Despite their political rivalry towards each other, mainstream political parties in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), including the ruling PPP, Muslim Conference, PML-N, PTI and JI, seem to be in agreement when it comes to taking on India. Such feelings, which are routinely evoked for the neighbouring state, have become rampant in the backdrop of the ongoing unrest in Indian-administered Kashmir.
As political activity in Azad Kashmir gathers momentum ahead of the general polls, political parties are also engaged in a self-righteous campaign, ridiculing each others’ rivals, often by hurling unsavoury accusations.
“India is our worst enemy. It has hurt us in every way imaginable. It has denied us … reaching out to … our jugular vein, the occupied Kashmir,” said outgoing premier Chaudhry Abdul Majeed at a recent poll campaign rally in his home constituency of Mirpur. Chaudhry is PPP’s frontline candidate from the area.
Elsewhere in Mirpur city, Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry, Majeed’s former party colleague, roared: “When the PTI is voted to power, we will ensure that the Indians pay in full … for using excessive force against Kashmiris.” Chaudhry, a former premier of AJK, exhorted: “My heart bleeds when I see the inability of submissive rulers in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan to respond to Indian aggression.”
This rhetoric created an awkward situation for the ruling PML-N given that the party’s leadership in Pakistan is known for having a ‘soft corner’ for the Narandra Modi government.
The Express Tribune has learnt on authority that PML-N’s Azad Kashmir chapter was instructed by the party’s high command to stay firm on anti-Indian stance in its election campaign, without ‘crossing the line’. This probably explains why PML-N Azad Kashmir’s chief Raja Farooq Haider initially devoted most of his electoral campaign to cursing the ruling PPP in Azad Kashmir, instead of talking about external factors.
But escalating political temperature in the region has left Haider with no other option but to show some grit by demonstrating animosity towards the neighbouring country. “Let us come to power … then see the Indians rotting in hell,” the veteran N-Leaguer recently told his supporters in Muzaffarabad. “You will see how honourable nations deal with their enemies.”
Haider, who is also a former prime minister, however, dispelled the impression that PML-N’s Azad Kashmir chapter had been barred by the party top leadership from adopting ‘too tough’ a stance on India.
“Needless to say, our party is a party of patriots. This is the party that created Pakistan. All patriots love to hate India. We do not need any licence of patriotism,” he told The Express Tribune.
Terming the hard-hitting speeches against India by other political parties political rhetoric, the PML-N veteran said: “When I was the premier, I took on India the way no one did. Actions speak louder than words. Time will tell whose words materialise into action … It is just a matter of time…. You just wait and see.”
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