Pak demands lifting of communication blockade, release of Kashmiri leaders

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Geneva, February 25: Pakistan on Tuesday raked up the Kashmir issue at the UNHRC here and demanded the immediate lifting of the communication restrictions and release of all the political leaders and activists in the Valley, saying any “inaction” by the international community will only “embolden” India.
Speaking at the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council which is being held here in Switzerland from February 24 to March 20, Pakistan’s Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari alleged that India continues to violate the human rights of the Kashmiri people and demanded the immediate repeal of all actions by India on August 5 last year in Kashmir.
India abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 on August 5 and bifurcated it into two Union territories.
Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”. New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.
She alleged that “over six thousand Kashmiri people, activists… were arrested without the due process of law” and demanded their immediate release.
The minister, known for her hardline anti-India stance, said any “inaction” by the international community and the Council will only “embolden” India to act with impunity.
Mazari urged the UNHRC and the rest of the international community to take action against the alleged human rights atrocities and violations in Jammu and Kashmir.
In her speech, she appealed the Council to constitute an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate and report the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir as proposed in a UN report.
In 2018, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report recommended an independent, international Commission of Inquiry on Kashmir.
Pakistan, she said is ready to facilitate the Commission of Inquiry to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and asked India to reciprocate in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mazari outlined eight actions that, she said, the Council and the international community should take with respect to Jammu and Kashmir to protect the human rights situation in the Valley.
She asked India to withdraw all the “illegal actions” of August 5, desist from changing demographics in Jammu and Kashmir and lift the lockdown and communications blackout there.
The minister said India must “allow” the flow of medicines, food and other essential items to the Kashmiri people and release all “arbitrarily detained” Kashmiri leaders, professionals and activists, including young boys.
Mazari demanded that India should repeal all the “draconian laws” which, she alleged, allowed the Indian security forces to “commit atrocities” in Kashmir and prohibit the use of force.
She called for banning the use of pellet guns and ensure the drawdown of over 800,000 Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir.
The minister also highlighted the steps taken by her country to ensure the safety and security of the minority communities and mentioned the opening of the historic Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for the Sikhs.
The Indian government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5, 2019 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and imposed severe curbs including on movement of people as well as on mobile telephone and internet connectivity. The crackdown drew international criticism with several countries expressing concerns over the situation in Kashmir.
India has categorically told the international community that its move to scrap Article 370 was an internal matter. According to officials, internet is being restored in the Valley in a phased manner after reviewing the security situation. (PTI)