Burhan Wani's death and a year of living dangerously

Sharif attacks India after Opposition ire

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. File photo.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. File photo.  

Pakistan’s political parties are looking to leverage the Kashmir issue in local elections in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

A day after the Pakistan Foreign Office reaction, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued a statement attacking India for the violence in Jammu and Kashmir. He accused the government of using “excessive and unlawful force” against civilians in the State to quell protests over the killing of Hizb-ul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, even as India accused Pakistan of having a “hand” in the recent violence.

“It is deplorable that excessive and unlawful force was used against the civilians who were protesting against the killing of Burhan Wani. Oppressive measures cannot deter the valiant people of Jammu and Kashmir from their demand of exercising their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions,” Mr. Sharif said in a statement released from his office.

The Foreign Office statemen called Burhan Wani a “Kashmiri leader” and termed his death an “extra-judicial killing”.

Speaking to journalists, Minister of State in the PMO, Jitendra Singh said Pakistan’s hand in the incident “was more evident” because of its statements and its past record of “perpetrating terrorism on Indian soil”.

“Therefore, there is a reason to believe, on the inputs which are available today, Pakistan's involvement in the recent episode,” Mr. Singh said.

Militant challenge

Mr. Singh’s comments came after Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin issued a joint statement calling for the Pakistan government to “openly support” Kashmiri protesters, and announcing plans for funeral prayers for Wani on Friday.

Mr. Sharif’s statement, issued shortly he returned to Lahore after undergoing a heart surgery in the U.K., marks an escalation in comments from across the border, and came less than a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Sharif spoke to each other on the occasion of Eid.

Observers say it is unusual for Mr. Sharif to issue a direct statement, suggesting that it is a reaction to criticism from Pakistan’s Opposition for his alleged closeness to Mr Modi, who has spoken with him frequently, including just before his surgery in London. Mr. Sharif has also been under attack for spending time away from the country for his surgery.

Other observers say the statement is linked more closely to upcoming elections in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) on July 21, with the new round of critical statements indicating that the protests in Kashmir will be fodder for the Pakistani political leadership during the election campaign.

Bilawal’s charge

On Monday, Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto accused Mr. Sharif of taking a “soft stand” on the Modi government and giving Mr. Modi a “certificate of friendship”. “Mr Sharif is jeopardising the Kashmir issue by building his association with the Indian prime minister,” Mr. Bhutto said in a statement reported in Dawn newspaper.

Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf chief Imran Khan, who also issued a statement, termed India’s actions “condemnable.” He has been addressing rallies in PoK where he attacked Mr. Sharif for “broken promises to Kashmiris.”

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 1:02:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Sharif-attacks-India-after-Opposition-ire/article14484977.ece

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