Nawaz Sharif: A Pioneer of Kashmir Solidarity Day
Sardar Abdul Khaliq Wasi;
Kashmir Solidarity Day has now become a tradition. For the last 33 years, the government of Pakistan has been consistently expressing solidarity with the people of Kashmir. When the mass uprising arose in Kashmir, the people of Pakistan decided to celebrate this day to pay homage to the Kashmiris’ struggle and espouse their right to self-determination. The day started being celebrated as Kashmir Solidarity Day on the appeal of the then AmeerJammat-e-Islami Qazi Hussain Ahmed. Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto the then Prime Minister of Pakistan and Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the then Chief Minister Punjab, showed their full support to celebrate it as a national day. All political, religious, social and professional organizations, without exception, took part in it. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has a special connection and cordiality with Kashmir no matter whether he is in the government or in the opposition. Kashmir has always been very closer to his heart and soul. When he became the Prime Minister for the third time, if there is one area that has been visited by him the most other than Lahore, it was Azad Kashmir. Azad Kashmir is the base camp of Kashmir movement. Its development and prosperity has been a dream of Nawaz Sharif. He has always been very passionate and committed for the development of this region. He tried to awaken the conscience of the international community. But it is unfortunate that after having passed seven decades, the issue has not been resolved. Addressing a joint meeting of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council in 2016 as Prime Minister, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had said that Pakistan has a distinct relationship with Kashmir and no Pakistani can ever forget Kashmir. The United Nations should be accountable to the people as to why it has failed to implement its resolutions on Kashmir issue. Non-implementation of the UN resolutions questions the credibility of this international body. If some of the resolutions are implemented before their ink dries and some are not implemented even after years have passed, then the world forum will have to think about the prestige and credibility as a global body meant to resolve international disputed? Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said that the people of the Occupied Kashmir are demanding the right as pledged by the United Nations. The people of Kashmir want implementation of the UN resolutions. Nawaz Sharif maintained that history is once again calling for the leadership of Pakistan and India to do the needful. It is not uncommon between the countries that differences do exist but it is an utter failure that the dispute over half a century and yet to be resolved. He said that Pakistan was most affected by terrorism in the world but still for peace in the region we are ready to discuss with India on every issue including Kashmir issue and terrorism. The solution to all our problems, he believed, lies only in dialogue. Pakistan wants peace in the region and is ready to take every step for it but remember that Kashmir is also part of this region, Pakistan and India have to make a choice between peace and war. Every stakeholder in the region must recognize people’s right to freedom. Today South Asia needs fresh way of looking at things particularly the conflicts that hampered the progress of South Asia. Attention of India’s leadership has also been drawn to the Kashmir and other bilateral issues to be resolved only through dialogue but unfortunately to no avail. Both the countries should think about the issues people of both the countries are facing. As far as the development and prosperity of Azad Kashmir is concerned, the contributions of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif cannot be ignored. His commitment to the development of Azad Kashmir reflects how much concerned he about the prosperity of Kashmiris. He once said that “my love for Kashmir is not hidden from anyone, we want to continue the process of development of Kashmir in the future as well. It is the right of the people of Azad Kashmir to have progress. He said that we all believe in working for the welfare of the state of Pakistan, we should forget our differences and work for the development of the country, I want the opposition to play a positive and constructive role.” Announcing Rs250 million for development works in Azad Kashmir, Nawaz Sharif said that he wanted to build a railway line to Islamabad and Muzaffarabad, Mirpur to Muzaffarabad Expressway and other needs of Azad Kashmir. Nawaz Sharif has always been striving for the development and prosperity of Azad Kashmir and for the cause of Kashmiris to be represented internationally and nationally. When Mohammad Nawaz Sharif was ousted from power due to a decision of the Supreme Court, he visited Muzaffarabad on February 5, 2017 with not only himself but also his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif and expressed solidarity with Kashmiris saying, “the bullet that hits Kashmiris hits me in the chest.” Even when Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was the Chief Minister of Punjab, Kashmir was one of his top priorities and when he was the Prime Minister of Pakistan three times Kashmir has been at the top of list of his priorities. Kashmir runs in his blood. There is no chance that Kashmir gets eclipsed in his vision. Nawaz Sharif would visit Muzaffarabad in all times of catastrophes and disasters.
Credit also goes to Nawaz Sharif for doubling the development funds for the development of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. In the summer, he traveled by car on the dilapidated roads from Bhimber to Athmaqam to show solidarity with the Kashmiris. This year on the eve of Kashmir Solidarity Day Nawaz Sharif has once again instructed the leadership and workers of the Muslim League to observe it with full zeal and zest.Kashmiri leaders on both sides of the border are grateful to Muhammad Nawaz Sharif for always showing solidarity with the people of Kashmir in times of joy and sorrow. The writer is a former member of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council.