A year after New Delhi slammed the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for misusing the United Nations’s platform and coming out with a biased report on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, India – once again – lodged a strong protest on the “update” and called it a continuation of the earlier “false and motivated” narrative.
Accusing the OHCHR of making assertions that are in “violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “ignore the core issue of cross-border terrorism”, Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Monday said the report seems to accord a legitimacy to terrorism.
This, Kumar said, is in complete variance with positions of the UN Security Council, which had strongly condemned the Pulwama terror attack and subsequently proscribed Masood Azhar, the Pakistan-based terrorist.
India’s response came after the Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which last year released its first report on Kashmir, issued an “update” of the 2018 report on Monday, claiming that “neither India nor Pakistan have taken any concrete steps to address the numerous concerns raised”.
The report stated that civilian casualties reported in Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) from May 2018 to April 2019 may be the highest in over a decade and called on the UN Human Rights Council to consider “the possible establishment of a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir”.
Kumar said, “A situation created by years of cross-border terrorist attacks emanating from Pakistan has been ‘analysed’ without any reference to its causality. The update seems to be a contrived effort to create an artificial parity between the world’s largest and the most vibrant democracy and a country that openly practices state-sponsored terrorism,” he said.
“We have registered our strong protest regarding the update with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The release of such an update has not only called into question the seriousness of OHCHR but also its alignment with the larger approach of the United Nations,” he said.
Expressing “deep concern” that the report seems to accord a legitimacy to terrorism that is in complete variance with UNSC positions, Kumar said, “The UNSC had, in February 2019, strongly condemned the dastardly Pulwama terror attack and subsequently proscribed Masood Azhar, the self-styled leader of terrorist entity Jaish-e-Mohammed. However, in the update, terrorist leaders and organisations sanctioned by the UN are deliberately underplayed as ‘armed groups’.”
Why the report bothers India
The Geneva-based Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has come up with an “update” on its original report on the situation in J&K. While the Kashmir situation is far from normal, New Delhi is bothered that the UN platform will now be used by Pakistan for mudslinging. While there was not much traction to the report last year, what has got India somewhat worried is that the follow-up report has come despite change of guard at the office of the High Commissioner.
“The legitimisation of terrorism has been further compounded by an unacceptable advocacy of the dismemberment of a UN member state,” he said.
India follows the policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism and will take all measures to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty against cross-border terrorism, Kumar said. “Motivated attempts to weaken our national resolve will never succeed.”
Asserting that the entire state of J&K is an integral part of India, Kumar said Pakistan is in illegal and forcible occupation of a part of the state, including the so-called “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” and “Gilgit-Baltistan”. India has repeatedly called on Pakistan to vacate these occupied territories, he said.
The report, by distorting India’s policies, practices and values, has undermined its own credibility, Kumar said.
The report’s failure to recognise an independent judiciary, human rights institutions and other mechanisms in J&K that safeguard, protect and promote constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights to all citizens of India is “unpardonable”, the MEA spokesperson said.
“Even more so, as it belittles constitutional provisions, statutory procedures and established practices in an established functioning democracy,” Kumar said. The “prejudiced mindset” of the update has also chosen to wilfully ignore the determined and comprehensive socioeconomic developmental efforts undertaken by the Indian government in the face of challenges posed by terrorists, he added.
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