President Masood lauds efficient COVID response by AJK government

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Islamabad:     (Parliament Times)   Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has commended Raja Farooq Haider Khan, Prime Minister AJK for the timely convening of an All-Parties Conference (APC) on the coronavirus lockdown in AJK. He said that the whole world is facing a calamity of massive proportions, the likes of which were last witnessed during the breakout of the Spanish Influenza in 1918. The State President while thanking the Almighty said that fortunately AJK has been least affected in all of Pakistan and till now we have no reported deaths from this pandemic.

The President during his address at the APC said that the cooperation between the governments of AJK and Pakistan has been exemplary. He said that the government of AJK has been working closely with national institutions like the Ministry of Health, National Disaster Management Authority, National Institute for Health and the Ehsaas programme. Under the Ehsaas programme Rs. 3 billion has been distributed amongst 248,000 deserving households. He added that the AJK Government has through its early disbursement of Zakat has helped deserving families in these trying times and also effectively upgraded essential health infrastructure.

The AJK President praised the positive role of all AJK political parties in their support to the AJK government after the breakout of the coronavirus. He commended the constructive role of the AJK Ulema who in all their meetings with the AJK leadership have vowed to follow prescribed SOPs, identify the deserving families and have also said that they will help reach out to philanthropists across the liberated State. They, he said, have pledged to raise awareness amongst the masses. “No sect or section of society will be targeted and all stakeholders are working in complete unison”, he said,

Masood Khan said that implementation of a smart lockdown will help effectively contain the disease but warned that the people should not assume that the danger has been averted. The public, he said, should continue to adhere to precautionary measures prescribed by the State government. Economic activity, said the President, will be rejuvenated and financial impact of the lockdown will be assessed in detail by the government.

President Masood Khan said that amidst the coronavirus lockdown many are either taking this issue non-seriously while many more are fearful and anxious over the outcome. “Hopelessness must be pinched and the political parties, opinion leaders and the Ulema can play a very positive role in this aspect”, he said.

The President said that in this time of distress we must not in any way forget the oppressed people of IOJK who are facing a dual lockdown, one since August 5, 2019, and the other, the coronavirus lockdown. Under the COVID lockdown the Indian occupation forces have intensified their repression in IOJK and are mercilessly killing innocent Kashmiris, he said, adding that only recently 4 young Kashmiris were martyred in Shopian.

Masood Khan said that during this period of lockdown, RSS and BJP leaders and Indian military commanders have crafted three lies against Pakistan: first, that Pakistan is pushing corona patients to Azad Kashmir; second that Pakistan is sending the coronavirus patients to the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir; and the third lie that Pakistan is sending militants across the LOC. He condemned the peddling of these lies by India and said that they have done so to hide their war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied territory. He urged that we must unite and call out these propagandists who are spreading these baseless and malicious rumours.

He also strongly condemned the indiscriminate firing across the Line of Control under the excuse of insurgency from AJK. He said these claims are baseless and the world must take notice of these egregious ceasefire violations.

The AJK President said that while the world is fighting the coronavirus, the Indian government has implemented its Domicile Rule in IOJK so as to settle Indians from all over India in IOJK, grab the Kashmiris land, their employment and their educational seats. “This is a challenge for us and it’s our responsibility to keep the Kashmir issue alive on the international agenda. We must revive the communication bonanza given to us by the international media”, he said.

The President strongly endorsed the steps taken by the AJK government and commended the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations in tackling the coronavirus outbreak. However, he said, challenges remain and that can be only resolved in close consultation and coordination of all stakeholders and the government of Pakistan.