ISLAMABAD: (Raja Furqan Ahmed) Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Shehryar Khan Afridi on Monday accused the leadership of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for putting Kashmir cause on the backburner and using Chairmanship of Kashmir Committee as ‘bargaining chip’ to PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Addressing a press conference here at the PID along with Kashmiri activists, Shehryar Afridi shared with media the 10-year performance of his predecessor, Maulana Fazlur Rehman as Chairman Kashmir Committee, and accused him of compromising the Kashmir cause for vested interests. Flanked by APHC leader Nabila Irshad, Dr Wilayat Hussain and Dr Mujahid Gilani, Afridi said that during a 10-year tenure as Kashmir Committee Chairman, Maulana Fazlur Rehman spent Rs 463 million out of the allocated amount of Rs 474 million but did literally nothing for the Kashmir cause. “During the past ten years, the committee met only 24 times and 62 press releases were issued under the Maulana. Hence, each press release cost Pakistani exchequer 76 lakh. Only one press release was issued in two months precisely,” he added. Afridi said that the Maulana did not hold even a single meeting with the foreign dignitaries to lobby on Kashmir in ten long years and when Maulana Fazlur Rehman was supposed to visit Europe in 2016 as part of lobbying after Burhan Wani’s martyrdom, Ijaz-ul-Haq had to lead a 22-member parliamentary delegation as the Maulana did not join the delegation. Similarly, he added, the Maulana was not available to present a memorandum to the UN representative in Pakistan on the first anniversary of Burhan Wani’s martyrdom in 2017, and Ijaz-ul-Haq had to do the same with a delegation. “Due to consistent reluctance of the Maulana to speak on Indian forces massacre in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, a sub-committee headed by Ijaz-ul-Haq was formed to deal with Kashmir diplomacy. The Maulana, however, kept enjoying perks as Kashmir Committee Chairman,” he added. “The manner in which the opposition parties have been waging a political circus for the last three days by using Kashmir dispute for personal gains is is unfortunate, sad and worrying,” he said. On the one hand, he added, Kashmiris are proud to bury their martyrs wrapped in Pakistani flags. “Since taking office, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to act as Kashmir’s ambassador and has taken the Kashmir issue out of the cold and made it the focus of UN General Assembly (UNGA) and global debate,” he said. He said due to effective diplomacy, the Kashmir dispute was raised in the UNGA for three times after 55 years which is unprecedented success in our foreign policy front. The sacrifices of Kashmiris and Imran Khan’s advocacy have internationalized the Kashmir dispute and today Kashmir has become a major issue in international forums, he added.
Afridi said that fearing defeat, the opposition is now fighting its last battle for survival. “After being rejected by the people and convicted by the courts, now the opposition has taken to the streets to take the country away from the path of development. But inshallah, this time too, defeat is their destiny,” he added. These three parties ruled the country for forty to fifty years and kept Kashmir in the cold. Maulana Fazlur Rehman was the head of the Kashmir Committee for ten years but he never raised Kashmir in any forum. Despite the worst performance of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the Kashmir Committee was used as a political bribe and the Nawaz League and the People’s Party kept Kashmir in the cold. Since Maulana Fazlur Rehman is now also the head of PDM and last night as the PPP and Nawaz League speakers accused Imran Khan of bargaining for Kashmir, I thought it appropriate to put some facts before the nation.