Pakistan govt not to merge AJK region with Pakistan: FO


ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday categorically rejected rumours that the government intended to merge Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) region with mainland Pakistan.

“There is no such proposal under consideration,” FO spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said at the weekly media briefing.

The speculation about the merger had been doing the rounds for a little over six weeks now. It started with comments attributed to AJK Prime Minister Farooq Haider Khan that he had been told that he would be the last prime minister of the autonomous region. The rumours grew after the AJK government renamed one of the bureaucracy’s service group.

There were also rumours about the change in the status of Gilgit-Baltistan. The spokesperson dismissed that too as “media speculation”.

India annexed occupied Kashmir in August 2019 and since then there have been assumptions that Pakistan too may change the status of the region in view of repeated threats from India.

Ms Farooqui said “unfortunately, it has become a pattern for the Indian leadership to create a war hysteria and jingoistic environment against Pakistan and its people”.

A day earlier, the Foreign Office, through a press release, rejected as irresponsible an assertion made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Indian armed forces could defeat Pakistan in 7 to 10 days in the event of a war. Mr Modi was reminded of the response to the aerial incursion in the aftermath of Pulwama stand-off last year when Indian Air Force lost two jets and one of its pilots was captured by Pakistani security forces.

“These remarks are another reflection of India’s incurable obsession with Pakistan and the BJP government and its leadership’s desperate attempts to divert attention from the growing domestic and international criticism of their discriminatory, anti-Kashmir and anti-minority policies. No one should underestimate the resolve of the people and armed forces of Pakistan to effectively thwart any aggressive action,” she said.

In reply to a question about the government’s campaign on Kashmir issue in the wake of upcoming Kashmir Solidarity Day on Feb 5, she said the drive would highlight Indian government’s atrocities and human rights violations in India-held Jammu and Kashmir.

“The plan includes activities inside Pakistan as well as abroad. This is an ongoing process and national effort. Our missions in more than a hundred countries are planning a comprehensive strategy regarding the upcoming Kashmir Solidarity Day and the awareness campaign is not only restricted to Pakistan,” she said.

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