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ISLAMABAD: Parliament lends support to Kashmiris’ struggle

parliament islamabadISLAMABAD: Both houses of parliament backed a fresh wave of deadly protests in Indian-held Kashmir on Monday to help draw world attention to what it called the Kashmiris’ legitimate struggle as New Delhi tried to defuse the unrest by sending a high-level political delegation to the disputed region.

In what appeared to be a government-sponsored move to coincide with the arrival of the Indian fact-finding mission in Srinagar, identical resolutions were adopted unanimously by the National Assembly and the Senate at the start of their new sessions, condemning “state terrorism” in the region and reaffirming Pakistan’s “diplomatic, political and moral support” for Kashmiris in their struggle.

But the second such move on Kashmir issue in more than two years of the present parliament was marred by a post-vote announcement by a member of the ANP dissociating his party from the resolution and a media boycott of the proceedings to protest against several recent incidents of violence against media-persons, including three killings, and what the protest organisers called government’s failure to provide security to journalists.

The chairman of the Parliament’s Special Committee on Kashmir, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, moved the resolution in the National Assembly. The voting was followed by a brief debate on an opposition-moved adjournment motion on the issue.Leader of the Opposition Wasim Sajjad read out the document in the Senate earlier.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was in the National Assembly, asked the house to take up the resolution immediately so the “international community is sensitised” about human rights’ violations in Indian-held Kashmir and also stood up in support of an adjournment motion moved by the PML-N to discuss the affair of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist convicted in the United States for attacking US soldiers in Afghanistan.

The resolution adopted by the assembly expressed the house’s “grave concern on the situation in occupied Kashmir”, condemned “India’s state terrorism” and demanded that India “stop murder and plunder” there, withdraw troops from the “state/urban population, cancel black laws, lift curfew, end media blackout, release Kashmiri leaders and thousands of imprisoned youth, refrain from obstructing the performance of religious duties and locking mosques and allow international human rights organisations to come to occupied Kashmir”.

It said Kashmiris were engaged in a “peaceful struggle for their right to self-determination in accordance with the United Nations Charter, UN resolutions, the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and resolutions of the Non-Aligned Movement as their basic right”.

It added: “Pakistan supports this legitimate struggle of Kashmiris and assures… (them) that they are not alone in this struggle; the whole Pakistani nation is with them and it will continue diplomatic, political and moral support for Kashmiris.

“This house makes it clear that Kashmir is an issue yet to be resolved under UN resolutions and it is not an internal problem of India.”

It appealed to world nations “not to remain silent spectators of the Kashmir situation and compel India to stop injustice and repression on Kashmiris and resolve the Kashmir issue, and take practical steps for the implementation of (relevant) UN Security Council resolutions.”

ANP’s Pervaiz Khan said during the following debate: “We are not a part of that resolution.” He said the movers had failed to consult his party, although no “no” had been heard in the voice vote and nobody had objected to Speaker Fehmida Mirza’s observation that the draft had been adopted unanimously.

The member, apparently intrigued by a hard-line speech by PML-N’s Safdar Khan who said jihad rather than resolutions would solve the Kashmir problem, even questioned the use of the parliament’s committee on Kashmir, describing it as interference in India’s affairs.

He pleaded for resolving the dispute through dialogue rather than bloodshed.

This provoked a protest walkout by Safdar Khan and several other PML-N members along with a sharp retort from Mahmood Bashir Virk who referred to ANP member’s remarks as something which “appeared to have been said not in the Pakistani parliament but in Indian parliament”.

Ahmad Hassan adds: The Senate, keeping in view the significance of the matter, decided to adopt the resolution before adjourning the house for the day in fulfilment of parliamentary traditions to pay respect to Senator Justice (retd) Abdul Razzaq Thaheem who died recently.

“This house condemns brutalities and atrocities that were unleashed by the Indian forces against people of Kashmir, killing 100 men, women and children in one month, and terms it gross violation of human rights,” the joint resolution said.

“This house urges the international community, including the United Nations as well as the World Human Rights Organisations, to take note of these brutalities. It further calls upon the government of Pakistan to continue moral and political support to the people of Kashmir on all international forums in their struggle for self-determination.”

Leader of the House Syed Nayyar Husain Bokhari said the resolution reflected the will of the people of Pakistan.

The house also paid tribute to Senator Thaheem who was the federal minister for local governments.

It expressed sorrow over the killing of MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq in London and expressed the hope that the culprits would be punished.

Earlier, the House Business Advisory Committee decided that the session would continue till Oct 1.

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