India and Pakistan engaged in a nasty war of words on Kashmir during a general debate on the UN human rights chief’s observations on human rights violations across the world at the UN Human Rights Council’s (HRC’s) ongoing 34th session.
“The whole state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan remains in illegal occupation of a part of our territory. The two cannot and should not be equated. The neutrality of the term ‘Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir’ is, therefore, artificial,” Ajit Kumar, ambassador of India to the UN office at Geneva, told the Council on Thursday.
“The central problem in Jammu and Kashmir is cross-border terrorism and hence, we are a little surprised that the High Commissioner was silent regarding Pakistan that uses terrorism as an instrument of state policy,” Kumar said.
Representational image. AFP
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein in an address to the HRC on Wednesday had highlighted the current major human rights violations in more than 40 countries in the world and said that his office has faced difficulties in accessing some regions like “both sides of the Line of Control, in India-Administered Jammu and Kashmir, and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir” among others.
“In several areas where we have received indications of severe violations, and where access continues to be refused, my Office has begun remote monitoring, and fact-finding missions to neighbouring countries – reports which we intend to make public, and I will report on this further in June,” Al-Hussein had said.
Pakistan had earlier in the day made a statement that it had not denied the UN High Commissioner’s office access to “to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)” but that this should be done in tandem with a mission to the “Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, even though there is no comparison whatsoever in the situation in AJK and the gross, systematic and widespread human rights violations committed with impunity by 70,000 Indian-occupation forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir”.
The refusal is a “desperate attempt” to hide atrocities in the region, the deputy ambassador of Pakistan to the UN office at Geneva Aamar Aftab Qureshi said.
India, using its Right of Reply (RoR), said that it is “unfortunate” that Pakistan has again “chosen to misuse and mislead” the HRC by making “motivated allegations about Jammu and Kashmir, which is an internal matter of India”.
“The matters that need to be addressed are Pakistan’s illegal occupation of a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the continued suffering of the people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir who are victims of sectarian conflict, terrorism, extreme economic hardship and discriminatory policies,” Alok R Jha, counsellor (political) at the Indian mission to the UN office at Geneva, said.
The “continued operations” of terrorist groups from Pakistan that has resulted in a series of terrorist attacks in India has denied its victims the most fundamental of rights, which is the right to life, Jha said.
Pakistan, using its RoR, called India’s argument “absurd”. India “twisted facts” by claiming that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, the Pakistani delegate said.
“India has the habit of maligning Pakistan for anything and everything under the sun,” Qazi Saleem Ahmed Khan, third secretary at the Pakistani mission to the UN offices in Geneva, told the Council.
Senior Indian leadership has openly acknowledged to have interfered in Pakistan, Khan claimed. “In recent years the forces of communalism and outright fascism have been cultivated and empowered by the mainstream political parties in India,” he accused. (FP)