Pakistan proposes independent commission on Kashmir

An Indian security personnel stands guard on a deserted road during restrictions after scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar, August 23, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

Pakistan on Tuesday proposed setting up of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate and report human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, following India's revoking of the region's special status last month.

Addressing the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said his country was ready to give unhindered access to the proposed independent commission on its side, provided India also gives a similar access, on the other part of Jammu and Kashmir.

"If India has nothing to hide, it should allow unhindered access to the commission of inquiry, as recommended by the UN High Commissioner," he said.

Qureshi also told the council members to call upon India to immediately, "stop the use of pellet guns, lift the curfew, reverse the communications blackout, release political prisoners, and stop targeting human rights defenders".

He asked the world body not to remain indifferent to the tragedy unfolding in Kashmir.

He even drew parallels between the current Kashmir crises and genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica, the Rohingya crises in Myanmar and killing of over 1,000 people -- mostly Muslims -- in 2003 communal riots in the Indian province of Gujarat.

"The forlorn, traumatized towns, mountains, plains and valleys of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir reverberate today with the grim reminders of Rwanda, Srebrenica, the Rohingya, and the pogrom of Gujarat," he charged.

Quoting reports of international media outlets on the worsening situation, the Pakistani foreign minister said he was not alone in highlighting human rights abuses.

He also accused India of transforming the picturesque Kashmir valley into the "largest prison on this planet".

Dubbing India's move as an attempt to change demography in the region by reducing Muslim majority into a minority in their own land, Qureshi rejected India's assertion that the latest actions were its "internal affair".

Drawing attention that Pakistan has offered to double the strength of the UN Observers Mission to monitor ceasefire along the Line of Control, Qureshi said India has rejected the proposal.

"I have every fear that India will once again resort to false-flag operations, and use the bogey of terrorism as a red herring to divert international opinion, even attack Pakistan," he said.

Jammu and Kashmir region has been facing a clampdown since Aug. 5 when the Indian government revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which conferred a special status on it.

Indian authorities, however, claim that daytime restrictions have been lifted in 90% of the region.

According to Human Rights Watch, hundreds of people, mostly political leaders, have been detained or arrested by authorities since the Indian Parliament made the move.

Kashmiri leaders and residents fear the move is an attempt by India to change the demography of the state, where some groups have been fighting Indian rule for either independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars -- in 1948 and 1965 -- and a three-week-long Kargil skirmish in 1999 over Kashmir.

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