MUZAFFARABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday said that all Kashmiris have rejected India’s decision to annex the occupied valley on August 5 last year, stressing that while New Delhi has been able to suppress Kashmiris’ voices, their “minds remain free”. His remarks came during a visit to the Chirikot sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Qureshi, who was accompanied by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf, Pakistan Army officers and media personnel, was briefed about India’s ceasefire violations from across the dividing line. Speaking to a gathering of people living in villages along the LoC, Qureshi said Indian border troops targeted unarmed and innocent civilians with their bullets “We salute your courage that despite the suffering, you remain at your places, your morale remains high and you haven’t left your homes and moved. This is your commitment and your connection with this valley,” he told the residents. “The victory will be yours, because you stand for truth. This world acknowledges that,” he said, but added: “It is a different matter that they become silent due to expediencies and trade interests.” He said no Kashmiri was ready to accept India’s decision to annex occupied Kashmir. “They are restricted and locked up … but minds and hearts cannot be locked up,” he added. Qureshi said Pakistan would raise voice for the Kashmiris at every international forum and highlight their plight at the hands of Indian security forces. He emphasised that the Pakistani nation, military and political leadership had a consensus on the resolution of the Kashmir issue. “Prime Minister Imran Khan as an ambassador of Kashmir and I myself as a foreign minister are fighting your case at every forum,” he said, adding that every effort would be made to “shake the conscience of the world”. The minister noted that India was giving a false impression about the resumption of normalcy in occupied Kashmir. “If the situation is normal then why are the bodies of martyrs not being returned? It is because they are afraid of the reaction,” he said, adding that New Delhi had deployed 900,000 troops in the region for the same reason. “They are degenerating psychologically, while you are winning this fight with determination,” Qureshi said. He told the villagers that the Kashmir Highway in Islamabad had been renamed as the Srinagar Highway “because our destination is Srinagar”. He said the day was not far when Kashmiris “will offer prayers of gratitude at Srinagar’s Jamia mosque”. Following the visit, SAPM Yusuf said he was “so proud of our armed forces for defending Kashmiris against constant Indian aggression and CFVs (ceasefire violations)”. He paid tribute to the resolve of the victims of the Indian firing to “support the goal of their Kashmiri brethren for self-determination and liberation from illegal Indian occupation”. “I appeal to the entire nation to join in solidarity with our Kashmiri brothers and sisters in IIOJK on #YoumeIstehsal. If they keep suffering, we keep suffering,” he tweeted. The ministerial visit to the LoC comes as the world prepares to mark one year on Wednesday since India revoked the semi-autonomous status of occupied Kashmir and split it into two federal territories, causing further deterioration in New Delhi’s ties with Islamabad. Last week, the government had called for observing the first anniversary of occupied Kashmir’s annexation on August 5 as Yaum-i-Istehsal (Day of Exploitation) with full enthusiasm as it rolled out a range of activities planned for the occasion.
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