In their eagerness to prove loyalty to their party leadership, following the Supreme Court verdict, Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman seemed to have lost their senses when they addressed a joint news conference to express their anger over outgoing prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification. Raja Farooq attempted to link the issue – a purely domestic matter of Pakistan – with the Kashmiri struggle for independence from India, saying Kashmiris would have to rethink whether or not to align with Pakistan. Although, he later claimed his statement was distorted by the media, as per his own clarification what he said was that the Kashmiris are uncertain about siding with Pakistan after Sharif’s disqualification. Which is not any different from the remarks earlier attributed to him by the media. Rehman had gone on to cross the line further to malign the judiciary and military as he termed the verdict as ‘fixed’ and a ‘rebellion’. As heads of government in their respective domains, these gentlemen are expected to know that like any other person they are entitled to criticise a court verdict on merit, but no one has the right to insult the judiciary.
Then there is the question, where do these two personages derive the right to speak on behalf of all Kashmiris? They surely cannot be speaking for the people in Occupied Kashmir. Those laying down their lives for freedom from Indian rule are wrapping the bodies of their martyrs in Pakistani flags. Although in AJK and GB the PML-N (there is a question mark now on the suffix N) is in power, it is not the only player. Previous governments in the immediate past were headed by the PPP while the PTI is also making its presence felt in both places. These parties are furious. At a joint news conference in Gilgit, they demanded registration of FIRs against Raja and Rehman for their ‘derogatory’ comments against the judiciary and military. And PPP President Asif Ali Zardari issued a strong condemnatory statement posing a very pertinent question, “how can the UN resolutions and the inalienable right of Kashmiris to self-determination be bartered away with the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif by a judicial process?”
Regardless of the political events in this country, no single political party, especially the one not known to have pursued a proactive policy on the Kashmir issue, has the prerogative to pronounce what all Kashmiris think or want. By their gratuitous utterances about the Kashmir question and against this country’s judiciary the AJK Prime Minister and the GB Chief Minister have hurt the sentiments of the Kashmiris as well as a vast majority of Pakistanis, unwittingly embarrassing their own party. They need to apologize for their utterly unacceptable remarks.