NEW DELHI :
India on Tuesday slammed Pakistan’s comments on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir as a “fabricated narrative" from “the epicentre of global terrorism". Earlier in the day, Islamabad demanded that the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) set up a commission of inquiry—one of UN’s highest-level probes for major crises—to look into what it termed as “Indian brutality" in the region.
The face-off was the result of yet another attempt by Pakistan to internationalize the Kashmir issue after India, on 5-6 August, abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution and integrated the region more closely with it. Pakistan condemned the move, but India has firmly stood its ground saying it was an internal matter.
In its remarks to the UNHRC on Tuesday, India said its Constitution was “supreme" and “guaranteed fundamental rights to all our citizens without any distinction" and dismissed Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s comments as a “fabricated narrative" that came from “the epicentre of global terrorism, where ring leaders were sheltered for years".
“This nation conducts cross-border terrorism as a form of alternate diplomacy," said Vijay Thakur Singh, the head of the Indian delegation to the UNHRC. “The Indian Parliament has been adopting a series of progressive legislations," Singh said. The government “is taking affirmative actions to promote socioeconomic equality and justice for the underprivileged", she added. The abrogation of Article 370 “will ensure that these progressive measures will also be fully applicable to our citizens in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh".
“These decisions were taken by our Parliament after a full debate that was televised and enjoyed widespread support. We wish to reiterate that this sovereign decision, like other legislations passed by Parliament, is entirely internal to India. No country can accept interference in its internal affairs, certainly not India," Singh asserted.
Earlier, Qureshi, who is leading the Pakistani delegation to the 9-27 September session of the UN body, sought focused discussion on what he termed were Indian atrocities in Kashmir calling on the international community to “address the warning signs of a looming catastrophe".
“For the last six weeks, India has transformed Occupied Jammu and Kashmir into the largest prison on this planet," Qureshi said, accusing India of having arrested more than 6,000 people without due process.
“India’s draconian emergency laws cannot be allowed to stand," Qureshi said, referring to the restrictions put in place days ahead of the 5-6 August move to revoke the special status of Kashmir. This exposed the “true face of largest democracy in the world", which had aspirations of becoming a permanent member of the UNSC, he added.
Last month, Pakistan, with China’s help, had succeeded in getting the UN Security Council to discuss the matter informally, but the UNSC did not pass any resolution.
It was seen as a failure on Pakistan’s part to embarrass India. Islamabad is now expected to present a resolution to the UNHRC for consideration by the end of the 42nd session of the global body on 27 September.
Qureshi slammed India’s references to “cross-border terrorism" to justify its crackdown as a “red herring to divert international opinion" and said he feared India might “even attack Pakistan". The minister urged the UNHCR to heed recommendations by UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet and her predecessor Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to launch a so-called international commission of inquiry (COI) into the Kashmir situation.
“If India has nothing to hide, it should allow unhindered access to the commission of inquiry," Qureshi insisted. Pakistan was willing to provide access to its side of the so-called Line of Control, he added.
In its right to reply, Indian diplomat, Vimarsh Aryan said Pakistan’s statements on Tuesday were “an ill-disguised effort to advance its territorial ambitions."
“Pakistan realises that our recent decision cuts the very ground from under its feet by creating obstacles in its continuing sponsorship of cross-border terrorism against India" Aryan said.
Pakistan’s rhetoric “will not distract international attention from Pakistan’s persecution and elimination of religious and ethnic minorities—be it the Christians, Sikhs, Shias, Ahmadiyas and Hindus. This is the reason that Pakistan no longer publishes official statistics about its minorities as India does," he said.