ISLAMABAD - Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah yesterday mocked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for ‘shifting’ the federal capital to Lahore for the special cabinet meeting on situation in the Indian Held Kashmir.

He was referring to the cabinet meeting in Lahore where PM Sharif announced to observe July 19 as ‘Black Day’ against the Indian excesses in Kashmir.

He said PM Sharif had called a special cabinet meeting on occupied Kashmir but was victimising political opponents in Azad Jammu Kashmir.

“There is a contradiction. The excesses against the political opponents in AJK should also be condemned like those in held Kashmir. The government is misusing its power to win in the state elections,” Shah said while speaking to journalists here.

He alleged the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz wanted to win the AJK polls at any cost and its workers were killing political workers to create unrest.

Shah offered PM Sharif to rule in AJK if he was dying for it but stop killing the opposition workers. “We don’t want our Kashmiris to face the brutal force too,” he remarked.

He said that PML-N might win elections through rigging in AJK but they will spread hatred across the region. He said AJK Minister Faisal Rathore was targeted in broad daylight in Islamabad which indicated the government was supporting such elements.

Shah criticised Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan over pro-coup banners displayed across the country. He said that Article 6 should be imposed on government officials who apparently were custodians of the constitution but did not take action against the elements involved in the controversial campaign.

“The interior minister should be held accountable if responsible people are not arrested soon. The banners’ issue is more sensitive than Panama Leaks (where the PM’s family has been accused of corruption). For four days these banners mocked the politicians in Islamabad. When we have their telephone numbers why don’t we arrest them,” Shah added.

The PPP leader said the government might itself be involved in the banners’ campaign which was stopping it from making any arrests.

Shah said he will meet Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on July 18 to discuss the election commission members’ and other issues.

Meanwhile yesterday, PPP leader Faisal Karim Kundi said PPP Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will address an election rally in Muzaffarabad today (Saturday). He said the PPP will win the elections in AJK if there was no rigging as public response was enormous.

Separately yesterday, PPP’s Senator Sherry Rehman urged the government to stop dithering on matters of vital strategic and foreign policy importance by re-instituting the National Security Committee of parliament that was in place during the last PPP government.

She made this statement while placing an adjournment motion in the Senate to discuss the ‘tardiness’ of Islamabad’s response to the unchecked killing and violent oppression of Kashmiris in Indian-held territory.

“There seems to be no diplomatic strategy that Islamabad has in place other than routine condemnation of the brutal military containment of generational misery in Indian held Kashmir, where a long history of serial Indian genocide must be raised forcefully by an active and full-time Foreign Minister of Pakistan at several international forums including the UN,” the Senator said.

“We understand that there is no Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to do the needful but Pakistan should by now have requested a meeting of the UN Human Rights Committee at the very least! Recourse to the EU parliament is also important, given that they have a strong human rights focus in Brussels, and a clear interest in upholding fundamental rights, including the rights of the trampled Kashmiris,” she added.

Regretting the marginalisation of parliamentary committees by the federal government in the pursuit of national goals, she said it was high time Pakistan at least tried to tap members of the relevant UN committees for a meeting in the mandatory time it takes to convene one even at the members ask. “It is bad enough that Pakistan lost the membership of this vital UNHR Committee, but we do have friends still holding their memberships,” she added. “Surely clear high level lobbying should have been undertaken by now with key governments to puncture the iron curtain that India maintains on controlling the Kashmiri narrative,” asked the PPP leader.

She said the fact that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had made his own statement signals the gravity of the current implosion in Indian-held Kashmir after Burhan Wani’s murder amid scores of other killings and state-sponsored violence sprees. 

“Pakistan's Foreign Minister should be on the phone, and shuttling between Brussels, Geneva and New York by now. The famous Kashmir Committee of the NA should have used its extensive tours to report back to parliament on years of Indian brutality, while the once-active National Security Committee of parliament still does not exist,” she said.

The PPP Vice President said it shocked many that this government thought policy can be run on auto-pilot or by executive power only. “This naturally shrinks the circle of expertise they can use on matters of key public importance, and puts Pakistan on the back foot,” she remarked.