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Simla pact hit Kashmir struggle, says Shahbaz

Shahbaz files Rs26bln defamation suit against Imran

LAHORE: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has termed Simla pact reached between India and Pakistan in 1972 a big mistake, saying it partially hurt the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle.

The statement invited criticism from the PPP whose then chairman and prime minister of the country, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and his Indian counterpart Indra Gandhi had signed Simla pact.

The agreement had resulted in release of some 90,000 Pakistani soldiers imprisoned by India following the 1971 war fought between the two South Asian neigbours.

“The Simla pact was a big mistake [on the part of Islamabad] as it dampened the spirit of the Kashmiris fighting for their freedom and hurt their movement though it never stopped in Kashmir,” Shahbaz Sharif told a conference on the India-held valley here on Thursday.

He said young Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani further strengthened the movement through his martyrdom and now Kashmiris were raising pro-Pakistan slogans everywhere in the valley.

“Someone should teach the CM Punjab what foreign policy is. He can’t possibly think mimicking SZAB [Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto] makes him a statesman,” tweeted PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

He was responding to a tweet by a party leader, Murtaza Solangi, who took pains to explain the Simla pact.

“There is nothing wrong with Simla agreement. One should (first) read the agreement before cirticising it,” said Mr Solangi, and lamented the criticism of the pact by Mr Sharif.

“It is sad and unfortunate that on a day like this Shahbaz Sharif chooses to criticise Simal pact and by extension ZAB.”Using the platform of the Kashmir conference, Shehbaz criticised the agitation politics of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and chided Imran Khan for “dividing” the nation at a time when blood was being shed in India-held Kashmir.

“The world is listening to India and not us on the Kashmir dispute because New Delhi has progressed financially,” he told the conference at the PML-N Secretariat in Model Town. “Therefore, it’s need of the hour to strengthen the country and forge unity among ranks and file of the nation. But on the one hand innocent blood is being spilled in Kashmir and on the other nation is being divided.”

Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Mujahid Kamran also spoke.

Mr Sharif said that instead of heading towards borders, talks of a sit-in were making the rounds to divide the nation. He called it a “2014-like conspiracy”, an indirect reference to PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek sit-downs in Islamabad.He offered Mr Khan to hold a joint rally on the India borders against atrocities in Kashmir.

He condemned Indian firing on the Line of Control, saying that it depicted frustration of New Delhi.

Mr Haider said at the Kashmir conference that only a strong and stable Pakistan could ensure the freedom of Kashmiris.

He said he wished the Sept 30 rally would have taken place at Wagah borders.

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