ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday did not out-rightly reject merger of Azad Jammu Kashmir into the federation as it announced to launch a countrywide campaign on the Kashmir issue from tomorrow (January 25).

Speaking at a news conference here, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan will spearhead the campaign.

Quershi said on directives of PM Khan, the campaign would be launched across the country to show solidarity with Kashmiri people who were put under siege by Indian government since August 5, 2019.

Special Assistant to PM on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan, Communication Minister Murad Saeed and Senator Faisal Javed Khan flanked the FM at the media interaction.

Foreign Minister Qureshi was asked why Pakistan cannot merge AJK because Islamabad always claims Kashmir is Pakistan’s jugular vein. The FM replied: “I would say be careful.”

He condemned the illegal merger of held Kashmir into the Indian union in violation of all the international laws. He said regional peace and security was under threat due to India’s step of revoking the special status of Occupied Kashmir, adding Kashmiris were under military lockdown by the Indian government from past 172 days.

Questioned what US President Donald Trump can do on the Kashmir issue, he said the Trump can convince India not to go for false flag operation.

“Trump can tell them this would be a dangerous step. If they (India) go for it, we will have to respond. We had responded last February too,” he reminded.

Qureshi said Trump was concerned at the Kashmir situation when he met Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Trump said he was concerned about it. We (Pakistan) have raised the concerns and will continue to do so. India is not cooperating. India avoids third party engagement because it will be exposed,” he maintained.

Qureshi added PM Imran Khan had told President Trump during their meeting at Davos about the adverse effects of a confrontation between two nuclear powers.

He said the PM briefed the US president about the “complexities” of the Kashmir issue and urged Trump and the UN to intervene for a solution.

“The PM was very clear, he did not mince words,” he said, referring to PM Khan’s meeting with Trump in which the two leaders discussed the Kashmir issue. “PM Imran informed him about the dangers that the world faced if two nuclear powers confronted each other,” he elaborated.

The FM said Kashmiris were not disappointed with the efforts of Pakistan to resolve the longstanding issue. “Pakistan stands with Kashmiris. They are not disappointed with Pakistan. We will continue to stand with them,” he contended.

To a question, he said the entire India stood against the controversial citizenship amendment act that exposed the reality of so-called secular and democratic India before the world community.

FM Qureshi said the whole nation was united to raise the case of innocent Kashmiris on every international forum. About the schedule of the campaign, FM Qureshi said that a culture show would be held on January 27 in which Kashmir cause will be focused.

“Similarly, on January 28 a photo exhibition would be arranged across the country in which stories of Kashmiri people will be presented,” he continued.

The minister said a seminar on Kashmir issue would be held in Islamabad on January 30, while Kashmir Committee Chairman Syed Fakhar Imam will hold a news conference on January 31.

“A ceremony will be held in Convention Centre Islamabad on February 3 for youth in which ground realities and Kashmir issue will be raised effectively. Ration would be distributed at Azad Jammu and Kashmir refugee camps on the same day,” he added.

He said on February 4, Kashmir Day would be marked at the President’s House and on February 5, human chain would be formed in AJK and ‘Kashmir solidarity’ rallies will be held across the country.

“PM Imran Khan will address the AJK legislative assembly in Muzaffarabad as well as a public rally in Mirpur,” he said.

FM Qureshi said every fundamental right was being denied to the masses in occupied Kashmir and that Indian policies were reflective of its growing ‘unilateralism’ on the issue of occupied Kashmir.

Qureshi said as per the Simla Agreement, Pakistan and India were supposed to hold bilateral talks on Kashmir.

FM Qureshi said that Pakistan was successful in its efforts to highlight the issue of occupied Kashmir at the UN Security Council despite Indian efforts to ensure otherwise.

“Two briefings on the Kashmir issue were held (at the Security Council) and their summary was that whatever Pakistan was saying (about Indian atrocities) carries weight,” he said.

Earlier in a statement, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that Pakistan will ensure its interests regarding the CPEC and will continue to take measures in this regard.

He said Pakistan was resolutely trying to present its viewpoint in front of the world that there will be negative impacts over the regional economy if any conflict erupts in Kashmir or South Asia.

He stressed that “it is our responsibility to highlight the Kashmir and other local issues which Prime Minister Imran Khan has done.”

The FM said President Trump had assured to visit Pakistan soon to strengthen mutual ties. “Trump has also expressed concerns over the escalating unrest in Kashmir,” he added.