Why Kashmir is anxious over Imran Khan taking oath as Pakistan’s Prime Minister

Daily O

Why Kashmir is anxious over Imran Khan taking oath as Pakistan’s Prime Minister

The ground situation in the Valley is grim. There has been a spurt in the number of militant attacks.

SHUJA-UL-HAQ @shujauh

Pakistan’s new foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday, August 20, underlined that there was a need for “continued and uninterrupted” dialogue with India.

He also reiterated that the only way forward for the two neighbours was to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue.

Qureshi was sworn-in on Monday along with 15 other leaders from the newly elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s 21-member cabinet. Qureshi is an experienced hand and is currently the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s vice-chairman.

Speaking about Kashmir, the minister said, “We cannot turn our cheek. Yes, we have outstanding issues. Kashmir is a reality; it is an issue that both our nations acknowledge… We need a continued and uninterrupted dialogue. This is our only way forward.”

These comments have made many in Kashmir more anxious.

Kashmir is eagerly waiting to see what the change of guard in Pakistan would mean for the region. Wishing Imran Khan, Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “… Pray the new government led by Imran Khan is able to fulfil Jinnah sahibs vision and his dream of a naya Pakistan. People of Kashmir also hope that Mr Khan is instrumental in the resolution of our long-standing dispute and peace in the subcontinent.”

Many other leaders, both from the mainstream and separatist camps, voiced similar feelings after Khan formally took over as Prime Minister. Former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti during a recent rally in Srinagar appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to show a positive attitude towards Imran Khan’s peace utterances made during his first address to the nation after a resounding win in the elections. She asked Modi to reciprocate to Khan’s offer of friendship with positivity.

There is no clarity yet on what India’s policy towards Pakistan is going to be. People in Kashmir, however, are watching keenly. And there is a reason for it.

The ground situation in the Valley is grim. There has been a spurt in the number of militant attacks. There has also been a steady rise in the number of young Kashmiri men joining militancy despite scores of them getting killed in encounters.

Even after the imposition of governor’s rule little has changed on the ground. The hostilities between India and Pakistan have a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of the people living in the Valley. For the past few years, the impact of this has been visible not just in Kashmir but also in several border areas across the state.

There have been a number of casualties — both civilian as well as the military.

There is hardly anyone in the Valley who is not praying for the two countries to once again head towards the dialogue table so that at least a semblance of normality is restored on the ground.