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SOURCE: HT

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir leader Raja Farooq Haider on Monday said the sedition case filed against him and leaders of the Pakistan Muslim Leage-Nawaz had “hurt” him and vowed to present himself in handcuffs if he is summoned by the Imran Khan government. The case was registered against Raja Farooq Haider, the so-called prime minister of PoK, as part of a crackdown on opposition leaders ahead of their planned joint rally and nationwide protest movement later this month. The protests are seen as the worst crisis being faced by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Last Monday, sedition cases were registered against ousted former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and PoK ‘PM’ Raja Farooq Haider. The same day, a court in Islamabad charged former president Asif Ali Zardari in two corruption cases.

The case against Haider had particularly riled political circles in Pakistan, as Khan often attempts to portray himself as the saviour of Kashmir and Kashmiris.

Journalist Hamid Mir had said in a tweet that Khan “always claimed to be an ambassador of Kashmiris,” while slamming the move.

Khan has repeatedly blamed India for the opposition’s moves against his government and their criticism of the overbearing role played by the country’s military leadership, which Nawaz Sharif had described as a ‘state above the state’.

In an interview to Geo New channel on Monday, the PoK ‘PM’ specifically blamed Imran Khan for the case against him. A sedition case can only be filed on the instructions of the prime minister, Haider told the channel, noting that even Fatima Jinnah, known as Pakistan’s Mader-e-Millat (Mother of the Nation), had once been dubbed a traitor. That tradition continues, he said.

Haider also lamented the statement by Khan, who branded most leaders of the 11-party opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement, as agents of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Imran Khan has also attempted to link New Delhi to the continuing sectarian violence in the country.

Haider said Imran Khan’s move would weaken the ‘federation’ of Pakistan.

“To file sedition charges against opposition party leaders or to brand them traitors is wrong and hurtful,” he said.

Haider said that politics was being given precedence over Pakistan, adding people of PoK “had tremendous respect for the Pakistan PM but such statements create uncertainty.”

Haider’s comments came even as the federal government continued to insist that the sedition cases were registered not at the instance of the state or its institutions, but on a complaint by a private citizen.

Over the weekend, information minister Shibli Faraz said neither Khan, not his government were involved in the registration of the cases.