate, he said his government intended to bring people out of poverty the way China had done so over the last 30 years.

Among other things, he also promised that the government would push for the exploitation of rich tourism potential in AJK so that the local youths did not need to go abroad for jobs.

The story was filed by the News Desk.
The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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