Qureshi again takes up Kashmir issue with UN officials

Continuing to highlight the dire situation in India-held Kashmir, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has written another letter to the president of the United Nations Security Council and the UN secretary general.

Among other things, he conveyed Pakistan’s rejection of the “bifurcation” of occupied Kashmir, highlighted the continued violation of human rights by Indian forces, underlined India’s belligerent rhetoric and actions vis-à-vis Pakistan and reiterated the call for strengthening of UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), says an official statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO) here on Monday.

The FO says at Pakistan’s request the foreign minister’s letter that had been sent on Oct 31 has been circulated to the UN membership as an official document of the Security Council.

The text of the letter released by the FO shows that it was the sixth such letter that has been written by the foreign minister to the UN officials.

“I want to bring to your attention the latest developments, including the illegal “bifurcation” of the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and continued escalation on the Line of Control (LoC) as well as increasingly belligerent rhetoric emanating from New Delhi,” Mr Qureshi writes in his letter.

In his letter the foreign minister stated that the Pakistan government had rejected the “bifurcation” of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) into two union territories.

“Changing the status quo in IOJ&K unilaterally is in complete violation of the Security Council Resolutions, including Resolutions 47 (1948), 51 (1948), 80 (1950), 91 (1951), 122 (1957) and 123 (1957). These Indian actions are, therefore, null and void in terms of international law, and do not, in any way, prejudice the right to self determination of the people of IOJ&K,” writes the minister.

Highlighting the sufferings of the people in the IOJ&K, Mr Qureshi has written that the “inhuman lockdown” that was started after the illegal and unilateral actions of the Indian government on Aug 5, was now closing in on three months.

“The iron curtain that has descended on IOJ&K, holding over eight million Kashmiris under siege, has no parallel in recent history. Indian pretensions of ‘everything is fine’ has been exposed by denial of access to international media, leaders of India’s own political parties and civil society organisations to IOJ&K,” the minister said through the letter.

Mr Qureshi stated that the situation had been further compounded by the belligerent attitude adopted by the Indian civil and military leadership.

“One example of this irresponsible and inflammatory posture is the highly provocative statement by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, calling for splitting of a sovereign country, in complete disregard for the Charter of the United Nations, international law and norms of civilized international behaviour.”

This, Mr Qureshi asserted, was followed by a baseless and fallacious statement by Indian army chief Gen Bipin Rawat, alleging that the Indian army had destroyed “launch pads/terrorist camps” on the Pakistani side of the LoC.

“Despite our immediate request to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to share details, including longitudes and latitudes of the location, no response was received from India.

“What had actually happened was unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian troops, targeting civilians on the Pakistan side of the LoC. To expose the Indian falsehood, we took members of the diplomatic corps based in Islamabad, as well as media representatives, to the site of Indian ceasefire violations. We also invited Islamabad-based Indian diplomats to join. They, however, chose to stay away. There were, of course, no launch pads/terrorist camps,” he added.

This episode once again exposes the intent of the Indian government, which seems willing to go to any extent to malign Pakistan, and take actions to divert international attention from the nightmare the people of IOJ&K are going through.

On Oct 29, he said, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) shared with the world community the latest update on the dire human rights situation in occupied Kashmir, stating that it was “extremely concerned”, and highlighting prevention of freedom of movement, hampering the rights to peaceful assembly, health, education and freedom of religion and belief, as well as excessive use of force, including the use of pellet guns. “Many of political and civil society leaders continue to remain in detention, according to this update”

Mr Qureshi requested for the UN Security Council to work on strengthening both the mandate as well as the capacity of the UNMOGIP — the eyes and ears of the international community.

“This would not only be an important confidence-building measure, but a strengthened UNMOGIP would also be able to feed in accurate and timely information to the Secretariat and the UNSC, in order for them to avert escalation.

“Let me also call on the Security Council to remain actively seized of the matter and urgently address the deteriorating situation in the region, that is threatening regional peace and security,” the letter concludes.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2019