Spokesman reiterates ongoing human rights abuses in disputed territory and urges Delhi to take steps to resolve issue
New Delhi’s reported plans to arrange for diplomats to India-held Jammu and Kashmir is merely another attempt to “mislead the world community” and divert its attention from ongoing human rights violations, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on Monday.
Responding to media queries, spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri issued a statement condemning India’s attempts to create a “false impression” of normalcy in the disputed territory.
India has announced plans to take a group of Delhi-based diplomats from European and Gulf countries to India-held Kashmir on Feb. 17-18 as part of its efforts to show the situation in the region is “normal” after global concern over its August 2019 decision to unilaterally strip its special constitutional status. The visit follows the restoration of 4G internet services in the disputed territory after a gap of 18 months.
In previous trips, visiting diplomats have met government officials, security personnel and supporters of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. “The visit would mean nothing if there is no access to all the areas and possibility to freely interact with Kashmiri people and the civil society in an atmosphere free of intimidation,” read the statement issued by the Foreign Office. “Equally, meeting the senior Hurriyat leadership, including those incarcerated on trumped-up charges alone, would enable an objective assessment of the ground realities,” it added.
“The world can clearly see that the illegal and inhuman military siege continues for over 18 months now; extra-judicial killings of Kashmiris in fake ‘encounters’, and staged ‘cordon-and-search’ operations have become rampant; arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances and custodial torture have increased; Kashmiri leadership remain incarcerated; journalists, human rights activists and international human rights organizations are being harassed; and the Kashmiris’ fundamental rights, including the right to express themselves continue to be denied,” said Chaudhri, noting that the Indian claims of “normalcy” rang hollow.
The spokesman urged India to allow the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; the United Nations Observers; the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission; international human rights and civil society organizations; and international media to visit the region and impartially assess the situation. He also reiterated calls for the international community and media to pressure Delhi into taking “genuine steps” to resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.