In the wake of growing international concern, Pakistan must shut down its terrorism factory, said India
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) has become the new platform for verbal spats between India and Pakistan as the rival countries have already clashed four times during the ongoing session of the HRC.
This time it began when the Pakistani Federal Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid, speaking at the high-level segment on March, said that "the Indian claim that the deteriorating human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir is an internal affair of India is factually incorrect, legally untenable and in violation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution".
"Equally false is the Indian narrative that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is about terrorism,” he added.
Pakistan also said that it supports the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ stand that a UN human rights team should visit J&K to "independently and impartially investigate the grave human rights violations being perpetrated by Indian forces".
However, this statement by the Pakistani politician was only partly true. The human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein had asked for access to visit both Jammu and Kashmir as well as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in the 33rd session of the UNHRC held in September 2016.
“Members will recognise the irony of a nation that has established a well-earned reputation of being a global epicenter of terrorism holding forth on human rights,” the Permanent Representative of India to the UN office at Geneva Ajit Kumar told the HRC in response to the statement.
“For the last two decades, the most wanted terrorists of the world have found succor and sustenance in Pakistan,” he added.
“I would also like to point out that Pakistan’s unwarranted references to UN Security Council resolutions are grossly misleading as Pakistan was required to vacate parts of the state of J&K under its illegal and forced occupation,” Kumar said.
Additionally, India used it Right of Reply (RoR) and “urged” Pakistan to fulfill its obligation under UN Security Council resolutions “to vacate illegal occupation of PoK”.
“We, once again, ask Pakistan to stop inciting and supporting violence and terrorism in any part of India and refrain from meddling in our internal affairs in any manner,” Alok R. Jha, counsellor at the Indian mission to the UN office at Geneva said the same day.
India also noted with “regret” that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has used the HRC to comment on the internal matters of the country.
“Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and the OIC has no locus standi in matters concerning India's internal affairs,” India said.
Pakistan used its RoR to accuse India of interfering in Balochistan and said “dossiers of Indian subversive activities in Balochistan and apprehended RAW agent Kulbhushan Yadav have been handed over to the UN Secretary General”.
The rival countries clashed again during a general debate on Al-Hussein’s report on human rights violations across the world that he presented to the HRC on March 9.
“The whole state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan remains in illegal occupation of a part of our territory. The two cannot and should not be equated. The neutrality of the term 'Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir' is, therefore, artificial,” Kumar told the Council.
“The central problem in J&K is cross-border terrorism and hence, we are a little surprised that the High Commissioner [for human rights] was silent regarding Pakistan that uses terrorism as an instrument of state policy,” Kumar added.
Al-Hussein while presenting his report had said that he has received indications of severe violations in many parts of the world, including J&K and PoK where the access to his Office continues to be refused. In such places, his team has begun remote monitoring the situation and sending fact-finding missions to neighbouring countries-- the findings from which will be made public in June.
Pakistan had earlier in the day made a statement that it had not denied the UN High Commissioner’s office access to “to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)” but that this should be done in tandem with a mission to the “Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, even though there is no comparison whatsoever in the situation in AJK and the gross, systematic and widespread human rights violations committed with impunity by 70,000 Indian-occupation forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir”.
India using its RoR had said “the matters that need to be addressed are Pakistan's illegal occupation of a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the continued suffering of the people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir who are victims of sectarian conflict, terrorism, extreme economic hardship and discriminatory policies”.
The “continued operations” of terrorist groups from Pakistan that has resulted in a series of terrorist attacks in India has denied its victims the most fundamental of rights, which is the right to life, Jha said.
Pakistan, using its RoR, called India’s argument “absurd”. India “twisted facts” by claiming that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, the Pakistani delegate said.
On March 10, during a general debate on ‘promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development’, India using its RoR said that former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, and Pakistan’s former national security adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani “have admitted” that several terrorist groups were supported and trained by Pakistan to create disturbances in Kashmir. So, “no wonder, the perpetrators of Mumbai and other recent attacks have not been brought to justice by Pakistan,” India had told the council on 10 March.
“In the wake of growing international concern, Pakistan must shut down its terrorism factory,” India added.
“A fresh chapter of barbarity unfolded with the shooting of peaceful demonstrators and innocent bystanders with pellet guns, which has resulted in the world’s first mass blinding,” Pakistan told the Council earlier the same day.
The most broadcasted Indian statement by the national media, however, came on March 15 when India fielded a young woman diplomat Nabanita Chakrabarti to respond to Pakistani statements.
“Apart from becoming world’s terrorism factory, Pakistan has also alienated its own people through continued mistreatment of Hindus, Christians, Shias, Ahmadiyas and other minorities,” the under-secretary at New Delhi’s ministry of External Affairs said.
“In this council, Pakistan has referred to situation of minorities in India. Minorities in India have been prime ministers, presidents, vice-presidents, senior cabinet ministers, senior civil servants, cricket team captains, Bollywood superstars. Can the minorities of Pakistan claim even a shadow of this? All they have are blasphemy laws and relentless abuse and violation of their human rights,” Chakrabarti added using India’s Right of Reply (RoR) during a discussion on ‘human rights situations that require the council’s attention’ at the Council.
Pakistan must rein in its “compulsive hostility” towards India — it has a “selective approach” in tackling terror groups operating outside Pakistan and within.
“We do not accept attempts by Pakistan to denigrate the democratic choice that has been regularly exercised by the people of Jammu & Kashmir over the last six decades since our independence,” India said.
Pakistan had earlier said that “the repression in Jammu and Kashmir is the most reprehensible manifestation of the flogging of human rights and the unleashing of violence by an increasingly communal and extremist state”.
With a week to go before the HRC wraps up its 34th session one expects a few more clashes at the rights body before the two countries call it a day.
There were similar confrontations at the last session of the HRC held in September 2016.