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August 16, 2019

Situation in IHK: Except China, major countries resort to customary diplomatic jargon

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August 16, 2019

LAHORE: With the exception of China perhaps, which nourishes a longstanding enmity with India for decades and has a historic friendship bond with Pakistan, not many major world countries have aired anything substantial on the worsening human rights situation in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) and the atrocities being meted out to the freedom fighters by the well-equipped state forces deployed in the occupied Valley, the bloody post-colonial history of which is otherwise littered with Pakistani calls for international mediation on the intractable crisis.

Basically, apart from some fairly strong statements coming from China, the international reaction has largely been non-critical of India.

China said India should avoid "unilateral actions" in Jammu and Kashmir to avoid tension in the region and described New Delhi’s decision to reorganize Ladakh a union territory as "unacceptable."

A key Indian newspaper "The Hindu" had stated last week: "Beijing’s comments were not surprising given its close and strategic partnership with Pakistan. Besides, parts of the disputed Sino-India border in Aksai Chin lie in Ladakh. In contrast the US, the United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka seemed to back India’s move."

The forceful Chinese reaction:

"China has always opposed India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in India’s administrative jurisdiction in the western part of the Sino-Indian border. This position is firm, consistent and has never changed."

"In recent days, the Indian side has continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally amending its domestic laws. This practice is unacceptable and will not produce any effect. We urge India to be cautious in its words and deeds on the border issue, strictly abide by the relevant agreements reached between the two sides, and avoid taking actions that further complicate the border issue."

"China is seriously concerned about the current situation in Kashmir. China’s position on the Kashmir issue is clear and consistent. This issue is a legacy of history between India and Pakistan, which is also the consensus of the international community. The parties concerned should exercise restraint and act with caution, especially to avoid actions that unilaterally change the status quo and exacerbate the tension. We call on the two sides to peacefully resolve relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and safeguard regional peace and stability."

India on its part dismissed the Chinese statement as an internal matter though, stating: "India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise. So far as the India-China Boundary question is concerned, the two sides have agreed to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary question on the basis of the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of India-China Boundary Question. Pending such a settlement, both sides have agreed to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas on the basis of the relevant agreements."

The American point of view:

"We are closely following the events in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. We take note of India’s announcement revising the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir and India’s plan to split the state into two union territories. We note that the Indian government has described these actions as strictly an internal matter. We are concerned about reports of detentions and urge respect for individual rights and discussion with those in affected communities. We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control," said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

The British reaction:

After tensions had escalated, the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had also called to congratulate his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, on his appointment as Britain's Prime Minister to raise the issue of Kashmir and the ongoing tensions around the Indian government's decision to revoke the state's special status.

In reference to the conversation which took place, Downing Street said that the two leaders discussed the serious situation in the region and agreed on the importance of dialogue.

The 10-Downing Street had said in a statement: "The Prime Minister received a call from Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan to congratulate him on his new role. The leaders discussed the serious situation in Kashmir and agreed on the importance of maintaining dialogue. And they underlined their continued commitment to the bilateral relationship between the UK and Pakistan."

An Indian media house, the "News18," had reported: "The UK government has previously expressed "concerns" over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir after India on Monday revoked Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw the special status given to the state and bifurcated it into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. We've expressed some of our concerns around the situation and called for calm, but also had a clear readout of the situation from the perspective of the Indian government, said UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab, when asked about the issue during his visit to the US. In a previous statement, a UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson had said that the UK was following developments closely and supported calls for the situation to remain calm."

Meanwhile, a Prestigious British newspaper "The Guardian" has viewed: "Known as Article 370, it stripped away the autonomy that Kashmir was granted in exchange for joining the Indian union after independence in 1947. The controversial move by India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has led to fears of widespread unrest and paralyzed normal life as tens of thousands of extra troops and security personnel were dispatched to add to the estimated 500,000 already present, making it one of the world’s most militarized zones. Of the 1.1 million British Pakistanis, more than one million originate from the part of Kashmir governed by Pakistan. While there are no official figures for the number of Indian Kashmiris in Britain, the overall British Indian community numbers almost 1.4 million and support for India’s position is strong among some sections."

The Russian statement:

Russia has asked Pakistan to bilaterally resolve its dispute with India over Occupied Kashmir.

According to a statement issued by the Russian foreign ministry, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, during his conversation with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, has "emphasized the need to de-escalate tensions and to have no alternative to resolving differences between Pakistan and India on a bilateral basis by political and diplomatic means."

The Russian foreign ministry further noted that its envoy at the UN would be guided by "this consistent position" and will "adhere to it" when the discussion on the Pakistani letter to the Security Council starts.

The European Union has called on India and Pakistan to re-open dialogue through diplomatic channels in order to de-escalate tensions in Jammu and Kashmir.

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, also reiterated the EU's stance of continuing to back a "bilateral solution" between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

In a statement released days after India had imposed an unprecedented lockdown on Kashmir, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he had been following the situation with "concern" and recalled a 1972 agreement between India and Pakistan that calls for a bilateral resolution to the crisis by "peaceful means."

The "France 24," a state-owned international news and current affairs television network based in Paris, had maintained a few days ago: "As India prepares to mark Independence Day on August 15, protests against PM Narendra Modi’s Kashmir status change and crackdown are set to keep the disputed territory in the spotlight. It’s a focus New Delhi would rather avoid. Eid al-Adha -- the Muslim "Feast of the Sacrifice" – is being marked with a grim symbolism in the Kashmir Valley this year as a population silenced, surveilled and seething in the world’s most militarized zone once again confronts the failure of the international community to tackle the latest violation in an intractable, decades-long conflict."

The Sri Lankan response:

In his remarks, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe also described India’s action as an "internal" matter.

"I understand Ladakh will finally become a Union Territory. With over 70% Buddhist it will be the first Indian state with a Buddhist majority. The creation of Ladakh and the consequential restructuring are India's internal matters. I have visited Ladakh and it is worth a visit," Wickremesinghe was quoted as saying by media reports.