"PoJK was, is and always will be part of India": EAM S Jaishankar amid ongoing protests in Muzaffarabad

MUMBAI: Amid the intensified protest against the Pakistan government in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday reiterated India's stand on merging the illegally occupied region and said that "one day we will end the illegal occupation of the POK and the POK will join with India."

"These days, a lot of things are going on at the POK. You must have seen some incidents happening there. Now, Modi government, we are very clear on this. Parliament's resolution, we are very clear that POK is a part of India. It is part of India, it was always part of India, it will be part of India," EAM said during a media interaction at a seminar on Indian Capital Markets 'Roadmap for Viksit Bharat' at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in Mumbai.

"And we definitely have this intention. that one day we will end the illegal occupation of the POK and the POK will join with India. Now you see that the opposition is in the opposite direction," he added.

The minister also questioned "who wanted to run Article 370, who was interested in it" referring to the criticism after Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was abrogated by the BJP-led government in August 2019.

"If I talk about the record, then in the last five years, one of our great achievements was on Article 370. And we will also say that the NDA's record and the NDA's thinking, the Modi government's thinking is that how to integrate Kashmir with the country, how to further develop Kashmir. On the other hand, you see who wanted to run Article 370, who was interested in it. So this is also a very clear choice in front of the country," he said.

EAM also commented on Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah remarks that "they (Pakistan) are also not wearing bangles" and will attack us, saying that leaders are so afraid of Pakistan's nuclear weapons that they believe India should not talk about PoJK with Pakistan.

"Farooq Abdullah reminds us not to talk about POK because Pakistan has nuclear weapons. We are proud of India's nuclear weapons. On the contrary, Pakistan's nuclear weapons seem to be more important. If it is Manish Shankar Iyer or Farooq Abdullah, they are so afraid of Pakistan's nuclear weapons that they think that we should not talk about POK. So I will say that whatever is the issue of security, we are on the side of CAA, our intention is to take CAA forward. They are the prisoners of the vote bank," he said.

"And from the beginning, the minorities who had to come to India from their neighbouring country, they were never worried about them. They never thought about the injustice done to them," he added.

The situation remained tense in PoJK on Monday as the total strike against high prices of wheat flour and inflated electricity bills and taxes entered its fourth day, with the Pakistan government stepping up efforts to de-escalate the situation following deadly clashes between security forces and protesters.

Amid a wheel-jam strike persisting for the fourth consecutive day in PoJK, a long march spearheaded by the Awami Action Committee (AAC) set off for the PoJK capital, Muzaffarabad, Geo News reported.

Protesters have already initiated sit-ins, effectively shutting down the Kohala-Muzaffarabad Road at various points along its 40-kilometer stretch, which connects Kohala town with Muzaffarabad in PoJK. Their route from Dhirkot is expected to lead them to the capital.

The PoJK government deployed Rangers and police following clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators in Mirpur. These clashes resulted in the death of a police officer and leftover 70 others injured.

Heavy police contingents have been stationed at key points and sensitive areas, while markets, trade centres, and educational institutions remain shuttered, and transportation services remain suspended.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called for a high-level meeting to address the ongoing situation in PoJK, as negotiations between protesters and the state government reached an impasse, according to Geo News.


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