India rebuts Pak's 'prison' Kashmir claims at UNHRC

Photo: Twitter/ANI

India on Tuesday called Pakistan an “epicentre of global terrorism” as it dismissed its western neighbour's allegation at the United Nations Human Rights Council that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government in New Delhi had turned Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into “the largest prison” of the world.

The second day of the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva witnessed a war of words between India and Pakistan over J&K. Pakistan termed India's recent decision on J&K as “illegal” because it sought to alter the status of what the UN Security Council (UNSC) recognized as a “disputed territory”. India countered, insisting that its recent legislative measures on J&K were its “sovereign decisions”, well within the framework of its Constitution.

“No country can accept interference in its internal affairs, certainly not India,” Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East) at the headquarters of the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, said, as she presented the “national statement” of India.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, himself, led the tirade against India. “The people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir are apprehending the worst....I shudder to mention the word Genocide here, but I must,” Qureshi said, urging the UNHRC to “pay heed to the plight of the Kashmiris and address the warning signs of a looming human catastrophe.” He went on to call Modi Government in New Delhi “a murderous, misogynistic, and xenophobic regime”, posing “grave threats” to lives of Kashmiris.

Singh dismissed Pakistan's “offensive rhetoric of false allegations and concocted charges” against India. “The world is aware that this fabricated narrative comes from the epicentre of global terrorism, where ring leaders were sheltered for years. This nation conducts cross-border terrorism as a form of ‘alternate diplomacy',” she said.

India also exercised its “Right to Reply” to counter allegations by Foreign Minister of Pakistan. Vimarsh Aryan, First Secretary at New Delhi's Permanent Mission to UN in Geneva, told the UNHRC that Modi Government's recent decisions cut the very ground from under the feet of Pakistan, as they created “obstacles” for the neighbouring country in continuing “sponsorship of cross border terrorism” against India.

Qureshi earlier called upon the UNHRC to urge India to stop use of pellet guns in J&K, end bloodshed, lift curfew and communications blackout, release political prisoners and stop targeting human rights defenders. He also demanded that UNHRC should constitute a Commission of Inquiry to probe violation of human right of Kashmiris and ask India to give human rights organizations and international media “unhindered access” to J&K.

New Delhi rubbished Pakistan Foreign Minister's allegation that its recent decisions on J&K was aimed at turning Muslims, the majority community in J&K, into minority. India also drew the UNHRC's attention to Pakistan's “gory record” of “persecution and elimination of religious and ethnic minorities – the Christians, Sikhs, Shias, Ahmadiyas and Hindus”.

Singh argued that New Delhi's recent legislative measures on J&K would make Modi Government's welfare programmes and schemes available to citizens in the two newly constituted Union Territories, thus ending long-standing discrimination against refugees and underprivileged sections as well as women, including on property rights and representations in local bodies, apart from ensuring protection of juvenile rights against domestic violence and rights to education, information and work.

Not only Pakistan but the US too of late expressed concern over the continued detention of the leaders in J&K and restrictions on citizens. President Donald Trump's administration in Washington D.C. called upon Modi Government to restart political engagement with them. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, too on Monday asked Government of India to ease restrictions in J&K and to consult local people and involve them in the process of making decisions.

New Delhi, however, on Tuesday reassured the world that the civil administration in J&K was ensuring “basic services, essential supplies, normal functioning of institutions, mobility and nearly full connectivity” despite “challenging circumstances”. “Democratic processes have been initiated. Restrictions are being eased continuously. Temporary preventive and precautionary measures were necessitated to ensure safety and security of our citizens in the face of credible threats of cross-border terrorism,” Singh told the UNHRC.

Islamabad and Beijing launched a diplomatic campaign against New Delhi soon after Modi Government on August 5 moved to strip J&K of its “special status” and reorganize the state into two Union Territories. India, however, on August 16 successfully blocked an attempt by Pakistan and China to bring the issue of J&K back on the agenda of the UN Security Council. New Delhi has since long been maintaining that the 1972 Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan and the 1999 Lahore Declaration had left no scope for the UN or any third party to play any role in settling outstanding bilateral issues between the two South Asian neighbours.

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