KHANEWAL/ MULTAN: [fbvideo link="https://www.facebook.com/etribune/videos/2325538360896067/"][/fbvideo]
In the wake of the UAE bestowing its highest civilian award on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday said the Gulf state stood by Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir and he was hopeful that its leadership would not disappoint Islamabad once it was presented with facts about New Delhi’s atrocities in the occupied valley.
“We must understand that the UAE and India enjoy good bilateral relations with thousands of Indian expatriates working in the Gulf country. We will have to look at international ties without taking sentiments into account,” he told the media in his hometown Multan.
“However, Pakistan also enjoys cordial relations with the UAE and once we present the facts to them [about India scrapping occupied Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status and imposing a lockdown there], I am hopeful that they won’t disappoint us.”
India PM Modi awarded UAE’s highest civilian honour
On Saturday, Modi was awarded the Order of Zayed medal by the UAE's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi “reinforcing ties between the two countries”.
The Indian prime minister was honoured by the Gulf state amid a brutal lockdown in occupied Kashmir in place since August 4, a day before New Delhi revoked the disputed territory’s special status, which prevented outsiders from purchasing land and settling there.
India’s heavy restrictions on movement and a communication blackout in the occupied valley continued for the 21st consecutive day on Sunday.
At least 200 people have been injured in sporadic protest demonstrations despite a strict curfew in place with the presence of over 800,000 Indian troops in the occupied valley.
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani has also cancelled his pre-scheduled trip to the UAE, saying it would hurt the feelings of Kashmiris.
Senate chairman cancels UAE visit after Modi honoured
Earlier talking to the media in Khanewal, the foreign minister, citing recent statements by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Iran, Turkey and Malaysia, said Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts were gradually convincing the international community, including the Muslim world, that India was committing human rights violations in IOK.
“There are perturbing reports coming in from the occupied valley. There’s food shortage and children are suffering. If anyone violates the curfew, Indian forces use pellets guns on them,” he added.
“Doctors have also confirmed that there is a shortage of medicines in the disputed territory. The curfew [in IOK], which has now entered its 21st day, must be lifted to prevent a major humanitarian crisis.”
Referring to the treatment meted out to the Indian media at Srinagar airport on Saturday, Qureshi said he now expected that journalists across the border to wake up and highlight the human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.
“Indian claims to be the world’s largest democracy. But its true face was exposed when it did not even allow its own opposition leaders to enter Srinagar on Saturday,” he added.
The foreign minister hoped that the Indian Supreme Court would not succumb to the Modi government’s pressure and deliver justice when deciding a petition challenging the August 5 move.
Qureshi said Pakistan would continue supporting Kashmiris and all political parties in the country were on the same page on the issue.
“A joint session of the Kashmir and Foreign committees will be held next week,” he added.
The minister also announced that Pakistan would open the Kartarpur Corridor from September 11 allowing pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal. “Members of the Sikh community across the world should prepare to visit Pakistan,” he added.