Pakistan Asks UNHRC To Send Fact-Finding Team To Troubled Kashmir
ISLAMABAD, July 21: Pakistan has asked the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to send a fact-finding team to Kashmir to investigate human rights violations and the recent killings of innocent people, Press Trust of India reported.
“We have requested UNHRC to send a fact-finding mission to Kashmir (in India) and probe recent killings of innocent Kashmiris,” Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, said.
Briefing journalists at the Foreign Office here, he urged the international community to take notice of the situation in Kashmir and extend its support to the Kashmiri people.
Aziz reiterated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s stand that Kashmir is not India’s internal matter.
“Kashmir is not India’s internal matter because the issue is recognized by the United Nations,” he said and accused India of using “state-sponsored terrorism” to justify its illegal occupation of Kashmir.
“India will not be able to legitimize its occupation,” he Aziz asserted.
To a question as to why Sharif is not using his ‘personal relations’ with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to defuse tension in Kashmir, Aziz said: “PM Sharif’s personal ties with Modi are not state ties”.
He further said: “It does not matter how many times Modi speaks to Sharif on phone in a day. What matters is whether the former talks to the latter about the Kashmir issue.”
When asked if Pakistan is considering severing diplomatic tie with India over the Kashmir violence, Aziz said: “Severing ties with India over the issue is no solution to the issue of Kashmir.”
The adviser declared that Pakistan “fully backs” the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader Syed Ali Geelani’s four-point formula on Kashmir.
New York Times Raps India
In a stinging editorial on the Kashmir situation, New York Times said: “Kashmir is subject to India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which grants the military wide powers to arrest, shoot to kill, occupy or destroy property. The result is a culture of brutal disdain for the local population.”
“Once again, the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is convulsed in lethal violence pitting stone-throwing youths against armed police officers and security forces,” the paper said and added that “troubling questions” about the timing and the circumstances of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani’s death “remain unanswered”.
“So too are questions about the apparently indiscriminate use of pellet guns. These and other questions argue for an independent investigation into the use of force by security forces, and for the reform of practices – including censorship, communications blackouts, and those allowed by AFSPA – that are unworthy of India’s democracy.”
“A failure to take these steps will only push more young Kashmiris into militancy, and make impossible a political solution that alone can bring an end to the desperation that has, once again, gripped the region,” the paper said.
The killing of 22-year-old Wani, a poster boy of militancy, by security forces on July 8 triggered massive clashes across Kashmir Valley, leaving 44 dead. Kashmir has been under curfew for 12 days running now. The clamp down on communication has affected the sick and the dying badly.
NYT further said that the “unrest is a major setback for peace in the long-troubled region claimed by both India and Pakistan, where an insurgency movement peaked in the 1990s, then waned, but never completely disappeared.”
It termed the current situation in Kashmir as a “state of siege” where mobile internet, mobile services and basic communication is banned and said it was “profoundly troubling in democratic India”.
Demand For Demilitarization
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader, Brinda Karat, on Thursday demanded complete withdrawal of the military and the armed forces from Kashmir and said that injuring people through bullets and using pellets to blind protesters will have serious consequences for India.
“We condemn the oppression and repression of both central and state government on people and believe that Kashmir is a political issue which needs to be addressed politically. The way both Central and State Governments have let loose a reign of terror in Valley is not only condemnable but barbaric as well. There is lot of anger among people who want issue to be resolved without any delay. Kashmir needs to be demilitarized and New Delhi must stop brute force on people,” Brinda Karat told the Kashmir based news agency CNS over phone from New Delhi.
Congress Leader Calls For Autonomy For Kashmir
In an interview to NDTV, former Indian Home (Interior and Law and Order) Minister, P.Chidambaram said: “We have completely misunderstood what Kashmir people are struggling for or protesting for. We think wrongly that they are separatists, secessionists, and whatever they say is seditious and therefore they should be treated as if they are enemies of the State. That is completely untrue.”
He said during his tenure, they spoke to many people about the concept of Azaadi.
“The word Azaadi means many things to many people there. Today things may have changed as I am talking about 2010. I think what they are fighting for is, identity. What they are fighting for is a large degree of self-government and autonomy and what is wrong in that? We are not willing to think out of box,” he said. “In a federal system there is no principal which says give powers to states in a symmetric manner. You can have asymmetric devolution of powers.”
Chidambaram said it was “greater autonomy” on which Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India in 1947.
Bigger Pellets Being Used
The former Home Minister said that the pellets being used in Kashmir today are heavier ammunition pellets and not the ones used in 2010.
“Well I am afraid. These pellets didn’t kill in 2010 and 2012. You should ask yourself why?”
He said during his tenure when pellets were first used as “non-lethal” weapon, “I ordered that only a few policemen would carry these weapons, but those orders “are not being followed by forces today.”
“You must shoot those (pellets) below knee. Those orders have not been obeyed. I think they are using a different pellet today. Why those pellets didn’t kill in 2010?” he said.
“The blinding of so many young persons has further weakened the moral authority of the Indian State,” Chidambaram said.
“Greater Autonomy is the basis on which J&K acceded to India. J&K acceded on the basis of Article 370 and over the years we have simply chipped away that bargain which we had arrived at in 1947-48,” he said, when asked about J&K’s special status.
Chidambaram also said most of the people in India see Kashmir through the prism of land and not people.
“Most people look upon Kashmir issue as an issue of land which Pakistan has tried to grab,.and which belongs to India, and India is trying to defend that land. No one is saying we shouldn’t defend the land. But the problem of Kashmir is not the problem of land. It is a problem of people,” he added.
Government’s Muscular Approach
He said the Parliament was divided over handling of present Kashmir crisis.
“I think the Parliament was divided yesterday. Each side said a few things that were objected to by the other side. But fundamentally there is a clear division in the approach between the ruling alliance and the opposite parties,” he said.
He said that central government today believes that only muscular approach to Kashmir problem is the answer.
“The biggest difference is the ruling alliance, NDA, believes that a muscular approach to the Kashmir problem is the answer. But there are opposite parties like Congress, CPI(M), CPI, JD (U), which have realized after witnessing 2010 and since 2010 that security or police-driven measures will only worsen the situation. And therefore they have appealed a healing touch approach,” Chidambaram said.
BJP-PDP Alliance Frightens Kashmiris
The former Minister also said that the alliance of the Kashmiri Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP itself is a grave provocation for the people of Kashmir. The BJP as a party and the people of Kashmir valley are poles apart. There is hardly any commonality between BJP’s philosophy and what Kashmir valley people believe in, Chidambaram said.
“So when you have a govt with BJP-PDP, it’s very disturbing, challenging and provocative. The presence of BJP and what the BJP does in the rest of India; the consistent talk of repealing Article 370 (which gives autonomy to Kashmir) frighten people,” he said.
“You don’t do hard policing of protesting youth and citizens. I can understand hard policing against militants, insurgents but not against protesting youth who hold stones and nothing else,” he said.
“It’s time for all party delegation to go to Kashmir. I think time for quiet interlocution with the people. Go back and do the things we did,” he added.
Interlocutors’ Recommendations Ignored
Asked why the 2010 interlocutors’ recommendations were not implemented, Chidambaram said: “I am equally disappointed as you are. Because I left the ministry in 2012, I accept collective responsibility. We didn’t bring the interlocutors’ report in the Parliament for debate. We could have implemented many of those suggestions, some of them, not all.”