Saudi envoy visits flood-ravaged area in Azad Kashmir

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Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan, visited Neelum Valley in Azad Kashmir to review the on-ground situation after devastating floods in the area on July 20, 2019 (Photo Courtesy: Saudi Embassy)
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Pakistan’s military officers and local authorities briefed Saudi ambassador, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, on the situation and made assessments on damages on July 20, 2019 (Photo Courtesy: Saudi Embassy)
Updated 21 July 2019

Saudi envoy visits flood-ravaged area in Azad Kashmir

  • Team from King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center accompanied Saudi envoy
  • Last week, heavy rains and flash floods killed at least 22 in Neelum Valley, a tourist hotspot

ISLAMABAD: Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Islamabad paid a visit to Pakistan’s Neelam Valley, the Saudi Embassy said on Saturday, after devastating flash floods in the northernmost region of Azad Kashmir killed dozens last week. 
The ambassador was accompanied by a team from King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) and discussed on-ground humanitarian requirements after reviewing severe damage and loss of life caused by the heavy monsoon rains. At least 22 people have reportedly died in the floods.
Pakistan’s military officers as well as local authorities briefed the envoy about assessments on damages.
Ahmed Raza Qadri, Minister for State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) told Arab News that flash floods
caused by a heavy cloudburst adversely impacted Leswa Village in the Neelum Valley on July 15, with more than 150 houses, shops and mosques impacted in the area.
Rescue teams comprising officials of district administration, disaster management authority and local police are conducting search and rescue operations in the area, Qadri added. 
According to the National Disaster Management Authority, (NDMA) the army is assisting the local administration in the rescue and recovery mission. Last week, the military’s media wing reported that 52 residents had been rescued. 
Neelam Valley is a popular tourist destination located near the Line of Control (LoC) — the de facto border that splits Kashmir between Pakistan and India.


Pakistan's support for Kashmiri cause unwavering, Raheel Sharif says in Riyadh

Updated 31 October 2020

Pakistan's support for Kashmiri cause unwavering, Raheel Sharif says in Riyadh

  • Pakistani embassy in Riyadh held a seminar on the human rights situation in Kashmiri territory to mark Kashmir Black Day
  • Kashmiri self-determination is not only a moral and legally justified right, former Saudi ambassador to Pakistan says

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif said that Pakistan supports the Kashmiri cause with an "unflinching resolve."

The general's comment came during a seminar, "Human Rights Situation in Kashmir: Implications for Regional Peace and Stability," organized by the Pakistani embassy in Riyadh to observe Kashmir Black Day on Thursday.

"Let it be known that every citizen of Pakistan stands united with the people of Kashmir and supports their struggle for freedom with an unflinching resolve," said Gen. Raheel Sharif, who now leads the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, a counterterrorist alliance of Muslim countries, which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia.

"The issue of Kashmir is very close to every Pakistani’s heart as we fully understand the cause and dynamics of this struggle right from the beginning. We have closely witnessed the sufferings of our Kashmiri brethren and appreciate their resolve and valor in pursuit of their goal and fundamental human rights."

Former Pakistan army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif participates in a seminar organized in Riyadh by the Pakistani embassy to observe Kashmir Black Day on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (Pakistan Embassy Riyadh via AN)

Kashmiri territory is divided between India and Pakistan, but both countries claim the region in its entirety. Crackdowns in the Indian-administered part have been escalating since August 2019, when New Delhi scrapped Articles 370 and 35A of the constitution, which gave Kashmiris limited autonomy and protected their domicile and employment rights.

If not reversed, the Indian regime's August move, Sharif said, will cause "further unrest in the region."

Saudi Arabia's former ambassador to Pakistan, Ali Awadh Asseri, who was one of speakers in the seminar, said that last year's change in Kashmir's status "through annexation and division of the internationally recognized disputed region," as well as subsequent lockdown and "enforced demographic shift currently underway" have aggravated the humanitarian crisis in the region.

"Kashmiri people are facing a more dangerous situation now as every passing day is marginalizing their political status and socio-economic space," he said during the seminar, as he recalled serving in Pakistan and leading Saudi relief efforts after an earthquake that devastated Kashmir in 2005.  

Saudi Arabia's former ambassador to Pakistan, Ali Awadh Asseri, participates in a seminar organized in Riyadh by the Pakistani embassy to observe Kashmir Black Day on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (Pakistan Embassy Riyadh via AN)

He said the relief could not reach the Indian-administered part of the territory, as New Delhi did not grant access. "We remember that Kashmir on the other side of LOC also faced devastating effects of the earthquake but could not do much due to lack of access by the Indian authorities."

"Kashmiri people want to live their lives according to their free will and India has denied this basic right and instead chosen the path of repression," Asseri added.

"The Kashmiri demand of self-determination is not only the moral right but also legally justified under UN security council resolutions."

India on Wednesday notified new laws that allow non-Kashmiris to buy land in the disputed region, rising concerns that the new regulation would dilute the Muslim-majority character of the region.

"Contrary to Indian claims of bringing development to the Kashmir valley, the real motive remains altering the demographics of the Muslim-majority territory," Islamabad's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Raja Ali Ejaz, told Arab News after the seminar.

He added that the Pakistani government remains "fully committed to the Kashmir cause."