Pakistan ready for referendum in Kashmir – PM Khan

In this file photo, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan speaks during the Climate Action Summit 2019 in the United Nations General Assembly Hall September 23, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 18 January 2020

Pakistan ready for referendum in Kashmir – PM Khan

  • Khan criticized the Indian government for being influenced by RSS
  • Commercial interests prevent Western countries from stopping the lockdown of India-administered Kashmir, he told Deutsche Welle

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is ready for a referendum in Kashmir, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a Thursday interview with a German broadcaster.
“Let the people of Kashmir decide what they want. Pakistan is ready for a referendum or a plebiscite. Let them decide whether they want to remain with Pakistan or to be independent,” Khan told Deutsche Welle.
He said that Azad Kashmir – the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmiri territory – holds free and fair elections and, unlike the Indian-administered part, it is open for observers. “Let us invite observers from all over the world. I assure you that they can go to the Pakistan side of Kashmir but won’t be allowed on the Indian side.”
To resolve differences between Pakistan and India, the premier said, he had made an effort to talk to his counterpart Narendra Modi, but there was no positive response.
“In my first speech as prime minister (in 2018), I said that if India moved one step forward, we would take two steps toward them to resolve our differences. But I soon came to know that India did not respond well to my offer because of the RSS’ ideology,” Khan said, referring to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a nationalist Hindu paramilitary organization.
“It is a tragedy for India – and for its neighbors – that the country has been taken over by the RSS, an organization which also assassinated the great Mahatma Gandhi. A nuclear-armed country is being run by extremists, and Kashmir has been under siege for over five months,” he said.
In reference to India's lockdown of Kashmiri territory, Khan added that “unfortunately, commercial interests are more important for Western countries. India is a big market and that is the reason behind the lukewarm response to what is happening to some 8 million people in Kashmir, as well as to minorities in India.”
Meanwhile, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is in Washington, briefed US senators on the situation's implications for regional security.
“Peace and stability in South Asia would remain elusive until the Kashmir dispute was resolved in accordance with international law and the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” the Foreign Office quoted Qureshi in a statement released on Friday.


Jeddah consul general urges Pakistani community to comply with kingdom’s virus restrictions

Updated 19 min 44 sec ago

Jeddah consul general urges Pakistani community to comply with kingdom’s virus restrictions

  • Says appreciates Saudi government’s rules for safety against COVID-19 threat
  • Over 1,200 people have been infected in Saudi Arabia with four fatalities

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Consul General in Jeddah, Khalid Majid said on Thursday he urged the Pakistani community to “strictly comply” with precautionary measures put in place by Saudi authorities to curb the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement, the Consul General extended his best wishes to the Pakistani community residing in the western region of the Kingdom in the wake of the outbreak of the global pandemic which has so far claimed four lives in Saudi Arabia with 1,203 confirmed cases.
“I also request the community to remain calm and continue praying to Almighty Allah for His mercy,” Consul General Majid said.
“I would like to extend my deep appreciation and complete support to the Saudi government’s proactive and effective measures to ensure safety and protection of its citizens and residents against COVID-19 threat,” the statement read, and added the consulate would remain accessible round the clock to the Pakistani community for information and guidance.
The Kingdom has called on citizens to adhere to social distancing measures by staying at home during the curfew applied throughout the country. 
Saudi police arrested four citizens in Riyadh who violated the curfew set in place to curb the spread of the virus, state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.