Hours after Pakistan called on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to not remain “indifferent” after India revoked J&K’s special status under Article 370, New Delhi Tuesday hit out at Islamabad for “misusing” the platform for “malicious political agendas under the garb of human rights”.
Without naming Pakistan, India said this “fabricated narrative” comes from the “epicentre of global terrorism”, where “ringleaders were sheltered for years”. “This nation conducts cross-border terrorism as a form of ‘alternate diplomacy’,” Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (East) Vijay Thakur Singh said, while presenting the country statement at the 42nd session of the UNHRC in Geneva.
Earlier, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi asked the Council to constitute a commission of inquiry, and allow unhindered access to rights organisations and the international media to Kashmir. Incidentally, Qureshi later referred to J&K as the “Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir”.
The latest war of words comes two weeks before the Prime Ministers of both countries are likely to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 27.
In a separate development, India has objected to the reference made to J&K in a China-Pakistan joint statement issued after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Islamabad. India also referred to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and asserted that it is “resolutely opposed” to any actions by other countries to change the status quo in the region.
In Geneva, meanwhile, MEA Secretary (East) Singh said that it is time to “call out” those who misuse the platform. “Those who are attempting this, speak on the human rights of minorities in other countries whilst trampling upon them at will in their own country. They cry victim when they actually are the perpetrators,” she said.
“One delegation has given a running commentary with offensive rhetoric of false allegations and concocted charges against my country. The world is aware that this fabricated narrative comes from the epicentre of global terrorism, where ring leaders were sheltered for years,” she said.
Defending India’s decision on J&K, Singh said the recent measures fall within the framework of the Constitution and will ensure that progressive measures will be fully applicable to “our citizens” in J&K 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, who headed the Indian delegation, said.
“Despite challenging circumstances”, she said, J&K’s civil administration is ensuring basic services, essential supplies, normal functioning of institutions, mobility and nearly full connectivity. “Democratic processes have been initiated. Restrictions are being eased continuously. Temporary preventive and precautionary measures were necessitated to ensure safety and security of our citizens in the face of credible threats of cross-border terrorism,” she said.
Lashing out at Pakistan, she said: “Those who abet, finance and support terrorism in any form on territory under their control are in truth the worst violators of human rights. The world, in particular India, has suffered greatly on account of the activities by practitioners of state-sponsored terrorism and it is time to collectively take decisive and firm action against terror groups and their abettors who threaten the fundamental human right to life. We must speak out. Silence only emboldens terrorists.”
In his speech earlier, Qureshi said: “Today, I have knocked on the doors of the Human Rights Council, the repository of the world’s conscience on human rights, to seek justice and respect for the people of Kashmir.”
He said: “We must not allow this august body to be embarrassed on the world stage. As a founding member of this Council, Pakistan feels morally and ethically bound to prevent this from occurring.”
Qureshi said that in order to do so, the body should not remain indifferent to the situation that was unfolding. “We must act decisively and with conviction,” he said.
Responding to the statement, Indian diplomat Vimarsh Aryan called it “blatant misrepresentation of facts and false narrative peddled by Pakistan in all its statements”. “This is an ill-disguised effort to advance its territorial ambitions. We reject this propaganda,” Aryan, First secretary at the Permanent Mission of India at the UN in Geneva, said.
“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. In this desperate mind-frame, some Pakistan leaders have even gone as far as to call for ‘Jihad’ and to encourage violence both inside Jammu and Kashmir and in third countries, in order to paint a picture of ‘genocide’ which even they know is far from reality,” he said, while referring to remarks by Pakistan PM Imran Khan and other leaders.
While presenting India’s statement, Singh also spoke about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in reference to UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s remarks that the exercise was creating uncertainty and anxiety among people.
“It is a statutory, transparent, non-discriminatory legal process mandated and monitored by the Supreme Court of India. Any decision that is taken during the process of its implementation will comply with Indian Law and will be consistent with India’s democratic traditions,” she said.
In New Delhi, responding to a question on the joint statement by Pakistan and China, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “We reject the reference to Jammu and Kashmir in the joint statement issued by China and Pakistan after the recent visit of the Chinese foreign minister. Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.”
Kumar said: “India has consistently expressed concerns to both China and Pakistan on the projects in so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’, which is in the territory of India that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1947.” He said that the parties concerned should cease such actions.
The China-Pakistan joint statement said: “The Pakistani side briefed the Chinese side on the situation, including its concerns, position, and urgent humanitarian issues. The Chinese side responded that it was paying close attention to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.”