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September 12, 2019

Major victory against India at UNHRC: India must end brute force in Kashmir

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September 12, 2019

GENEVA: Pakistan has achieved a major victory against India in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) where 58 countries agreed on a joint statement seeking an end to atrocities in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK).

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi warned Wednesday that the situation in IHK risked sparking an ‘accidental war’, and urged UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to visit the troubled region.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he believed both Pakistan and India "understand the consequences of a conflict." But with tensions soaring since New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s autonomy last month, he warned that "you cannot rule out an accidental war."

"If the situation persists... then anything is possible," Qureshi said. India imposed a military clampdown on Kashmir from August 5 to prevent unrest as New Delhi revoked the disputed region´s autonomy. Mobile phone networks and the internet are still cut off in all but a few pockets.

Tensions over Kashmir, split between India and Pakistan since 1947, have sparked two major wars and countless clashes between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals.

Qureshi, who on Tuesday appealed to the Human Rights Council to launch an international investigation into the situation in Indian-held Kashmir, told reporters he had spoken with Bachelet and had invited her to visit both the Indian and Pakistani parts of the region.

"She should visit both places and report as objectively as she can so that the world knows what the true... situation is," he said. The minister said Bachelet had said she "was keen to visit". Her office could not immediately bereached for confirmation.

Qureshi meanwhile ruled out the possibility of bilateral talks to resolve the tensions. "In this environment and with the mindset that we see in New Delhi today, I do not see any room for a bilateral engagement," he said, adding that a multilateral forum or a third-party mediator would likely be needed.

"If the US plays a role, that can be important because they have a considerable influence" in the region, he said. New Delhi, meanwhile, has insisted that the situation in Kashmir is an internal Indian affair, rejecting all international interference in the region.

Meanwhile in Islamabad, Pakistan has expressed gratitude to 58 countries for becoming part of its Joint Statement in support of the people of Kashmir, reinforcing serious concerns of the international community about the unprecedented restrictions, continued curfew and curtailment of fundamental rights of Kashmiris.

On behalf of over 50 states, Pakistan had presented Joint Statement to the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday regarding the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

"Pakistan appreciates the joint call by these countries for removal of restrictions, respect and protection of the Kashmiri people, implementation of the recommendations of UN’s Kashmir reports and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions," a Foreign Office statement said issued here.

The Joint Statement mentioned the deteriorating situation in Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir, especially following decisions taken on August 5, 2019, and called for urgent attention by the Human Rights Council and human rights mechanisms.

It drew attention towards the concern expressed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet regarding the impact of recent actions on the human rights of Kashmiris and also the statements of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UN Special Procedures expressing serious concerns over the continuous curfew.

The Joint Statement highlighted the statement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on August 8, 2019 where he said that the position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions - the position also been corroborated by OHCHR s Kashmir Reports.

The joint call urged the international community to take notice of immediate halt to the excessive use of force, especially the use of pellet guns and press for regular reporting by the UN High Commissioner for human rights on Jammu and Kashmir. It also demanded a peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through the implementation of the UNSC resolutions.

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