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SOURCE: DAWN

Senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday vowed that if his party came to power, it would “file a treason case against Imran Khan Niazi for bargaining away Kashmir”. Addressing a gathering of party workers at Kashmir House Islamabad on the occasion of the PML-N Kashmir’s founding day, Iqbal said after the formation of Pakistan, India had “occupied the land of our Kashmiri brothers and sisters” but the United Nations had designated it as a disputed territory.

“Since then, no Indian government had the courage to change the disputed status of the territory. But on Aug 5, 2019, [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s government unilaterally changed it. [Before this] Pakistan had seen democratic governments, dictatorships [and] caretaker governments but India had never gotten the courage to change the status.”

Iqbal questioned whether Pakistan’s defence system had been “weakened so much” that Modi annexed the territory, alleging if that was not the case then Prime Minister Imran Khan had “bargained away” Kashmir in a meeting with United States President Donald Trump.

He further said that the armed forces of both countries kept track of the movement of troops in the others’ territory and the PM had been informed of India’s plans but he did not act on the advice of “intelligence agencies”.

“We have information that our intelligence agencies informed Imran that India had sent 200,000 troops into Kashmir and that [he] should tour Muslim countries and stop this atrocity but he did not since he was told flying over seas would bring him bad luck.”

Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval himself went to occupied Kashmir to oversee the situation before the annexation, Iqbal said, adding that India had also sent away all tourists from the occupied valley two months prior to the annexation. “They knew some operation was going to be carried out. Why did Imran Khan’s government keep quiet?” he asked.

“They kept being deaf and dumb and allowed India to annex [the territory],” claimed the PML-N leader.

He vowed that the PML-N would not bargain on the Kashmir issue.

“We will fight, our children will fight until we gain independence for Kashmir.

“[Imran Khan] Niazi is a traitor to Kashmir, he is a bargainer. I promise if we come into power, we will file a treason case against Niazi for bargaining away Kashmir,” he added.

The PML-N leader also repeated allegations that the 2018 elections were rigged, saying that “Punjab voted for PML-N but the vote was thrown in the waste basket and [Chief Minister Usman] Buzdar’s government was installed”.

Iqbal claimed that if the PML-N would have remained in power, there would have been nine industrial zones in the country today but “an inefficient government was brought into power and today economy, foreign policy and Pakistan’s poor have been destroyed.”

“We have to stop Pakistan from destruction. That’s why we have to separate this Niazi from Pakistan’s government,” he added.

‘India strikes because of weak govt’

Speaking after Iqbal, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz expressed sympathy with the people of Kashmir, saying that “when your sons are martyred, our souls are hurt.”

“When due to Imran Khan’s ineptitude and incompetence, Kashmir falls into Modi’s lap, and Pakistan loses cases of Kashmir, then the whole of Pakistan is wounded.”

She claimed that it was because of Imran Khan’s “weak government” that India had gotten the courage to annex the disputed territory.

“When a weak prime minister comes into power who doesn’t come with people’s power and votes […] when there is a weak government, then an enemy like India strikes.

“When there is a government like that of Mian Nawaz Sharif then someone like Modi himself walks and comes [to Pakistan]. This is the difference between a real and fake prime minister. This is why it is necessary to give respect to the vote.”

The PML-N vice president alleged that Prime Minister Imran had her arrested days before she was to leave for Kashmir after he “lost your case” because he was “afraid Maryam will expose my incompetence”. The reference for the case in which I was arrested has still not been filed, she added.

She said that her father and party supremo Nawaz’s voice had been “muffled” but his “struggle and his narrative” along with the people’s support had spread awareness of his message to every corner of the country.

“Nawaz Sharif is not just an ideology. His voice is booming in Pakistan today because behind his ideology is a history of service and actions.”

Maryam said that “God was proving Nawaz truthful and Imran Khan and his selectors are facing embarrassment on everything”.

‘No one speaking against army’

Maryam alleged that “no one speaks against the army because it is our institution”. She added that Prime Minister Imran had said he would “not allow anyone to speak against the army and file cases” against those who did.

“If you want to make a case on anyone speaking against the army, then there is Imran Khan’s history of 12 years. With what face do you say we [and] Nawaz talk against the army?” she questioned.

The country was prosperous when Nawaz was the prime minister, she said, adding that he had vowed to eliminate terrorism from the country and told the army “not to worry about money because the country was generating it”.

“The soldier at the frontier was content knowing that if I am sacrificing my life then the stove at my house will continue to burn.

“There are many honest and patriotic people in the Pakistan Army. Not all are Papa John’s, not everyone has haram income,” Maryam said.

“There are a great number of our soldier brothers who subsist only on their salaries […] This is such an unjust government that perhaps for the first time the salaries of soldiers have not been raised,” she added.

‘Sell-out of Kashmir’

This is not the first time that an opposition party has accused the PTI-led government of Imran Khan of “selling out Kashmir”.

Days after India’s annexation of Kashmir, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif accused the premier of selling the future of Kashmir and alleged that he was having members of the opposition arrested to distract attention from the Kashmir issue.

However, minister of state for parliamentary affairs, Ali Mohammad Khan, refuted the allegations and said Modi had flown to Pakistan to attend the wedding of ex-PM Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter. “It was not Imran Khan who had invited Modi, but you,” he added.

Earlier this year, opposition members also raised objections to the absence of Prime Minister Imran from a national consultation on the Kashmir situation at the Foreign Office. Talking to Dawn after the meeting, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman had regretted that the prime minister had been missing since last August and he did not have time to attend the meeting that had been called by the government itself to discuss an important national issue on the eve of August 5.

“Is Kashmir not an important enough issue for the prime minister?” she asked.