Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to address a public rally in Kotli, near the Line of Control (LoC), on February 5, in honour of the Kashmir Solidarity Day, it was revealed yesterday.
According to a statement from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Khan met his party’s chief organiser Saifullah Niazi and former Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) premier Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry.
The PTI’s statement said that Chaudhry, who is also the president of the party’s AJK chapter, and Niazi “called on the prime minister at Islamabad” for a meeting, wherein Khan “announced to visit Kotli LoC on February 5 and will address a gathering”.
The groundbreaking ceremony of a housing programme for AJK would be held soon, it added, and Prime Minister Khan would visit also the Kotli portion of the LoC.
In addition, Chaudhry and Niazi also apprised the prime minister on the PTI’s election campaign and strategy in the Himalayan region, with the former thanking Khan for issuing the ruling party’s flagship national health card in his hometown.
The prime minister told the two leaders to “develop a clear strategy for the election campaign”.
“I want a good message to be given in occupied Kashmir,” he told them.
Meanwhile, following a telephone conversation between Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazlur (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the venue for the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) opposition alliance’s Kashmir Day rally has been moved from Rawalpindi to AJK.
A delegation of senior PML-N leaders, including AJK Premier Raja Farooq Haider and former Pakistan prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, had called on Rehman, who is also the PDM chief, following Sharif’s call.
The decision to move the venue from Rawalpindi to AJK was finalised after the meeting and reportedly on the request of the PML-N, which is hosting the February 5 political gathering.
Earlier this month, Rehman had announced that the PDM would hold a Kashmir Day rally at Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh to “show solidarity with the Kashmiri people”.
While the stated intention of the rally seemed benign, the announcement was seen as a “thinly-veiled” power move, as it came despite the military saying that it saw “no reason” for the opposition alliance to march towards Rawalpindi.
It may be noted that Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director-general Major-General Babar Iftikhar had said in a January 11 press briefing that he did not see any reason for the PDM to head to Rawalpindi – the city where Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters is located.
“If at all they want to come, we will take care of them. Serve them tea [chai paani]. What more can I say,” the head of the military’s media wing had reportedly said.
The ISPR chief had stated – in what seemed to be a reference to the PDM’s brinkmanship – that the military is simply doing its job and would respond to criticism only when it feels that the criticism is based on fact or holds some weight.
“We are pre-occupied and do not want to get involved in such things, nor will we. We have stayed the course [and] we will stay the course,” he said.
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